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December 28, 2007

Legal analysis of AZ and TN illegal immigrant laws

The very informative Siskind Immigration Bulletin issued this informative analysis of laws going into effect 1/1/08. I have posted on the Arizona law but not the Tennessee law so far. Siskind writes,” The Arizona and Tennessee rules are similar in sanctioning employers who violate immigration laws with the revocation of their business licenses. This punishment is seemingly much more serious than the federal punishment of a fine since loss of a business license is really the death penalty for a business….2008 is likely to be a year of considerably more enforcement against employers violating immigration laws and we intend to cover the issue in great depth.”

The analysis:

On January 1st, employers in Arizona and Tennessee will begin having to comply with controversial new immigration laws that make those states enforcers of immigration law right along with the federal government. Whether state and local governments have the legal right to be doing this is the subject of many court battles around the country since the Founding Fathers clearly gave Congress the sole authority to regulate immigration. But with a Congress seemingly paralyzed in its attempts to get a handle on immigration policy and with 1400 bills pending around the country, the new reality is that employers will need to comply with a whole new set of laws on top of the existing federal rules.

The Arizona and Tennessee rules are similar in sanctioning employers who violate immigration laws with the revocation of their business licenses. This punishment is seemingly much more serious than the federal punishment of a fine since loss of a business license is really the death penalty for a business. Both rules provide a defense if employers have been complying with I-9 rules. Tennessee provides an additional safe harbor if employers have used the new E-Verify electronic employment verification system. Arizona goes a step further in actually mandating that all employers use E-Verify. This will represent a major expansion in the number of employers using E-Verify and it is far from clear whether the E-Verify system can handle the additional load. A recent report commissioned by the DHS itself noted that there is an unacceptable false positive rate and that as many as 10% of naturalized citizens show up in the E-Verify as being unauthorized to work.

Employers in Arizona had fought the new law and had been attempting to keep it from taking effect on the 1st. However, a judge has just denied an injunction order and the law will, in fact, take effect. An injunction is still holding in another measure aimed at employers – DHS’ social security number no match rule. DHS’ rule would sanction employers who are notified that their employees’ social security numbers and names do not match. One of the key issues in that case is also the high rate of false findings in the Social Security Administration database and the inability of that agency to resolve questions in a timely manner. However, DHS is promising to re-release a modified rule any day now that would attempt to meet the objections of the judge.

2008 is likely to be a year of considerably more enforcement against employers violating immigration laws and we intend to cover the issue in great depth.

To all of our readers around the world, all of us here at Siskind, Susser, Bland wish you all a year of peace, happiness and good health.

Greg Siskind

December 20, 2007

Arizona about to implement draconian law

Arizona’s draconian measures to root out illegal labor are the subject of this editorial on 12/18 by the New York Times. “On Jan. 1, Arizona intends to become the first state to try to muscle its way out of its immigration problems on its own. That is when, barring a last-minute setback in court, it is to begin enforcing a new state law that harshly punishes businesses that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants. It is a two-strike law, suspending a business’s license on the first offense and revoking it on the second. It is the strictest workplace-enforcement law in the country.” -- and today's papers (12/20) say that immigration is the most important topic among voters in Iowa.

The editorial goes on….

We have always said that workplace laws should be enforced vigorously — as part of a comprehensive, nationwide immigration system that doesn’t just punish, but tries to actually solve the problems that foster and sustain the breaking of immigration laws. The boosters of the Arizona law, including the Minutemen border vigilantes who have made “January First!” an anti-immigrant rallying cry, have a much narrower goal: the biggest purge of illegal immigrants in the Southwest since the federal government’s Operation Wetback in 1954.

If that happens, the immigrants will take a big chunk of Arizona’s growth and economic vitality with them — and not necessarily back across the international border. The collateral damage will be severe as citizens and legal immigrants are also thrown out of work, as businesses struggle to find workers in a state with a 3.3 percent unemployment rate and as sleazy employers move more workers off the books, the better to abuse and exploit them. And the national problem of undocumented immigration will be no closer to a solution.

