Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Colorado Man Convicted of Trafficking Filipino Nurses

One of the common misconceptions about labor trafficking is that it only pertains to agriculture, restaurant work, or other low paying jobs. But anyone at any level can be labor trafficked; in fact, according to the US Trafficking in Persons report, skilled laborers such as engineers and nurses are at high risk of being trafficked as well.

One such example is the case in Colorado. Kizzy Kalu of Highland Ranch,Colorado was convicted of human trafficking on Monday. Of the 94 counts that Kalu was charged with, he was convicted of all but 6 of them.

Kalu posted an advertisement online and sent letters to Filipino nurses inviting them to obtain nursing degrees in the US at Adams University. Although he told them that they would be nursing instructors and receiving 72,000 a year, they were to apply for student visas. The reason he gave the nurses for this duplicity was although there are limits on how many visas the US hands out, there is no set limit on higher education student visas. The nurses paid around 6,500 to obtain a visa.

However, there was no such university as Adams University; the picture on the website was of a building of another Colorado University, and there was no such institution at the location that Kalu posted on the website. Furthermore, when the nurses arrived, Kalu had them work for nursing home and other extended care facilities, at significantly lower rates than he had promised. At first, Kalu was paid directly from the nursing homes and only gave a small portion to the nurses. However, when the government started asking questions about his income, Kalu had the nursing homes pay the nurses directly, from which Kalu would take a significant portion of their wages. The nurses were required to pay at least 1,200 a month to Kalu, or else he threatened to report them to the Department of Homeland Security for visa fraud. One nurse refused to pay Kalu, and was subsequently deported.

Jay Moskowitz, who owned one of the nursing home company who hired several of the women, was one of the companies that brought the case to the authorities' attention after the nurses told them that they were not receiving all of their wages from Kalu.

This case highlights the vast reaches of labor trafficking. Many misconceptions of labor trafficking are that 'It doesn't happen here' and 'it's only on farms and in factories'. But labor trafficking can come in many different forms.

Facts about Labor Trafficking

  • According to the US Trafficking in Person's Report
    • In 2012 there were 1,153 labor trafficking prosecutions and 518 convictions around the world
    • In North and South America there were 369 prosecutions and 107 convictions in 2012
  • Traffickers control their victims in many different ways
    • Recruitment Debt- traffickers charge their victims large fees for travel and visa expenses, and the victims are forced to work long hours with little pay to pay off their debts
    • Hold on to important documents such as visas or passports
    • Threaten to go to the authorities to have victims arrested and deported
  • There are many 'legal' recruitment agencies that participate in labor trafficking; as brokers are paid according to the amount of employees they recruit, they are often unethical or don't follow up after persons are placed

Jasmine Prokscha

1 comment: