Albania Awards Highest Honor to DS Agent Barry Hale For Distinguished Service

– By Domani Spero

This is kind of old news since this award occurred back on April 2013, but we have only recently learned that the Government of Albania had bestowed on Diplomatic Security Special Agent Barry Hale its Medal of Honor for distinguished service in support of the Albanian State Police.

The award is the highest honor that the Albanian government can confer upon a foreign official, and it also marks the first time that the Albanian government has so honored a U.S. Embassy employee.

During the April 23, 2013 presentation at the Ministry of the Interior in the capital of Tirana, Albanian Minister of the Interior Flamur Noka praised Special Agent Hale for his contribution to strengthening the professional capacity of the Albanian State Police as well as cooperation between U.S. and Albanian law enforcement agencies.

During his 2010 to 2013 tenure as the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Officer in Tirana, Special Agent Hale was responsible for managing security for U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities in Albania. During his assignment in Tirana, Special Agent Hale managed nine extraditions, including that of Hektor Kelmendi, named as one of five most-wanted human trafficking suspects by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Special Agent Hale joined the U.S. Department of State in 1999 as a special agent with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Diplomatic Security Service.  Prior to Special Agent Hales’ assignment in Tirana, he served in the Diplomatic Security Service offices in Denver and Los Angeles, and in the Regional Security Offices at U.S. embassies in Baghdad, Iraq and Bogotá, Columbia. He is currently serving in the Regional Security Office at Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan.

Read more here.

According to USDOJ, Hektor Kelmendi is one one of the various aliases used by Deme Nikqi, of Peje, Kosovo who was extradited to the United States from Albania in January 2012 to face charges related to his leadership of an international human smuggling network. ” The January 2012 indictment “allege that from at least January 2006 through February 2010, Nikqi was the leader and organizer of an international criminal network dedicated to smuggling Kosovars from the Balkans into the United States via Latin America. Nikqi, who resided in Brooklyn in the 1990s and was previously denied permanent residence status in the United States, allegedly operated this smuggling enterprise from his home in Peje, Kosovo. According to court documents, Nikqi and his co-conspirators are estimated to have smuggled hundreds of individuals across the Mexican border and into the United States each year. One of Nikqi’s smuggling operations allegedly resulted in the death of a Kosovar in Texas in 2010.”

* * *

Court Awards $3.3 Million Default Judgment Against State Dept Couple Accused of Slavery and Rape of Housekeeper

In 2011, Jane Doe, an Ethiopian national in her 30s filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against a State Department employee Linda Howard and her husband, Russell Howard, alleging involuntary servitude, forced labor and human trafficking in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA).

The complaint also alleges the rape of Jane Doe by Russell Howard, reportedly an Australian national, and a dependent of employee Linda Howard.

According to the complaint, Linda Howard met and hired Jane Doe during her assignment at the US Embassy in Yemen. Jane Doe was paid $200 a month as a housekeeper and made no allegation of mistreatment while employed in Yemen.  In late 2008, Linda Howard was reportedly reassigned to the US Embassy in Tokyo.  Jane Doe agreed to move to Japan with Linda Howard to continue working as a housekeeper.  Their signed contract reportedly guaranteed $300 a month, time off each week, health insurance and a safe place to live and work.

Among the other allegations made by Jane Doe:

  • She was forced to work more than 80 hours a week for less than a dollar an hour; the exact amount was $0.88 an hour; the minimum hourly wage at the time of Jane Doe’s employment was $6.55 an hour.
  • She was raped and was forced to engaged in sexual acts with Russell Howard in the Howards’ Tokyo residence.
  • She was threatened with deportation from Japan by Mr. Howard
  • The complaint says that after five months Jane Doe fled the Howards’ home and found help at a shelter in Tokyo. The women’s shelter reported the abuse to the US Embassy in Tokyo. While at the shelter Jane Doe met with Diplomatic Security investigators. When the case was filed in October 2011, it includes the following item: “Upon information and belief, the State Department’s investigation is still pending.”
  • At the time the lawsuit was filed, she alleged that while Linda Howard was removed from her posting at the US Embassy in Tokyo, Mrs. Howard remains employed by the State Department.

