The GM of the Trump Hotel Waikiki has no comment on an unfolding situation unfolding just 3 miles away. Donald Trump wants to make America Great again. Here is a situation the president may want to take a close look at. It involves crime, illegal immigration and outsourcing of US labor – happening all right on our homeland.
Human trafficking in Hawaii remains big business. Would this indirectly include the Trump Hotel Waikiki, Wal Mart, Sam’s Club and Costco?
Benefiting from trafficking or inhuman conditions bordering on human trafficking are not only drug dealers, pimps. Make America Great again are the words by US President Donald Trump.
Pier 17 doesn’t even show up on most Honolulu maps. Cars on their way to Waikiki’s famous white sand beaches don’t notice, most locals are not aware that just behind a guarded gate, another world exists: Foreign fishermen confined to American boats for years at a time. Hundreds of undocumented men are employed in this unique U.S. fishing fleet, due to a federal loophole that allows them to work but exempts them from most basic labor protections. With no legal standing on U.S. soil, the men are at the mercy of their American captains on American-flagged, American-owned vessels, catching prized swordfish and ahi tuna. Since they don’t have visas, they are not allowed to set foot on shore. The entire system, which contradicts other state and federal laws, operates with the blessing of high-ranking U.S. lawmakers and official
While Trump Hotels and Walmart own Sam’s Club, but Costco are in the mix, Whole Foods was made aware of the situation and immediately took steps to stop selling seafood bought from the source.
All of them bought fish brought to Hawaii involving these illegal circumstances. Trump Hotel reportedly serves tuna brought in under slave-like conditions in their hotel restaurants.
Hawaii has been identified by the Pacific Gateway Center as a major hub of human trafficking – a form of modern slavery. Victims can be young girls and women who are forced into prostitution, immigrant farmers lured to Hawaii with false promises by recruiters and domestic servants and laborers from other countries as well as our own local community. It looks like they can also be people working in Hawaii who had not even entered the country.
Here is the new scenario unfolding in Hawaii at this time. This scenario may include the federal agency mandated to prevent exactly it: U.S. Customs in Honolulu committing felonies breaking U.S. Human- trafficking laws knowing the law says: ‘bosses who possess workers’ identification documents can face up to five years in prison. ‘
U.S. Customs requires captains of fishing vessels in Honolulu harbor to detain the men on board and hold their passports because they are banned from entering the United States of America. It not only sounds like, it may very well be a criminal enterprise involving the public and private sector and in paradise.
In a unique fishing arrangement facilitated by both federal and state officials, Hawaii’s boat owners pay brokers up to $10,000 to bring each crew member from impoverished Southeast Asian and Pacific island nations. The men aren’t allowed to arrive at Honolulu’s airport because they lack visas, so they are instead flown to other countries and put on U.S.-owned fishing boats for long sails back to Hawaii.
Hawaii authorities may have been violating their own state law for years by issuing commercial fishing licenses to thousands of foreign workers who were refused entry into the country, The Associated Press has found.
About 700 of these men are currently confined to vessels in Honolulu without visas, some making less than $1 an hour. They work without most basic labor protections just a few miles from Waikiki’s white sand beaches, catching premium tuna and swordfish sold at some of America’s most upscale grocery stores, hotels and restaurants.
The AP found that under Hawaii State law, these workers — who make up most of the crew in a fleet catching $110 million worth of seafood annually — may not be allowed to fish at all.
Workers could be vulnerable to exploitation and said they have little recourse about paying fees or incurring debt in order to hold their jobs.
There exists no system of grievance mechanisms for crew to voice concerns over pay.
Before the men start working at Honolulu harbor, they need a state commercial fishing license. In order to get it, Hawaii requires that they must be “lawfully admitted” to the U.S.
Here’s the hitch: When they arrive, they are met at the dock by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who ban them from entering the country by stamping “refused” on their landing permits, which voids them. So instead of being “lawfully admitted,” they are now barred by law from setting foot on U.S. soil.
In 2015, the AP reported on fishermen locked in a cage and others buried under fake names on the remote Indonesian island village of Benjina. Their catch was traced to the United States, leading to more than 2,000 slaves being freed. But thousands more remain trapped worldwide in a murky industry where work takes place far from shore and often without oversight.
In Hawaii, most vessels dock at piers 17 and 38, which are guarded and patrolled, but some go as far as the West Coast. And, although technically not allowed, they do venture onto the piers briefly to socialize and use restrooms.
Last year, Customs said six fishermen were deported after wandering away from their boats in Honolulu, some to visit friends on other vessels, others sneaking away for a drink.
In 2010, two Indonesian fishermen who fled their boat in San Francisco alleging abuse were granted visas as victims of human trafficking and are now suing their former boat owner.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said agents checking out a number of leads related to possible human trafficking in the fleet have “identified instances where crew members were contending with less than ideal working conditions,” but found no situations meeting the legal threshold to bring criminal charges.
Federal marine observers, who live with the men for weeks at a time at sea, said some fishermen have good working conditions while others are sometimes mistreated, not given proper health care, provided unclean drinking water and fed bait and rice. Many are forced to use buckets as toilets on board.
Others in the community also have concerns. Uli Kozak, an Indonesian language professor at the University of Hawaii who has long exchanged home-cooked meals for fresh fish, said the workers sometimes ask for vegetables because of shortages on board.
He said some captains have banned men from speaking their native language on boats.
There’s “a lot of verbal abuse, even physical abuse, being slapped in the face,” Kozak said. “I have come across cases where people said, ‘If I had ever known that it would be as bad as this, I would have never taken that job.'”
Here is what U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni, the chief federal law enforcement official in Hawaii, said: It’s all above board.”