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The Church of Scientology and its Secret History of Exploitation


Sep 08, 2022

Ekaterina Tikhonova né

This summary about the Church of Scientology and its exploitation of foreign workers was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Readers have described our 18-month investigation co-produced with New York Magazine as “almost too unhinged to be real,” and “a terribly important exposé” into the exploitation of foreign workers committed by the Church of Scientology.

The Church of Scientology is accused of committing massive visa fraud to import thousands of foreign workers to the U.S. These workers were brought in under the pretense of religious work but instead they cleaned dumpsters, cooked, and performed a variety of tasks. “None of it’s voluntary,” said a victim. She was a minor, and is one of over 40 sources reporter Kevin T. Dugan spoke to. 

Over the past 30 years, Scientology and its exploitation of thousands of foreign workers has saved the church potentially more than $1 billion. Dive into the story on Documented.

Officer suspended for striking migrant: Footage and eye-witness reports reveal Meiver Martinez, a 21-year-old from Venezuela who arrived in New York a month ago, was slapped, pushed, and electrocuted with a taser multiple times, causing him to have to be transported to a hospital. The Department of Homeless Services Officer responsible for the assault has been suspended.

The incident happened Wednesday at a shelter in Crown Heights in the early hours of the morning, writes Giulia Mcdonnell Nieto Del Rio, Documented’s Report for America Corps member who covers immigration enforcement. 

Other migrants allege they are mistreated inside the facility too and that they don’t feel safe there. Documented’s report details a statement from a DSS spokesperson concerning the violence and misconduct. Learn more here.

Wages stolen from the U.S. Open’s immigrant workers: The glamor of the U.S. Open does not extend to the workers who keep it running, writes Amir Khafagy, Documented’s Report for America Corps member who covers labor. 

Over $4,500 is owed to workers, including 71-year-old Maria and her sister Luz, who prepared food for fans at the 2021 U.S. Open. 

Both women, well past retirement age, spent over eight exhausting hours a day washing, peeling, and cutting fruits and vegetables. They were unpaid and abruptly laid off because the company said it had ‘over-hired.’ 

Event Aces, the U.S. Open’s subcontractor in this case, appears to have a long track record of wage theft. Read now on Documented.


New York

Muslim groups are alarmed by CNN’s new hire: John Miller resigned from the NYPD after denying the police ever inappropriately spied on Muslims. He’s now a law enforcement analyst for CNN and Muslim Americans are concerned. — HuffPost

Documented spotlighted with four other nonprofits for its coverage of underreported news: Ever wondered how Documented was created? Our co-founders discuss its beginnings and how we have investigated immigrants’ stories in line with our mission. — COLUMBIA Magazine

Around the U.S. 

ACLU report: Wisconsin sheriffs are incentivized to cooperate with ICE:  Even in counties that publicly support immigrants, relationships between ICE and sheriff’s departments thrive and result in deportations. — ACLU Wisconsin

Attorney embroiled in immigration fraud scheme allegedly helped Dr. Oz buy Florida mansion:  Florida attorney Leslie Evans and four others were accused of luring foreign investment in a Palm Beach hotel with the promise of inclusion in the federal EB-5 visa program. — CBS News

Washington D.C.

Biden admin. announces new public charge regulations:  The rule eliminates potential barriers for immigrants who are dependent on public benefits and trying to obtain documented status. — CNN 

D.C. Mayor declares public emergency over buses of migrants sent from Texas and Arizona: Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the creation of a $10 million Office of Migrant Services. The city will seek reimbursement from the federal government. — Reuters

Steve Bannon, former Trump aide, charged with money laundering in border wall fundraising case: The New York state charges allege Bannon and three others defrauded donors when raising more than $15 million under the guise of building a border wall. — CNN

Family of Afghan aid worker killed in U.S. airstrike not yet in U.S., lawyer says: The Pentagon and the Biden administration vowed to compensate the family of Afghan aid worker Zemari Ahmadi, but they are still awaiting movement to the U.S. — NBC News

200 more migrants have died at the southern border this fiscal year over last: Deaths account to 748 already, with a month still left in the fiscal year. In fiscal year 2021, there were 557 southwest border deaths. These counts often miss several deaths. — CNN



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