Some nasty, nasty stuff on this one, read the original complaint here.

The Courthouse News Service which reported this case on September 6 says that Linda Howard is currently an IT manager with the State Department in Washington, D.C.’s citing her profile on the professional-networking website LinkedIn. The profile notes that Howard worked as a “manager” for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from 2008 to 2009. Before that, Howard worked for three years, from 2005 – 2008 as “Senior IT Manager, Acting Administrative Management Officer, Acting Human Resources Officer and alternate Financial Officer” at the Embassy in Yemen, according to the profile

The report from LexisNexis® Mealey’s™ Legal News says that when Russell Howard, who is from Australia, failed to respond to Jane Doe’s complaint, and Linda Howard’s answer to the complaint was stricken pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b)(2)(A), Doe moved for default judgment, which Magistrate Judge Thomas Rawles Jones Jr. granted in an Aug. 7 report and recommendation.

… the judgment against Linda Howard was appropriate based on the four factors established in Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (269 F.3d 305, 348 [4th Cir. 2001]):  bad faith, amount of prejudice, need for deterrence and effectiveness of less drastic sanctions.
Linda Howard acted in bad faith by telling the court that she was unaware of any upcoming overseas job-related travel and then two weeks later retiring and leaving the country, the magistrate judge said.

“There is a great need to deter defendants from determining that the proper response to litigation is to leave the country and refuse to participate in the resolution of a dispute.  Finally, in light of Mrs. Howard’s flight from the country, it is clear that less drastic sanctions would not be effective.”

The Court awarded Jane Doe total damages in the amount of $3,306,468, broken down as follows.

  • $1,250,000 for compensatory emotional distress relating to forced sexual servitude


  • $44,500 in compensatory damages for forced labor and trafficking


  • $2,000,000 punitive damages “in light of the Howards’ intentional egregious and outrageous conduct”
  • $11,968 for back wages and liquidated award as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act damages under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)

The court documents relating to this case are available here to read (some documents listed need to be purchased before you can read them).  The Court’s opinion dated September 4, 2012 is here in pdf.



Photo of the Day: Stay Angry and Stay Young, Fight Human Trafficking

U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, David L. Carden, challenges youth to “stay angry and stay young” by fighting human trafficking at the USAID co-sponsored MTV EXIT concert in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Photo via USAID Vietnam/Fllickr

Click on image above for more photos.

According to the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, Vietnam, a tier 2 country, is a source and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and conditions of forced labor.  Vietnamese women and children subjected to sex trafficking throughout Asia are often misled by fraudulent labor opportunities and sold to brothels on the borders of Cambodia, China, and Laos, with some eventually sent to third countries, including Thailand and Malaysia. Some Vietnamese women are forced into prostitution in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and in Europe.
Domani Spero

Taiwanese Official in Kansas Charged for "Fraudulently Obtaining a Filipino Servant"

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston...Image via WikipediaVia DOJ:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a high-ranking representative of Taiwan was charged in federal court today with fraud in foreign labor contracting for fraudulently obtaining a Filipino servant for her residence.

Hsien-Hsien “Jacqueline” Liu, 64, of Taiwan, residing in Leawood, Kan., was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo. Liu is the director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office located in Kansas City, Mo. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office is part of the Taiwan organization responsible for maintaining close unofficial relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan. They are generally the equivalent of a consulate of a foreign government, but the United States does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.

Today’s criminal complaint alleges that Liu fraudulently obtained an employment contract with a Filipino housekeeper, whom Liu then brought to the United States to work for her on a B-1 visa. Liu allegedly paid her significantly less than the contractual amount and forced her to work excessive hours and perform tasks outside the terms of the contract.

According to an affidavit filed in support of today’s criminal complaint, Liu hired a woman (identified as “Female Victim” or “FV”) who was living in the Philippines in November 2010. Liu signed an employment contract, which was used to obtain a B-1 visa for the victim. The victim arrived in the United States on March 5, 2011, the affidavit says, and began working for Liu the next day.

Once in the United States, the affidavit says, Liu paid the Filipino worker $400-450 per month, although the employment contract stipulated a salary of $1,240 per month. Liu allegedly required the victim to work six days a week, 16 to 18 hours a day, and forbid her to leave the house without permission. Under the terms of her employment contract, the affidavit says, she was to work no more than eight hours a day, 40 hours per week, and her presence was not required inside the residence except during working hours.

Liu took the victim’s passport and visa and would not return them, according to the affidavit. Liu allegedly told the victim that she was friends with local law enforcement and well known in the community, and threatened her with deportation. Liu monitored the victim from a video surveillance cameras she had installed inside her residence, the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, Liu was verbally abusive to the victim and had her conduct additional manual labor and personal services for Liu.

During a trip to the grocery store, the affidavit says, the victim located a Filipino inside the store and sought his help. The victim told him that she was trapped, and being underpaid and mistreated. He communicated with her at church, the affidavit says, but eventually Liu required that she work on Sundays so she was not able to attend. On Aug. 10, 2011, he helped the victim escape from Liu’s residence.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this complaint are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.

FocusTaiwan reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) lodged a strong protest “over the U.S. detention of a Taiwanese diplomat and demanded she be immediately released unconditionally.”  In the report, Foreign Affairs Minister Timothy Yang cited a 1980 agreement on privileges and immunities signed between Taiwan and the U.S. for Liu’s immunity.

“Before Taiwan forsakes immunity, U.S. law enforcement authorities cannot treat ROC diplomatic personnel that way,” Yang said.

He stressed that Liu still enjoyed immunity privileges under the pact, and said that even if U.S. law enforcement authorities have a case, they should still follow diplomatic channels and not “violate or ignore the agreement.”
Bruce J. D. Linghu, director of the MOFA’s Department of North American Affairs, called the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy here in the absence of diplomatic ties, and Deputy Foreign Minister Lyushun Shen called in acting AIT Director Eric Madison to express strong protests.

Focus Taiwan had a follow up report yesterday quoting Premier Wu Den-yih saying that “the recent detention of a Taiwanese diplomat in the U.S. city of
Kansas is irrelevant to Washington’s policy on Taiwan.”
The premier according to the report, also “urged Liu to be honest so that the ministry can get a full understanding of the situation.”

This case appears to be widely covered by Taiwanese media. Taiwan News posted what it says is a written response from the State Department on the issue of immunity:

In a written response to the inquiry about the U.S. stance on the
issue, the State Department spokesman said that under the 1980
agreement, Liu enjoys a status similar to that of consular officers.

“She has immunity only for acts performed within the scope of her authorized functions,” the spokeman wrote.


New Border War: Corruption of U.S. Officials by Drug Cartels

The Senate Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration held a hearing on Thursday, March 11, 2010 on the New Border War: Corruption of US Officials by Drug Cartels.

The stated purpose of the hearing was to review the efforts by drug trade organizations (DTOs) to infiltrate and corrupt federal, state, and local law enforcement in order to improve their ability to counter U.S. border control measures. The hearing established the scope and nature of resulting corruption in federal, state and local governments, where the problem is most prevalent, and the strategy and methods being employed by DTOs. The hearing also provided an opportunity for witnesses to outline efforts to combat this problem, including new or proposed programs and policies relating to the prevention of DTO-related corruption in our nation’s law enforcement and political entities.

Representatives from the FBI, DHS’s OIG and Internal Affairs of Customs and Border Protection provided some interesting insights. To read the full testimonies, click on the hyperlinks “view testimony” below.  Quick excerpts:

Kevin L. Perkins [view testimony]
Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice

Each day, the federal government is charged with protecting over 7,000 miles of land bordering Canada and Mexico, 95,000 miles of U.S. shoreline and over 300 ports of entry across the United States. Each of these entry points has the potential for criminal and/or terrorist organizations to exploit corrupt officials willing to misuse their official positions for financial and/or personal gain.
One particular case highlights the potential national security implications of public corruption along our nation’s borders. In that case, an individual gained employment as a border inspector for the specific purpose of trafficking in drugs. Through our collaborative efforts and a year-long investigation, this former public official pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to import more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana into the United States and received more than $5 Million in bribe payments. This individual has since been sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Thomas Frost
[view testimony]
Assistant Inspector General for Investigations
Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Border related corruption is not limited to one DHS component, but, unfortunately, could involve employees and contractors from across DHS, from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and others.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) received about 12,458 allegations of fraud and initiated over 1,085 investigations. Our investigations resulted in 313 arrests, 293 indictments, 281 convictions and 59 administrative actions. Additionally, we reported over $85.7 million in fines, restitutions and administrative cost savings and recoveries.
Specific to employee corruption on the border, since 2003, we have made 129 arrests of corrupt Customs and Border Protection Officers and Border Patrol Agents. In FY 2009, we opened 839 allegations involving DHS employees:                        
  • 576 CBP
  • 64 CIS 
  • 35 TSA
  • 164 ICE
Without discounting the excellent work of our own agents, much of our success is due to our collaboration with law enforcement partners.
James F. Tomsheck [view testimony]
Assistant Commissioner, Office of Internal Affairs
Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
CBP is the largest uniformed federal law enforcement agency in the country, with over 20,000 Border Patrol Agents operating between the ports of entry and more than 20,000 CBP officers stationed at air, land, and sea ports nationwide. These forces are supplemented with more than 1,100 Air and Marine agents and 2,300 agricultural specialists and other professionals. In FY 2009 alone, CBP processed more than 360 million pedestrians and passengers, 109 million conveyances, apprehended over 556,000 illegal aliens between our ports of entry, encountered over 224,000 inadmissible aliens at the ports of entry, and seized more than 5.2 million pounds of illegal drugs. Every day, CBP processes over one million travelers seeking to enter the United States by land, air or sea.
While the overwhelming majority of CBP agents and officers demonstrate the highest levels of integrity and perform their duties with honor and distinction every day, isolated acts of corruption do occur. Corruption by these individuals tarnishes the CBP badge and reputation, brings dishonor to our service and, most importantly, jeopardizes our border security.
There is a concerted effort on the part of transnational criminal organizations to infiltrate CBP through hiring initiatives and compromise our existing agents and officers. Since Oct. 1, 2004, 103 CBP law enforcement officers have been arrested or indicted on mission-critical corruption charges, including drug smuggling, alien smuggling, money laundering and conspiracy.

Global Operation, the DSS Web Series — Still Coming

Sit back and relax, the commercial is still on…

Global Operation, the DSS series that’s coming to the web missed its February release target.  I am told that the pilot episode is running a week late. So we’ll stay in the lookout for that.  The creators told me they got some bad emails and some supportive emails since I wrote about it. The episode has not been released yet, so I’ll wait until I see it before I write them a complaint.   