There are many compassion-and-common-sense criticisms of Arizona’s Fair and Legal Employment Act: stories about families torn apart, breadwinners deported and citizen children on public assistance. They make little headway with the law-and-order crowd. Nor does the fact that many hard-line defenders of workplace enforcement show a lopsided devotion to federal laws; they seldom complain when employers abuse undocumented immigrants and steal their wages, even though those violations worsen job conditions and pay for American workers, too.

For now, let’s just point out that Arizona’s plunge into enforcement-only immigration policy highlights the folly and inadequacy of that approach, particularly when it is left to a crazy quilt of state laws. America is a country where millions of illegal immigrants have entered for years all but invited and mostly not pursued. They have become integral to our economy, although now — thanks to harsher enforcement and the defeat of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress — most have no way to become legal, no options except slipping back into destitution on the other side of the border.

There is no way for Arizona or any other state to get businesses back on a legal footing without exacting a great economic and human toll.

It could be that Arizona’s enforcement of the law will be calm and measured. But we worry about Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and two-thirds of the state’s population. Maricopa’s county attorney, Andrew Thomas, and county sheriff, Joe Arpaio, are prone to media-driven stunts. Sheriff Arpaio makes a show of his meanness, hounding and humiliating prisoners and forming his deputies into squads that check people’s clothes and accents before demanding their papers.

Arizona is home to many moderate politicians, like Gov. Janet Napolitano, who were all too aware of the bill’s problems, and yet it became law. Many say the Minutemen and their allies had offered an ultimatum: approve this bill or face a citizen’s initiative on the 2008 ballot that would be even harsher and blunter, and all but impossible to repair. That promise was reneged on; petitions for the Minutemen’s initiative are being collected now.

As Arizona exacts its punishment on the undocumented workers who have made it so prosperous, it runs the risk of proving itself tough but not smart.

December 14, 2007

Arizona crackdown on illegal workers may hit state economy

“Arizona Squeeze On Immigration Angers Business” is the title of a Wall Street Journal article published today. The article tracks the impact of legislation and law enforcement measures against illegal immigrants. The effect of removing illegal workers may have a hugely negative impact on the Arizona economy.

As the article says, “About 500,000 undocumented immigrants live in Arizona, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and independent estimates suggest about 350,000 of them are working. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, account for 14% of the work force. The state enjoys one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation, and its unemployment rate last year was just 3.3%.

A University of Arizona study released earlier this year concluded that economic output would drop 8.2% annually if noncitizen foreign-born workers were removed from the labor force. Researchers estimate about two-thirds of the workers in that category are in the state illegally.”

The entire article:

PHOENIX -- Arizona businesses are firing Hispanic immigrants, moving operations to Mexico and freezing expansion plans ahead of a new law that cracks down on employers who hire undocumented workers.

The law, set to take effect on Jan. 1, thrusts Arizona into the heart of the national debate on illegal immigration, which has become a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail. Republican candidates, in particular, have been battling to show how tough they are on the issue.

Arizona's law, believed to be the strictest in the nation, is shaping up as a test of how employers will react when faced with real sanctions for hiring undocumented labor. It is being closely watched by businesses across the country. While proponents say the crackdown will save the state money on services for illegal immigrants, some businesspeople fear Arizona's economic growth may be at risk.

Under the law, people will be encouraged to contact a county sheriff's or county attorney's office to report businesses they suspect of employing an illegal immigrant. After the sheriff investigates, the county attorney can then seek to suspend and ultimately revoke the business license of an employer who knowingly hires an illegal immigrant. The measure would also require all Arizona businesses to use E-Verify, a federal online database, to confirm that new hires have valid Social Security numbers and are eligible for employment.

The law still faces a court challenge from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and other business groups. Yesterday, a federal judge set a hearing for next Tuesday on a temporary restraining order that would freeze the law's implementation. Earlier, the judge tossed out a separate lawsuit challenging the law, saying the plaintiffs had sued the wrong parties.

