Migrant Crossings
Witnessing Human Trafficking in the U.S.
Annie Isabel Fukushima


Contents and Abstracts
chapter abstract

Case-examples of Latino migrants who were seen as victims of human trafficking are juxtaposed with migrant cases, where the alleged victim is seen as a criminal. As such, the introduction opens with the stakes of what it means for some migrants to be seen as victims of human trafficking, and the social, political, and legal consequences of being invisible. Therefore, the introduction introduces the reader to central concepts in the book: criminalization, migrant labor, tethered subjectivity, transnational feminism, witnessing, unsettled witnessing, decolonial and migrant crossings. It also offers a summary of the book.

1 An American Haunting: Witnessing Human Trafficking and Ghostly Exclusions
chapter abstract

"An American Haunting" examines transnational migration, in particular a popularized case referred to as the "ghost case" or the "blessing scam." The blessing scam is an internationally known where Chinese migrants were "swindled" out of their money and jewelry. However, as a normative narrative of criminality circulated in popular media, another story coalesced around a story of vulnerability and victimhood. Through an interdisciplinary and transnational feminist method, I examine how the ghost case was a human trafficking that never was. Through a theory of "unsettled witnessing," this chapter examines the multiple contexts of migration, violence, labor, and informal economies to further unravel the dichotomies that are normalized in human right's rhetoric and practice: victim/criminal, illegal/legal, and citizen/noncitizen. Other cases examined include United States v. Fang Ping Ding and United States v. Kil Soo Lee.

2 Legal Control of Migrant Crossings: Citizenship, Labor, and Racialized Sexualities
chapter abstract

"Legal Genealogies of Migrant Crossings" frames how one is constituted as trafficked by the law, its enforcement, its production through discourse, and its social implications. This chapter contextualizes "modern-day slavery" and U.S. trafficking laws. Due to the layers of scales in which human-trafficking laws exist—state, nation-state, and international—this chapter offers a mapping of human-trafficking laws and their intersections with labor migration and racialized sexualities.

3 "Perfect Victims" and Labor Migration
chapter abstract

There is a common perception of a "perfect victim" as a passive victim is the norm in anti-trafficking discourse. This chapter explores how notions of victimhood are tied to legality, narrative, and choice. To explore victimhood, legal case studies of domestic servitude are examined: United States v. the Calimlims, United States v. the Jacksons, and United States v. the Lundbergs. The research on Filipina/o migration and diasporic subjectivities is rich; however, few studies examine the Filipina/o trafficking experience in the context of criminality. This chapter juxtaposes immigrant victimhood and criminality through homosocial and coethnic violence of Filipinas trafficking Filipinas.

4 Witnessing Legal Narratives, Court Performances, and Translations of Peruvian Domestic Work
chapter abstract

This chapter examines the case of United States v. Dann, in which a Peruvian domestic worker was trafficked into servitude in California. Central to this narrative is the testimony, which also must be analyzed as an authoritative document that is performed. This chapter examines raced, gendered, and classed dynamics between the indigenous Latina domestic worker, Liliana, who was perceived of as vulnerable and a victim. In contrast to Liliana, the upper-class Peruvian woman employer, Dann, was constructed as criminal. This case study highlights a deeper understanding of court performances and the role of crying and translation in human-trafficking cases through a micro-case examination in the context of macro-perceptions of human trafficking and immigration.

5 (Living)Dead Subjects: Mamasans, Sex Slaves, and Sexualized Economies
chapter abstract

Trafficking subjects are like the living dead, resurrected time and again for the living. This chapter examines how the representation of Korean sexualities reproduce (living)dead subjects that haunt the living through figures of the comfort woman, sex workers, and sex trafficking in the United States. Korean Americans are addressing their socially dead status, which continues to circulate through mass-media consumption of raids and rescue as exemplified in the film Eden(2012) starring Korean American actress Jamie Chung, premised on the story of a Korean American sex-trafficked survivor.

chapter abstract

Migrant Crossings ends with technologies and the image of the Cyclops. Through the case of Operation Syclops, the closing chapter ends with surveillance and the terms of legibility that create citizen subjects through frames of victimhood, criminality, and notions of legality. The technologies range from technologies of mobilizing a human rights agenda through apps to surveillance of particular economies such as Asian massage parlors and the U.S. border. It is a reflection of the contemporary climate of human-trafficking laws, immigration, and the climate of terror and insecurity in a post-9/11 era and mobile gendered subjects—trafficked immigrant women.