That said, there are a few items that would probably bug watchers about this forthcoming show. The Bureau’s HQ and center of the universe is in Washington, D.C. not the Field Office in LA. Still, the creator/producer who has zero budget lives and works in LA. So…that’s the main reason, money or the lack thereof. Perfectly understandable.           
Female agents are a minority in the Diplomatic Security Service. Note that the photos in this gallery, you can only find one single female agent.  If you know how many female agents are there in the 1500+ DSS agents, we’d love to know.   All DSS agents that you see especially those on protective detail are in sober dark suits, with dark sunglasses, a gold pin on their lapels, and a communication wire connected to their ears.  That’s the look, see them here. Those assigned overseas, observe a different dress code.    
There is a unique function that DSS actually does – apprehension of fugitives overseas.  Wouldn’t that be fun as a reality show? Fugitives may even want to get caught, just to get on tee-vee, did you consider that?  We can start filming in Belize.   
But seriously, in the United States, the Bureau protects the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and foreign dignitaries below the head-of-state level who visit the United States. DS develops and implements security programs to protect the more than 100 domestic State Department facilities as well as the residence of the Secretary of State.  DS also conducts criminal investigations into passport and visa fraud violations, conducts personnel security investigations, and issues security clearances (how sexy is that?). You will notice, of course, what is glaringly absent from this – investigating human trafficking. If DS is involved at all, I doubt if they take the lead over the FBI and ICE inside the United States. In fact, this TV movie on human trafficking makes special mention of ICE.
On guns, DSS Special Agents are law enforcement officials and are indeed authorized to carry guns.  Technical Security Specialists, however, are support personnel. I have never seen one with a gun. I don’t even know that they’re authorized to carry one since they’re kind of like — the geeks on call when it comes to security technical stuff – CCTVs, security gates, etc.         
Even with those shortcomings I admit I have empathy for the makers of this series.  Can you imagine if you’re in your 30’s or 40’s trying to break into Hollywood where youth and looks are the top currency? So they get points in my book for seeking out their own opportunity.  I also belong to the congregation of “if you build it, they will come,” (remember Kevin Costner and the Iowa cornfields? I know, I know).  Put it another way, if you film it, they will watch it. See? I’m a “glass is full” kind of person. Sometimes.
I imagine that the response to this series will be divided into large two camps. The purists who would like to see DSS depicted in the most authentic manner and in the best light possible (think NCIS with Mark Harmon, the CIA with Harrison Ford, etc. etc.). I can understand that; I would like to see DSS with Mark Harmon, too. I’d even volunteer to be investigated.  Tee-hee! But he’s tied up with NCIS. And the only folks who are interested on making a web movie about DSS right now happen to be these independent actors with no money. Perhaps DS can offer a public affairs consultant for free as part of its public outreach?
The other camp, of course, is the non-purists who think that #1, this is entertainment, and #2, any press is good press.
Okay, hit #3 for let’s sit back and relax; the commercial is still on.


Global Operation – DSS Series Coming Soon to a Web Near You

“the most compelling, hard-hitting crime/drama on the web”
I got a heads up on this new series over the weekend.  This is what its website says — — “The hard-hitting and emotional web series centers around the incomprehensible crime that should not be a part of the 21st century, human trafficking, and the elite U.S Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents of the Los Angeles Field Office who take the lead in combating these transnational crimes.”

Brief summary posted on its website, Global Operation:
Diplomatic Security Service, (DSS) Special Agent Samantha Morgan, a former army soldier, is a tough agent highly skilled at her job.  She heads the field office in Los Angeles and is responsible for the safety, welfare, and professional development of nearly 100 special agents every two years.  Having trained well over 1000 agents in the course of her career thus far.  Morgan believes, each individual has a reason for being in law enforcement; a personal tragedy, a passion for a cause, personal angst that runs deep and drives them to a career in law enforcement; truth and justice. With the assistance of the lead investigation detail Special Agent Varga, Morgan uses this information to hand  pick a team that will work around the clock to combat this incomprehensible crime that she says, should not be part of the 21st century.  In recent years, the United States has made human trafficking a priority.  An estimated 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the U.S. each year, a crime Morgan says, that will put hate in your heart.
These DSS agents are the backbone of investigative mission, conducting criminal, counterterrorism, and background investigations.  When they’re not investigating and apprehending criminals and terrorist, they are the agency identified to accept high threat protection assignments around the globe.  The majority of its Special Agents are members of the Foreign Service and federal law enforcement agents at the same time, making them unique.

The web series accept sponsorships ranging from $100 – $5,000 (Executive Producer Credit/ Full page ad). It also accepts product placements and brand ads from $2,000 to $10,000 to have a company written into the episode or the series. And if you want exposure (and have $3,000), you can also become a co-star of Global Operation.

