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Application for replacement passport, 1990s

Application for replacement passport, 1990s

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Description
This is an application for a replacement Thai passport based on fraudulent claim of loss. Obtaining real passports allowed the El Monte operators to simply change the picture in order to smuggle new workers into the country.
Recruited from Thailand, the El Monte workers were tricked into accepting employment by misrepresentations of their future working and living conditions. They were told they would sew in a clean factory, receive good pay, and have the weekends off. They were even shown photographs of company parties and outings to Disneyland. After signing contracts (indenture agreements) committing themselves to repay 120,000 baht (about $5,000 in 1997 dollars), they were smuggled into the United States on fraudulent passports.
On arrival, the sweatshop operators confiscated the passports and the workers were forced to sew 18 hours a day seven days a week. The debt, a guard force, and threats of physical harm to the workers and their families in Thailand discouraged them from escaping. Although the physical confinement of the work force was unusual, many aspects of the business, such as recruiting and smuggling workers, are relatively common. Less enslaving forms of debt peonage occur surprisingly often in some Asian immigrant communities.
Sweatshops occur in many sectors of manufacturing, but are most often associated with the garment industry. While garments are designed and marketed through big name companies, assembly is often left to contract and sub-contract operations. In these small shops, where profits are razor thin and competition is excessive, abuses are rampant.
On August 2, 1995, police officers raided a fenced seven-unit apartment complex in El Monte, California. They arrested eight operators of a clandestine garment sweatshop and freed 72 workers who were being forced to sew garments in virtual captivity. Smuggled from Thailand into the United States, the laborers’ plight brought a national spotlight to domestic sweatshop production and resulted in increased enforcement by federal and state labor agencies. The publicity of the El Monte raid also put added pressure on the apparel industry to reform its labor and business practices domestically and internationally.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
Document, Application For Replacement Passport
date made
1995
place issued
United States: California, Los Angeles
Associated Place
United States: California, Los Angeles
United States: California, Los Angeles
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 14 x 8.5;
ID Number
1997.0268.05
accession number
1997.0268
catalog number
1997.0268.05
Credit Line
U.S. Department of Justice. Immigration and Naturalization Service
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Work
Sweatshops
El Monte
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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