Friday, May 20, 2011

Personal Stories of Trafficked Persons and the Attorneys Who Serve Them

Following on yesterday's post (which showed up on the blog as a few days ago, for some strange reason) about one immigration attorney's representation of a victim of trafficking...

To inform others about the abuse that trafficking victims suffer, Immigration attorney Brandmiller forwarded this translated account from her client:

I was nineteen years old when US immigration officials discovered me in the trunk of a car at a random immigration stop in Hidalgo, Texas. And I thank God that they found me because if they had not rescued me, I am sure that I would be dead by now. I had suffered for three long months at the hands of brutal men and women who used me for sex and tortured me for fun.

Three months before, at a train station in Mexico, a woman had approached me and said she could make arrangements for me to get a job in the US, so I went with her. After a few weeks, three men came to the house, and I heard the woman say, “I have one for you,” and I saw them give her money for me. I tried to ask who they were and where they were taking me but they hit me and told me to just shut up and do what I was told.

They drove me to a house out in the country with nothing else around. They took all my identification documents from me, and they locked me in a room. For the next three months, I was repeatedly sold for sex, beaten, threatened, drugged and starved.

One night several of the men took me outside to a car and locked me in the trunk. I was scared and it was difficult to breath. I was in that trunk until the next day driving to Hidalgo. Immigration officials stopped the car in the US, and finally, someone found me in the trunk.

They could see I was hurt, bruised and with bite marks all over my body, but they took me to immigration detention. After I had been detained for nearly six months, Sophia, another inmate in Pearsall, called the Catholic Charities Immigration Department in San Antonio. Linda, the Director of Immigration, came to see me.

That was two years ago. Last month, Linda called me with the news that the government recognized that I was a trafficking victim. I was so relieved and we both cried. Now, I want to be a voice for other trafficking victims who do not understand this system, who do not find Linda or someone like her who will fight for them, especially when the experts turn them down and do not believe they meet the requirements to be considered a trafficking victim. There are many, many victims like me out there, and they all need help.

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