With Congress deadlocked over an immigration overhaul, many states and cities are taking matters into their own hands. Some local efforts are meant to make it hard for illegal immigrants to get housing and jobs, but recent court rulings have suggested these measures may face constitutional hurdles. Meanwhile, measures that accommodate the presence of undocumented immigrants -- such as New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's failed attempt to extend drivers' licenses to them -- have been met with a harsh public response.

The issue has echoed in the presidential campaign, as voters passionate about illegal immigration have impelled candidates to take stronger stands. One of the few candidates to buck the trend has been Arizona's senior senator, Republican John McCain. His poll ratings took a beating after he supported a Senate bill that would have given legal status to millions of people here illegally.

"It's simple. People want a crackdown," says John Kavanagh, a Republican state representative in Arizona who co-sponsored the crackdown bill. It passed both chambers of the state legislature June 20 by more than 4-to-1 margins.

Businesses are pushing back against the law, even as they scramble to comply with it. "It's crystal-clear that the employer sanctions law will harm the state economy," says Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "It's simply a question of degree."

About 500,000 undocumented immigrants live in Arizona, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and independent estimates suggest about 350,000 of them are working. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, account for 14% of the work force. The state enjoys one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation, and its unemployment rate last year was just 3.3%.

A University of Arizona study released earlier this year concluded that economic output would drop 8.2% annually if noncitizen foreign-born workers were removed from the labor force. Researchers estimate about two-thirds of the workers in that category are in the state illegally.

"Getting rid of these workers means we are deciding as a matter of policy to shrink our economy," says Judith Gans, an immigration scholar at the university's Udall Center. "They're filling vital gaps in our labor force."

Sheridan Bailey, president of steel-beam manufacturer Ironco, said he has fired several Hispanic employees in anticipation of the sanctions law. "This law has the potential of sinking a business," he said. Mr. Bailey, who has formed a business group to address the issue, said Congress's inaction has allowed "policies to be generated on the fringe."

Ironco recently sealed a deal to outsource some production to a Mexican company. "The labor market is tight, and I face fines if I don't meet my commitments," said Mr. Bailey. Pacing his company's steel-fabrication bay, where welders and fitters build columns, he asked rhetorically: "Who will work here in 112-degree heat, come the summer?"

Dora Cardenas, who owns a small Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, has lost six out of 12 employees since late November. They moved to other states. "They say they were afraid to be here," said Ms. Cardenas. "I'm even afraid to be here, and I am a legal resident." She said business is down almost 40% since the summer at her restaurant, which caters mainly to a Latino clientele.

Jason Levecke, the grandson of the founder of the Carl's Jr. fast-food empire and the state's biggest franchisee, has put on hold plans to open 20 more outlets statewide. "That's $30 million that could blow up in my face," he said. "The risk is too great."

Rep. Kavanagh, the bill co-sponsor, disputed claims that the law will hurt Arizona's economy. "The illegals are a drain on the economy," he said, referring to education and other government benefits that some undocumented immigrants receive.

In one sense, the bill is having its desired impact: Employers are rushing to ensure they don't have undocumented workers. Mr. Levecke says he has hired outside auditors three times to ensure his 1,200 employees are clear, and he let several of them go after the checks. Earlier this week, 300 human-resources managers packed a ballroom at a Scottsdale resort to learn how to cope with the law and possible raids on their premises.

Arizona has become a laboratory for bills and policies to crack down on illegal immigration. In 2004, it passed a proposal to prevent illegal immigrants from using state services, such as adult education and nonemergency health care. Earlier this month, a ballot initiative was introduced to deny U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born in Arizona, which critics say is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Supporters of such measures say the point is to deny people who broke U.S. law the benefit of government services. Opponents contend prejudice is the real motive. "This is about resistance to the browning of the state of Arizona," said Democratic state Rep. Pete Rios.

While there is no sign of a mass exodus, immigrant advocates report that the sanctions law, coupled with stepped-up efforts to arrest illegal immigrants, has prompted some undocumented families to leave.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an elected official who has made illegal immigration his focus, has deployed deputies to arrest undocumented day laborers as well as fruit and corn vendors in recent months. If the law goes into effect as scheduled, Sheriff Arpaio will be in charge of investigating complaints against employers in the county, home to two-thirds of all Arizonans.

