IMMIGRATION ADVOCATES TO HELP TRAFFICKED TEACHERS GET VISAS

-By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

LONG BEACH, California – Filipino Americans are hoping to be the solution to one of California’s most rampant immigration-related problems.

The State Attorney General has found that there are at least 1,800 human trafficking cases in California, and most of them deal with forced labor.

Migrante International, a network of Filipino immigrant advocates, launched its Southern California chapter through The Filipino Migrant Center which has been advocating for several groups of alleged victims of human trafficking by helping them find legal help, as well as access to social services.

“There are a lot of people who are marginalized, who don’t have access to fair jobs, labor practices, and that’s what Migrante Southern California is here to do, to fight for the rights and welfare of Filipino workers,” said Migrante’s Alex Montances.

One of Migrante’s first cases is the filing of trafficking visas for a group of Filipino teachers.

The teachers, who first surfaced in March of 2011, claim that as early as 2007, over 30 teachers paid as much as $10,000 each in recruitment fees to West Coast Staffing. However, the jobs at Southern California schools did not exist, and they eventually overstayed their work visas.

“Out of the 35, we’re working with 6 teachers right now. And they’re getting ready to file for their T-Visas by the end of this year so hopefully by early next they’ll be able to get their status back and begin working again,” said Joanna Concepcion.

The teachers, many who now work as caregivers, have filed reports with the US Labor department and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

No other potential victims have come out, while the alleged trafficker is still yet to be found.

Contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com.

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