Week 6: A New Kind of Human Trafficking and Midtown’s Food Trucks

               This week, GAIN had an interesting intake interview with a client from Cameroon.  He was recruited to come to the U.S. to what he thought was a prep school where he would have the opportunity to learn English and play soccer in front of university scouts in the hopes of eventually landing an athletic scholarship for college.  He was told that he just needed to apply for the school’s academic and athletic scholarship, and that once he arrived, all of his other expenses would be paid for.  But when he arrived at the school in the U.S., he slowly realized he had been lied to.  The “prep school” was actually a converted gymnasium.  There were no real English classes offered, only basic high school level classes in mathematics.  There was also no soccer team like he was promised; the only team sports offered were basketball and American football. Even worse were the living conditions.  Six students were crammed into tiny apartment with no beds, and they were given little food.  What food they were given was often expired. The director of the school also began demanding that the students pay monthly “fees” for their expenses. He would tell them to call home and ask their families for this money, or he would have them sent back to their home countries.  After a couple of months of this treatment, most of the other students left.  Our client has no relatives or friends in the U.S., so he was not able to leave this situation for a couple more months when Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), which is part of Homeland Security, eventually investigated the school. The client has come to GAIN in the hopes of applying for a T visa, which, as I’ve mentioned is for human trafficking victims. Typically, however, trafficking victims are forced into some type of labor, like farm work, domestic servitude, or prostitution. This case is unique in that the students were not forced to work, but were forced to pay fees. Additionally, although it is illegal for colleges to pay for the recruitment of athletes, sometimes money is exchanged under the table for recruiting potential athletic stars or the coach who “discovered” the athlete is given a job on the university’s coaching staff. Therefore, GAIN needs to speak with the ICE agent who helped remove our client from this terrible situation to determine if ICE is going to charge the school director with human trafficking or some other crime that could help our client qualify for some sort of immigration relief. Hopefully after all he has been through, this client will be able to qualify for some type of relief so he can still pursue his dream of playing college soccer. 

            In addition to our “regular” work, the staff of GAIN took a little field trip for lunch one day this week.  Every Thursday, a group of food trucks parks in a lot in Midtown, not too far from GAIN.  It is an eclectic bunch, and from week to week, different ones participate. I’ve been twice so far with my co-workers, and both times tried creative dishes.  The first time I went, I had a Latin-Asian fusion burrito, which used a traditional tortilla but was filled with Korean-style barbeque.  I also had sesame fries, which were served with a spicy Siracha mayonnaise. This week, I tried the Wow foodtruck’s arepas. Arepas are flatbread made of ground maize dough.  They reminded me a bit of a cornbread, and were served with pulled pork that the food truck had smoked for 20 hours and a creamy cilantro and jalapeno sauce.  If you are ever in Midtown Atlanta on a Thursday, definitely check these trucks out on 12th and Peachtree!   

Midtown’s Food Trucks

food trucks