Mr. Levecke, of Carl's Jr., says some customers, emboldened by the law, are confronting his Hispanic workers about their immigration status, sometimes using insults.

Isabel de la Rosa lives with her husband, Benito, and three children in a Phoenix trailer park called La Rancheria, where several for-sale signs have gone up in recent weeks. "We are all so afraid, we don't even want to go shopping," said Mrs. de la Rosa, 35 years old, whose entire family is undocumented.

She works as a volunteer at her children's local elementary school. Her husband, who works for a furniture-delivery company, said his American boss is planning to take his business elsewhere. "We are thinking of moving, too," said Mr. de la Rosa.

December 13, 2007

More on aftermath of December 2006 Swift raids

Thanks to Workers Comp Insider for alerting me to an excellent follow up on the raids. It is in CtW Connect (Courage to Win). Towns in Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska are reviewed, with lots of hyperlinks. I have included the report in full below:

The ICE Raids: One Year Later

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s (ICE) raids of Swift and Co. meatpacking plants in six cities in Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, Minnesota and Utah. In all, 1,282 Swift employees were arrested.

Photojournalist David Bacon wrote a great piece days after the raids.

Local news coverage reveals that those communities are still feeling the effects of the raids – in unfinished cases, a lack of follow-up to the federal investigations and in lingering anger and tensions among the local Latino and Anglo communities.

Greeley, Colorado

* Of the 262 people arrested in Greeley that day, most were deported to Mexico through the ICE offices in Denver. Eighteen were kept in Greeley and booked to face charges of identity theft and fraud. Of those, 11 were charged, and seven had their charges dismissed if they agreed to testify in future trials, which never came.
* Ken Buck, the District Attorney, said his office had enough evidence to go after employees higher up in the Swift organization, but it was in the federal jurisdiction. ICE and federal officials decided not to prosecute. “It was a great injustice that higher-up people at Swift were not prosecuted,” Buck said.
* When the Swift plant reopened, the jobs filled quickly, and the company said it would do a better job of checking Social Security numbers and ID papers. Months later, Swift sold the plant to a Brazilian meatpacking company, and although the sale was not related to the ICE raids, the new company admitted it has been difficult to find employees for additional shifts.
* Latino leader Ricardo Romero says the cases are still plaguing the community. “We have 26 families who have members out on bond. They can’t leave because they have to be available for court. They can’t work, and some of them can’t go to court for seven more months.”
* Latino families that remain in Greeley don’t want to talk to the media, fearing repercussions.
* Then-mayor Tom Selders lost a re-election campaign in part because he traveled to Washington, D.C. to tell of the impact of the raids on Greeley.
* Some of the deported people have likely returned to Greeley.

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition will hold a statewide day of remembrance today for the people affected by last year’s Swift ICE raids.

See the Greeley Tribune and Fort Collins Now.

Worthington, Minnesota

On December 12, ICE officers arrested 239 undocumented immigrants in this southwest Minnesota city.

* Former Swift employee Melina Martinez says although the company got new owners last summer, managers still struggle to replace the lost employees. That means more work for veteran employees like herself. She says there are still many undocumented immigrants working at the plant. She's even heard that some of the deported workers have returned, although not to Swift.
* ICE officials say they continue to monitor the Swift plants. The agency conducted a second raid last summer, arresting 20 current or former Swift employees.
* Ruthie Hendrycks, head of a group called Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform that advocates strict enforcement of immigration laws, says there should be more raids like the ones at Swift. "We were hopeful that this process would continue. Now in retrospect, I'm not so sure if it was more for show," says Hendrycks.
* "They left behind homes and mortgages, they left behind women, most of the time, and they left behind citizen children who were in our schools, preparing for their holiday program, and who have had to carry on," says John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. "There will be consequences of an enforcement-only approach to immigration. We may see it one year later, we may see it 10 years later."

See Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune.

Grand Island, Nebraska

* ICE reports that 649 of the 1,297 workers arrested a year ago today have been deported. Officials say the total number will be much higher as more cases are resolved.
* All of the 1,297 workers were given administrative charges for being in the country illegally. Of those, 274 including 26 in Grand Island were charged
* The plant was temporarily shut down while virtually every employee on the site was required to provide valid identification.

See Grand Island Independent.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union filed a class-action lawsuit seeking an injunction against future large-scale raids since the raids are a violation of workers’ constitutional rights.

The Urban Institute and the National Council of La Raza released a report last month called Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children. The report details the impact raids have on the psychological, educational, economic, and social well-being of children caught in the middle of a broken immigration system. It also outlines the heavy burden that workplace raids place on communities, school systems, social service providers, and religious institutions, which have acted as first responders for families in these incidents.

Posted by Chris Ortman on December 12, 2007 at 3:29 PM | Permalink
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December 9, 2007

Records of Hispanic deaths on the job

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) records with brief analysis every occupational death in the country. One of its reports deals only with deaths of Hispanic workers. Here it is.

December 7, 2007

After the meatpacking raids: one year later

ICE made big raids on Swift meatpacking plants in December 2006. I have posted on it several times. Jennifer Ludden of National Public Radio reported on how one Cargill plant, hurting for workers, is recruiting in Puerto Rico for jobs in Illinois. From this report, it appears that replacing illegal workers has not been easy.

Morning Edition, December 6, 2007 · A year ago, immigration agents arrested more than 1,200 illegal workers at Swift meat-packing plants in six states.

The arrests set off a debate about whether immigrants take the grueling jobs away from Americans. Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter said last summer that the day after the raids, Americans were lined up to get their $18-an-hour jobs back.

In reality, the meat-packing plants pay an average hourly rate of $11 or $12 — and no one is lining up to work there.

Many plants, even those that were not raided, must still recruit heavily for legal workers.

In July, a Cargill plant in Beardstown, Ill., began running advertisements in Puerto Rico's capital city, San Juan.

Officials then flew over to conduct interviews there and in four other towns.

Andrea Agosto heard about the jobs and was among the first group of Puerto Ricans that Cargill flew to its pork-processing plant in August.

"It was for a change and for a better life for my three children," she says.

Agosto has doubled her salary.

Maria Clayton had been the Beardstown plant's only Puerto Rican employee. She has been shuttling back and forth to the airport to pick up the new arrivals and help them get settled. So far, 50 people have made the trip.

Clayton says even the drive from the airport through Illinois' rural corn and bean country is something of a culture shock.

"Last night, I picked up two people, and they were amazed: 'Oh, my God, it's pitch black, it's pitch black. This is so far, are we there yet?' "

Clayton says they all ask, "What do you do for fun?" She tells them there isn't much to do. "But I always tell them, 'You know, if you want to change (your) life, and you want to save money (and) feel safe — this is a good place to be.' "

Cargill spokesman Mark Klein says the company has long had to recruit outside its plants' locations and targets places with high unemployment. Puerto Ricans make good candidates because they are U.S. citizens and many have experience in the industry.

"What interested us about Puerto Rico was there was a pork plant in Corozal that had closed a while back, and we wanted to hire people that had meat experience," Klein says. He says he does not think any of his competitors know that, but he expects word to get around.

Mark Grey, who studies the meat-packing industry at the University of Northern Iowa, says there is a premium on finding legal workers because of the crackdown on illegal immigrants.

"A lot of people in the industry have told me that they're running scared. They've looked at the potential for they, themselves, to become arrested — the managers, the recruiters, everyone else," Grey says.

Grey says the industry is doing more to weed out illegal workers, but that cuts into a thin profit margin of 1 percent to 3 percent. To make money, you need to cut up a lot of animals, and that takes a lot of people, he says.

Grey says most of the Americans who lined up to get meat-industry jobs after the Swift raids never got out of training, or they got to the floor and lasted just a few hours — not days.

In Beardstown, the transition for the new Puerto Rican workers has not been all smooth.

Shelly Heideman, who organizes aid for immigrants through the Elizabeth Ann Seton Program, says she has had to expand her efforts to secure donations because the incoming Puerto Ricans need so much.

