Human Trafficking Indictment Suggests Shift on Immigration Policy « The Washington Independent
The indictment yesterday of three Kansas City area employment firms that allegedly smuggled foreign workers into the country to work illegally as “modern-day slaves” suggests the Obama administration is following up on its promise to shift the focus of immigration enforcement to employers most intent on violating the law.
The enormous human trafficking ring allegedly lured hundreds of foreign workers into the United States illegally to work for less than minimum wage and live in substandard conditions, reports The Kansas City Star.
The employment agencies then farmed out the workers to construction companies and hotels, resorts and casinos in 14 different states, according to the indictment. The workers were not only stripped of most of their wages, but forced to pay huge fees to the employment firm, making it impossible for them to leave or buy a ticket to fly home.
“The indictment alleges that this criminal enterprise lured victims to the United States under the guise of legitimate jobs and a better life, only to treat them as modern-day slaves under the threat of deportation,” said James Gibbons, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a written statement.
Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano vowed to shift the focus away from undocumented employees caught during workplace raids to the employers that knowingly hire and abuse illegal workers. But because the Department of Homeland Security still has authority to arrest and deport the workers, the promise elicited some skepticism.
Yesterday’s indictment suggests that Napolitano may be keeping her word.