Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Greek Boys Held in Peonage Here - Federal Immigration Revelations Will Mean Prosecutions" article - Chicago Daily Tribune, June 25, 1907


Published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, June 25, 1907

GREEK BOYS HELD 
IN PEONAGE HERE
-----
Federal Immigration Officials' 
Revelations Will
Mean Prosecutions.
-----
CONSUL GENERAL BUSY.
-----
Georg Antonopoulos Taken Into
Custody on Perjury Charge
in Making Affidavit.

Several hundred Greek boys are being held to peonage in Chicago fruit stores and shoe shining establishments.  This fact has been revealed by an investigation conducted by the federal immigration officials, aided by Nicholas Salopoulos, the Greek consul general.  Prosecution of the employers for violation of the immigration law will be based on the evidence obtained.

The methods by which the boys are imported and landed in Chicago were brought to light through the arrest yesterday of Georg Antonopoulos, 7?0 West Eighty-first street, on the charge of perjury in making an affidavit that two Greek immigrants arriving at Boston were his brother and nephew.  The case will be heard by Judge Landis on Thursday and the fictitious brother will be a witness for the prosecution, which will be conducted by Assistant District Attorney Shirer.

System of Deception.

It is by means of a far reaching system of deception, in which relatives, friends, and the steamship companies conspire, that the boys are transported from their native land to bondage in Chicago.  When the proprietor of a shoe shining "parlor," for example, wants additional help, he purchases several tickets good for steerage passage from Greece to Chicago.  The tickets cost him $50 each.

The employer then sends the tickets to a relative or a friend in Greece, who in turn sells them to boys who wish to come to this country.  The youth is charged anywhere from $150 to $200 for his ticket, and is required to sign a note for the amount, payable to the employer in Chicago.  These notes are peculiar in form, and virtually are contracts to work out the amount of the "loan."

The boy then is taken to the steamship company's agent, who finds an adult passenger to pose as the father or other relative of the minor.  Under this guise the youth passes the immigration officials at the American port of entry, and soon is on a train bound for Chicago.

Counsel Often Interferes.

Arriving here, the boy is lodged with other Greek boys in the employer's house, where he is boarded at the master's expense.  It is usual for the youth to work a year to satisfy the "loan."  By that time he has learned some English and he gets a better position.  Occasionally an employer attempts to hold boys against their will, and Consul Salopoulos is obliged to interfere.  But the employer secures the year's labor of the youth for a total outlay of $50 and not more than $100 for clothes and lodging.

The two immigrants detained at Boston gave their names as Constantine and Evangelos Antonopoulos. They were about to be deported when Georg Antonopoulos forwarded an affidavit that they were his brother and nephew respectively.  He said he was a foreman in the International Harvester company and would care for his relatives.

Was No Relation.

The immigration officials, however, discovered that the alleged brother was Duionisos Papadopoulos, no relation.  He was brought to Chicago as a witness against Antonopoulos, who had been indicted for perjury.  Unable to give bond, the witness was lodged in the county jail.

Papadopoulos said he bought his ticket from the father of Antonopoulos in Greece for $150, giving a promissory note running to the Chicago man whose name was on the ticket.  Then he assumed the name of Antonopoulos and brought one of the Chicago Greek's younger brothers as his son.  He said that another Greek, Leonidas Demetsas bought the third ticket sent from Chicago, and managed to slip through under the assumed name.  He is now supposed to be in this city.

Antonopoulos fled the city soon after his indictment and was captured by the federal authorities last Saturday night at Marquette, Mich.




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