"First of all, they said (they need) winter clothing, especially for their children," she says. They also need furnishings, pots and pans, linens, towels, sheets, blankets and almost anything you need to establish a home, Heideman says.

Agosto says a couple of the other Puerto Rican workers who came with her in August have already gone back.

"They didn't like the work, and it's so cold inside the factory. We weren't really prepared for that," she says.

But Agosto says it is worth it for her. She recently brought one son over from Puerto Rico, and he plans to start work at the Cargill plant in January. She hopes to bring her two other children next summer.

December 4, 2007

Domestic slavery in America among foreign workers

The New York Times on 12/3 ran a lengthy article about a slavery case now before the court on Long Island. The article refers to a handful of other domestic slavery cases in the U.S. How big is this problem? The article surmises that “5,000 to 7,000 migrant domestic servants take jobs each year in homes where they are highly vulnerable to abuse by their employers…” Thanks to Cathleen Caron of Global Worker Justice for bringing this story to my attention.

The entire story:

From Stand in Long Island Slavery Case, a Snapshot of a Hidden U.S. Problem

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y., Nov. 30 — The two tiny Indonesian women know just a handful of English words. They know Windex. Fantastik (the cleanser, not the adjective). They know the words Master and Missus, which they were taught to use in addressing the Long Island couple they served as live-in help for five years in the sylvan North Shore hamlet of Muttontown.

Their employers, Varsha Sabhnani, 35, and her husband, Mahender, 51, naturalized citizens from India, have been on trial in U.S. District Court here for the past month. They are charged with what the federal criminal statutes refer to as involuntary servitude and peonage, or, in the common national parlance since 1865, the crime of keeping slaves.

The two women, the government charged in its indictment, were victims of “modern-day slavery.”

It is a rarely prosecuted crime. But since passage of the 2000 federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, prosecutions have increased from less than a handful nationwide per year to about a dozen. The law is probably best known for its focus on prostitution and child-sex traffickers; yet in the last few years, in a few highly publicized cases like the Sabhnanis’, federal and state task forces set up to deal with sex trafficking have also begun to focus on the exploitation of domestic workers.

Last year, the wife of a Saudi prince was convicted in Boston for keeping two house servants for three years in virtual slavery. In 2005, two doctors in Wisconsin were convicted of holding a Philippine woman as an indentured servant for 20 years. Federal prosecutors won convictions in 2003 against a Maryland couple who kept a Brazilian woman in their home as a servant for 15 years, paying her nothing.

In the Long Island case, prosecutors say the two Indonesian women were made to sleep in closets of the sprawling, multimillion-dollar home of their employers. They were forced to work day and night, threatened, tortured, beaten with rolling pins and brooms, deprived of adequate food and never allowed out of the house except to take out the garbage.

The defense lawyers, who are scheduled to begin their case on Monday, have characterized the two women as liars, practitioners of witchcraft, and inventors of a false claim designed to win them fast-track advantages that federal immigration law grants certain victims of torture and abuse. Whatever injuries the women may have suffered, the lawyers said, were self-inflicted in the practice of a traditional Indonesian folk cure known as kerokan.

Advocacy groups, prosecutors and researchers who study labor trafficking say domestic workers are as vulnerable to exploitation as sex workers, and in some ways even harder to reach.

“The domestic servant cases are often the most brutal because of the total isolation in which these women are kept for years and years,” said Cathleen Caron, executive director of Global Workers Justice Alliance, a New York-based advocacy group that provides legal help to exploited migrant workers. She has been watching the Sabhnani case with interest, she said.

The Indonesian women in the Long Island case are identified by the government only by their first names, Samirah and Enung. They are 51 and 47 years old, respectively. Each stands less than five feet tall. In their many hours of translated testimony and cross-examination so far, halted occasionally by fits of sobbing, they have told a grim tale at odds with every notion of modern life in the United States.

The Sabhnanis, who are perfume manufacturers with relatives and business contacts in Indonesia, lured them from their jobs and families in Jakarta in 2002 with false promises, they say, and then subjected them to relentless abuse until Samirah ran away in May.

Regardless of the jury’s verdict, the case has raised the profile of a population, mostly of women, hidden in the folds of some very affluent American households, according to advocates for exploited workers.

Claudia Flores, a staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union who recently represented three Indian women kept in involuntary servitude by foreign diplomats in Washington, said foreign workers unfamiliar with American culture and language, already vulnerable, are pushed beyond the pale by isolation.

“Many times, they are forbidden to talk to people who come into the house,” Ms. Flores said. “If there are two of them, they are often forbidden to talk to each other. Their phone calls are monitored. They are not allowed to go anywhere unaccompanied. We are only seeing the women who are lucky enough and capable enough to find assistance. What we see is really only the tip of the iceberg.”

A report released in July by the federal State Department, “Pursuing a Dream and Finding a Nightmare,” said the exploitation of women as domestic workers in the United States and abroad was a crime that has “largely gone unpunished for too long.”

The report, written by research staff in the department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, underlined the government’s concern for “unskilled women from developing countries, particularly women working as domestics,” who it said often “fall victim to conditions of servitude in developed destination countries, including the United States.”

Jodi Bobb, a U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman, said the Long Island slavery case was one of about 100 prosecutions for involuntary servitude or labor trafficking since passage of the 2000 anti-trafficking law. Not all of them involved domestic workers, she said, but that number represents a two-fold increase in such prosecutions compared with the seven years before 2000.

The number of migrant domestic servants living in involuntary servitude in the United States is a matter for guessing, but there are some well-informed guesses. The State Department report estimated that the total number of people trafficked to the United States annually was 15,000 to 20,000.

The figures do not distinguish between people trafficked for prostitution or factory, farm or domestic work. But advocates including Ms. Flores and Ms. Caron, based on hundreds of cases that filter through their agencies, estimated that domestic workers accounted for about one-third of the total.

In other words, 5,000 to 7,000 migrant domestic servants take jobs each year in homes where they are highly vulnerable to abuse by their employers, they say.

Whether or not they live in conditions as violent as Samirah and Enung claim to have suffered, almost all are uneducated women from the world’s poorest countries, according to the State Department report. Some are children.

They may sign employment contracts promising wages that seem princely in their home countries — Samirah and Enung agreed to $100 a month, for instance — but which severely limit their options here. The temporary visas they obtain with their new employers’ help usually expire after three to six months, giving employers ammunition to threaten the servants with certain arrest if they leave the house.

“Who would do this to another human being?” said Suzanne Tomatore, director of the Immigrant Women and Children Project of the New York City Bar Association, which has assisted dozens of migrant domestic servants. “All kinds of people. Doctors, lawyers, professionals, business people, diplomats — the only thing the employers have in common as a group is they all have the resources to pay someone a fair wage, but they choose not to.”

Ms. Tomatore said prosecutions were difficult for obvious reasons: language and cultural barriers. Fear. In many cases, depression. One of her clients, a 24-year-old woman, had been a domestic servant in one household since she was 6. “She had never been to school,” said Ms. Tomatore, who would not identify the woman or the employers except to say they were diplomats from an African nation who have since left. The woman was given permanent legal immigration status. She works in an office.

During the Long Island trial, sobbing sometimes overtook Samirah as she described the tortures she was subjected to — being forced to run up and down stairs until exhausted, to eat whole hot chili peppers, to stand still while “the Missus” scalded her with boiling hot water. Sometimes the sobbing overtook Enung, who described being forced to help perform some of those tortures on Samirah.

The case is unusual, advocates say, because there were other witnesses to corroborate some of the women’s claims. Among them was a woman who worked for Mr. Sabhnani’s perfume company, which is based in an office attached to the Muttontown house. She said she was shocked one day to see Samirah crawling up the basement stairs, bleeding from the forehead. The woman testified that Samirah and Enung told her that Mrs. Sabhnani had beaten her.

A landscape contractor testified that Enung approached him furtively one morning, raggedly dressed, pointing to her stomach and uttering one of her few English words: “Doughnut,” he recalled her saying. “Doughnut.” He gave her the half-dozen doughnuts he had in his truck.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she cried as she ran back toward the big house, he said.