Migrant Women Clean American Homes for Slave Wages
The American Dream = 15 hours of hard labor per day for $125 per week. This piece is by Reuters reporter Tim Gaynor:
For Mexican housemaid Estela, the day began before dawn feeding and changing the six-month-old baby of her American 'patrona' or boss in a Los Angeles suburb.
After making breakfast for her employer's other four children, she would walk them to school and then set about scrubbing and cleaning the house before finally finishing her chores more than 15 hours later -- all for $125 a week.
The 34-year-old from Oaxaca state is among thousands of Hispanic illegal immigrants for whom scrubbing, mopping and dusting in private homes is the first, and for many, the only, job open to them in the United States.
Immigrants' rights groups say as many as 900,000 female illegal immigrants work as maids in the country, where some 10 to 12 million undocumented workers live in the shadows.
They are hired by private employers and labor agencies despite not having visas or social security cards.
Millions more work as store, office and restaurant cleaners throughout the country.
They face an array of problems including long hours, low pay, intimidation and even sexual harassment as they toil in a hidden workplace where the employers make up the rules.
"It was like one of those fairy tales where you have endless tasks to do, only this was real," said Estela, who is no-longer a live in maid but rather does freelance cleaning, which she says gives her more control over her life.
"I put up with it because I had just arrived in the United States and I didn't know a soul," she added.