The production is operating out of Los Angeles with zero budget; thus, the need for sponsorships and ads.  The creator/producer has indicated an interest in collaborating with filmmakers in DC to shoot scenes there that can be incorporated into the series. If you have an interest in film-making, here is your chance.

The GO website says that 10% of all funds raised go into GO’s non-profit of choice, International Justice Mission, a human rights group based in WashDC that “secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.”
Two teasers/trailers have been posted online but no full episode is available for viewing at this time. I must say I love that intro music! The series creator told me that they are currently busy with post production and pre-production for episode #2 and that the pilot will have its online debut at the end of this month. 
This should be exciting, right?  I could not recall a series on TV or the web that centered on DSS. I feel old but my recollection only goes back a couple of decades and may not be accurate.  There was that one season show on TV some years back, I can’t remember the name, but that was about a junior diplomat in London, wasn’t it?. This might be a first for DSS; do correct me if I’m wrong.

In any case, we are hoping to post the pilot episode here as soon as it’s released. Stay tuned! 

Colombia: New Barracks Construction Awarded

Aerial view of San José del GuaviareImage via Wikipedia

The State Department had just awarded a new contact for the construction of barracks in Colombia to Carlos Gaviria Y Asociados S.A., a company based in Bogotá.

The project under U.S. Embassy Bogotá’s Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) consists of the construction of a barracks/housing unit with kitchen, laundry, dining room and living room area, 1110 square meter unit constructed in masonry and concrete. The structure will be one story capable of lodging 120 people (maximum) on bunk beds distributed in 20 separate rooms with restrooms. The project includes, site works, reinforced concrete structure, masonry, plaster and paint, metallic roofing, water and sewer installations, electrical and gas networks.

Place of performance is at Joaquin Paris Military Base, located in San Jose del Guaviare, Guaviare, Colombia. It is located at the southwest part of the country in the Amazonia jungle region. It is located 340 Km from Bogota, the capital city of Colombia, and can be accessed through domestic airlines, river and an under construction road. The average temperature range is between 21 and 32 C and 55 percent humidity. It is considered to be a high risk and hostile region.

The estimated construction cost for this project is between $400 and $700 thousand dollars. The actual contract awarded in dollar amount according to
FedBiz is $727,142.92. See the solicitation statement: SWHARC09R0008.doc (741.50 Kb)

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Quickie: Human Trafficking in America

Zambia, human trafficking posterImage by mvcorks via Flickr

For six months Kansas City Star reporters traveled the world, from Guatemalan migrant shelters to the deadly streets of Tijuana, investigating America’s war against human trafficking.

They found that America is losing the battle — even in its own backyard. In fact, Kansas City is an emerging hub of human trafficking activity.

Economic opportunity in the U.S. draws human trafficking victims from all over the world. Estimates on the number of victims have varied from 17,500 a year now to 50,000 annually earlier this decade; nobody really knows. International victims are smuggled across borders or can enter legally and fall into slavery. See the Trafficking Primer here (PDF)

This week the Kansas City Star is running a 5-part series on human trafficking in America. Click here to access days four & five (links have not been updated as of this writing):

Day One: A new slavery

Beckoned by the land of the free, immigrants wind up being held against their will for labor, sex and money.

Day Two: Snares of the sex trade

International sex trafficking is more complex and problematic than the U.S. law designed to combat it. Meanwhile, domestic victims are getting scant attention.

Day Three: Fraud’s welcome mat

America’s intricate, fraud-plagued work visa program is a welcome mat for modern-day slavers.

Day Four: Coming Wednesday – No questions asked

Some suspected victims, in violation of U.S. policy, are being deported on government-run airlines based in Kansas City.

Day Five: Coming Thursday – No easy fixes

A new approach is needed, and changes are coming.

Click here to read the entire series.

Human Trafficking Right in a US Neighborhood

Wisconsin MDs Forced Woman to Work as Domestic Servant for 19 Years

The State Department has just released its 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report on 175 nations. It is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons. The stories are deplorable, the numbers are staggering:

Victims of Trafficking

(UN International Labor Organization Estimates)

  • 12.3 million adults and children at any time, in forced labor and sexual servitude
  • 1.39 million victims of sex trafficking, both national and transnational
  • 56% of forced labor victims are women and girls

State says that “The past year, marked by the onset of a global financial crisis, has raised the specter of increased human trafficking around the world. Two concurrent trends – a shrinking global demand for labor and a growing supply of workers willing to take ever greater risks for economic opportunities – seem a recipe for greater forced labor of migrant workers and commercial sexual exploitation of women in prostitution.”

In some places of the world, people have been living a life of daily economic crisis for years that working overseas, despite the risks, would seem like winning the “lottery.”

Earlier this month, DOJ reported that Jefferson Calimlim Sr. and his wife, Elnora Calimlim, both medical doctors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin were each re-sentenced to 72 months in prison for forcing a woman, Erma Martinez, to work as their domestic servant and illegally harboring her for 19 years in their Brookfield, Wisconsin residence.

According to evidence presented at trial, Jefferson Calimlim Sr. and his wife recruited and brought the victim from the Philippines to the U.S. in 1985 when she was 19 years old. In September 2004, federal law enforcement officers responding to a tip removed the victim, then age 38, from the Calimlim’s residence through the execution of a federal search warrant. The victim testified that for 19 years she was hidden in the Calimlim’s home, forbidden from going outside and told that she would be arrested, imprisoned and deported if she was discovered.

Almost 20 years of one’s life gone – just like that.

If you read the victim’s story here, you may find that she was a victim twice over; victimized first by her employers in the United States, and second by the relatives in her home country who depended on her for everything. There is judicial remedy for the first; there is none for the second.

Her salary paid for the education of all her younger siblings, from costumes in the Christmas pageants to college computer programs. The dutiful daughter paid for her father’s blood pressure medicine and her mother’s tumor operation and for plots of land. She paid for a water buffalo to pull a plow on the farm, and later a Honda tractor. Martinez’s mother gave her choices about where her money went: Did she want her brothers studying to be police officers or nurses? Did she want to buy dresses for her nieces for Christmas? And almost every letter came with a request for more.“Your father, Glen and Nonoy Kee are also asking that you buy them a watch and a set of necklace, ring and earrings for me. My earrings have lost its shine and some of the stones have come off.”

According to the 2009 TIP Report, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) certified 286 foreign adult victims in FY 2008, and issued eligibility letters to 31 foreign minors. Forty-five percent of the 286 certified adult trafficking victims were male, a notable increase from the 30 percent adult male trafficking victims certified in FY 2007 and the six percent adult male trafficking victims certified in FY 2006. Certified victims came from 40 countries. Primary countries of origin were Mexico (66), Thailand (56), Philippines (46), Korea (12), and China (8). Certification and Eligibility Letters allow human trafficking survivors to access services and benefits, comparable to assistance provided by the United States to refugees.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides two principal types of immigration relief authorized by the TVPA: (1) continued presence (CP) to human trafficking victims who are potential witnesses during investigation or prosecution, and (2) T non-immigrant status or “T-visas,” a special self-petitioned visa category for trafficking victims. In FY 2008, DHS/ICE’s Law Enforcement Parole Branch approved 225 requests for CP and 101 requests for extensions of existing CPs. DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued 247 T-visas to foreign survivors of human trafficking identified in the United States and 171 T-visas to their immediate family members. As part of the assistance provided under the TVPA, the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration funds the Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification Program for Victims of Trafficking. In calendar year 2008, the program assisted 105 cases. Of these cases, two trafficking victims elected to return to their country of origin, and 103 family members were reunited with trafficking survivors in the United States. Since its inception in 2005, the program has assisted around 250 people from 35 countries.