In part four of a five part series dated Wednesday December 16, 2009 the KC Star provides what they contend is evidence that victims of human trafficking are deported because they are not properly screened. To make their case they provide the story of Guatamalan illegal alien immigrant Valle-Callejas’.
Taken from the Kansas City Star Valle-Callejas journey: Advocates for detainees rounded up in the 2008 workplace raid in Postville said a lack of proper screening by ICE also led to the deportation of potential human trafficking victims.
This included Valle-Callejas who was deported on one of the flights to Guatemala City.
With his family gathered around in his impoverished village of Calderas, Valle-Callejas told the story of his ill-fated trek to America.
After putting his home up for a loan to smugglers, he was shuttled across the U.S. border illegally and traveled north looking for work. He said he ended up in a job where his illegal status was held over his head.
“I worked 86 hours a week and never got paid for more than 60,” he recalled. “If we complained, they would take the job away, and this was the only job available.”
After his arrest U.S. authorities gave Valle-Callejas and the others a choice. Plead guilty to illegal entry and identity theft and spend five month in prison before being deported, or plead not guilty and face up to two years in prison.
Valle-Callejas and most of the others took the deal.
While Valle-Callejas was in jail he lost his house in Guatemala, and now he and his family are homeless.
“I come back feeling desolate for the way they treated us,” he said.
Were they human trafficking victims as their advocates insists? No one knows, because they allegedly were never properly screened.
When I first saw the article and read “human trafficking victim” my first thought was young girls or women who are forced to be sex slaves. My next thought was someone who was kidnapped and forced to work for little or no pay. But as I read the article the following glaring contradictions stood out.
- “After putting his home up for a loan to smugglers”. This requires, what is known in legal jargon as “forethought”. He uses his home to pay smugglers to illegally take him across the border. The fact he is paying smugglers means he knows it is illegal. He is not kidnapped. He is not forced into a human trafficking, rather he goes voluntarily. He is not a victim.
- “He was shuttled across the border illegally”. The KS Star words this in such a way as to imply that the illegal entry was done by someone else outside Valle-Callejas’ control. But it was he, himself who initiated the illegal act. How else did he think he was going to get into the U.S.? He wasn’t forcibly shuttled illegally. He voluntarily paid to illegally cross the boarder. Absent his willing payment he would not have crossed illegally. Thus, he committed the crime himself. The sentence should have been worded, "he illegally paid smugglers to help him illegally cross the boarder to illegally gain employment."
- He claims he was only paid for 60 hours when he often worked 86 hours. Let me first say one of the reasons I oppose illegal immigration is because of the potential for the exploitation of workers. Everyone should be fairly compensated for their work. If he was not properly compensated, he should receive what is owed to him. However, compared to the compensation in Guatemala, this does not rise to the level of human trafficking victim. So the claim that he was exploited, rings hallow.
- Even with the bad conditions he had to keep the job because it was the only one available. And why was that? Because he chose, planned and paid to enter the U.S. illegally. As an illegal alien he did not have a valid SS#. As a result of his illegal act he could only work for those who were willing to also commit a crime by hiring him. His own illegal actions placed him in that position so he has no one to blame but himself.
- “While in jail he lost his house in Guatemala and now he and his family are homeless”. This should read, “as a consequence of conspiring to illegally enter a sovereign nation and thereby commit an illegal act, he had to sell his home to smugglers, and as a result, lost his home and he and his family are homeless as a result of this illegal act". It was not “his time in jail” that caused him to loose his home. Rather, it was the act of putting his home up as collateral to do an illegal act that was the cause.
- “He was devastated by the way he was treated.” He was treated as a criminal because he committed an illegal act. This is what separates the U.S. from many other nations. We are a Nation of Laws. If he was devastated by how he was treated it is not because he was wrongly treated but because he does not understand that we are a nation of laws and there are consquences for illegal acts such as his.
- Finally the KC Star article asks, “Were they human trafficking victims as their advocates insists? No one knows, because they allegedly were never properly screened.” Here I will assist the logically challenged KC Star staff. If you put your home up for collateral to persons who you conspire with to do an illegal act and in the process loose the employment you gained through that illegal act and your home as well, you are not a human trafficking victim. Rather, you are a criminal. So no amount of screening for human trafficking victims would have altered those facts.
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