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Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Immigration Authorities Release Filipina Human-Trafficking Victim From Detention
Immigration Authorities Release Filipina Human-Trafficking Victim From Detention PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - MiscellaNEWS
Friday, 25 February 2011 09:18

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

   

C HICAGO (jGLi) – A Filipina from the Mountain Province in the Philippines hired to work as a teacher in the United States by a recruiter whose contracted company let her go after only a month on the job was released from immigration detention after a group of her kababayans (province mates) pooled $1,600 for her bond and secured and an additional $10,000 collateral bond.

 

The 45-year-old Melinda Suarez (real name withheld) was given temporary freedom from detention at the Rappahanouck Regional Jail in Virginia on the wee hours of Tuesday (Feb. 22) with the help of the Washington, D.C.-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), which is currently handling her case for free as an apparent victim of human trafficking.

 

Ms. Suarez is due back in court on Thursday (Feb. 24) for the next hearing of her case in Virginia.

 

“She vowed to fight for her deportation proceedings before the immigration court,” according to MHC Executive Director Arnedo S. Valera.

 

The MHC is now extending pro-bono legal assistance to Melinda by representing her in immigration court proceedings to fight her removal from the United States.

 

According to an article written by Marivic R. Montebon, managing editor of MH Chronicle News Flash, “charges are also being readied against the illegal recruiter. The Philippines has been listed by the United Nations as the second most notorious country in terms of labor trafficking.”

 

Ms. Grace Valera-Jaramillo, co-executive director of MHC, thanked the BIMAK and Benguet 13 organizations who spearheaded the fund raising for Melinda’s bond of $1600 and another $10,000 collateral bond which was posted by an MHC envoy for unity and service.


"Our migrant community is very much alive and united in this case. Their show of concern to a fellow Filipino migrant is what 'living a life that matters' is all about," Ms. Valera-Jaramillo said.

 

Jesse Gatchalian, also co-executive director of MHC, added that, "we need more community involvement and volunteerism in providing services to the immigrant community especially the legal services. We have seen how a united community works for the release of Ms. Suarez."

 

A ttorney Valera, MHC’s lead counsel and UN Representative on Migration, Global Peace, and Security under the auspices of the Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN), said this will be a “long legal fight to realize her dream to stay in the US.”

 

A teacher from the Mountain Province, Melinda is one of the thousands who are illegally trafficked for employment. She arrived in the US on H1B visa in 2007 and taught at one of the schools in New Mexico. The school that was supposed to hire her dismissed her right away, after just a month of work, without stating any official reason.

 

In search of greener pastures abroad, Melinda has unfortunately become a victim of labor trafficking and illegal recruitment by an agency that does not actually have a ready job for her in the US.

 

Thousands of Filipino teachers suffered the same fate as Melinda. Others have decided to return home, while the others chose to stay put and work out on their immigration status.

 

To survive in the US, Melinda worked at different assisted-living houses. From New Mexico, she moved to Northern Virginia and at one time, also stayed in Maryland.

 

"I am very thankful to our Fil-Am community for my temporary release. Thank you MHC for believing in my human rights as a migrant in this country," she said.

 

MHC executive directors Arnedo Valera, Jesse Gatchalian, and Grace Valera-Jaramillo personally went to her detention facility to pick her up after posting a bail of $1600, which the Filipino-American communities in Virginia helped raise.

 

"I am very hopeful that you will be able to help more immigrants in the same predicament as mine," a teary-eyed Melinda told the MHC director. # # #

  

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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Last Updated on Friday, 25 February 2011 09:20
 

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