| Tuesday, June 20, 2006
| SAD NEWS FOR THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY IN THE U.S. OF A
|COUPLE CONVICTED OF HARBORING MAID
They face up to 45 years in prison, deportation.
A wealthy Brookfield couple face up to 45 years in prison, forfeiture of their home and deportation to their native Philippines after being the first convicted in eastern Wisconsin of imposing forced labor on an illegal immigrant they harbored as a maid for 19 years.
A federal jury deliberated seven hours before finding Jefferson N. and Elnora Calimlim guilty of all immigration charges filed against them, including what a prosecutor said may be the nation's first forced labor conviction not involving use of violence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Johnson hailed the convictions as a victory for protecting the civil rights of all people and preventing human trafficking.
"Holding somebody in involuntary servitude goes against the very nature and foundation of the United States." Johnson said in an interview. "The Department of Justice is dedicated to preserving people's rights, regardless of their status in life."
Defense attorneys immediately vowed to appeal, saying the case was rife with issues because the forced labor charged was enacted in 2000 and largely untested in courts.
Prosecutors contended in trial that the Calimlims exploited and manipulated an uneducated womam from an impoverised family into thinking she had no choice but to work for them for long hours with minimal pay under harsh restrictions or face deportation.
Defense attorneys acknowledged that the family went to great lengths to keep her hidden in the home, but said that was done to protect her, not coerse her. They said the woman, Irma Martinez,agreed to the rules because she wanted to work for them rather than live in the Philippines.
The Calimlims' son Jefferson M. Calimlim, 31, was found guilty of one felony for harboring an illegal immigrant but acquitted of two other charges. He faces a maximum five-year term when he and his parents are sentenced Sept. 15.
The parents each were convicted of harboring an illegal immigrant for financial gain, conspiracy to harbor an illegal immigrant, forced labor and attempted forced labor.
Because they are legal, permanent residents of the United States but citizens of the Philippines, the parents face "practically inevitable" deportation, Johnson told Chief Judge Rudolph T. Randa as she argued that the couple be jailed pending sentencing.
Deportation will be decided not by the judge but by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, Johnson said.
Johnson argued that the couple are a high flight risk because of their wealth and family connections to the Philippines, given substantial prison time they faced.
She said they would be unable to fathom changing from "Living from a life of priviledge to living in a 10-by-13 cell".
The husband is a practicing ear, nose and throat doctor, his wife is a licensed physician who stopped working in 1982.
Defense attorneys Tom Brown and Michael Fitzgerald objected to immediate incarceration, saying the two were professionals who would not want to be separated from their three U.S. born children or the husband's medical practice.
GOVERNMENT HOLDS PASSPORTS
Randa declined to jail the couple but said the government will continue to hold their passports.
The family declined to comment, as did Brown and Fitzgerald. Martinez, who is living in Chicago with federal assistance, was not in court when the verdicts were delivered.
Defense attorney Rodney Cubbie, representing the Calimlims' son, argued that his client should never have been charged. He was not involved in hiring, paying or setting the terms of Martinez's employment, which began when he was 11.
After graduating from college, Jeff Jr., was living at home when agents raided the family's 8,600-square-foot home on Still Point Trail in September 2004 - acting on a tip from the estranged wife of another son, Jack Calimlim.
During the raid, Jeff Jr. lied to an FBI agent who qucikly questioned the son as he was sitting on a bathroom toilet. The son said he had'nt seen the maid in about a year, but the father showed agents where she was hiding in her basement bedroom closet. The jury acquitted the son of lying to the agent.
The eight day trial included testimony from the maid and her parents, whom the federal government had flown to the United States and who lived in Chicago in preparation for the trial.
Defense attorneys focused their attacks on the forced labor charges, acknowledged that the couple did knowingly harbor an illegal immigrant.
They argued, however, that it was not done for financial gain - a required element of the crime. They said the couple, who live in a US$ 1.2 million suburban Milwaukee home with tennis courts and a four-car garage, were not motivated by obtaining cheap labor as the prosecution contended.
They said the family was driven by their Filipino culture.
The couple were raised in well-off families, with the family trees dominated by generations of doctors and nurses. Elnora Calimlim said she and her siblings each had their own nanny growing up and she was very close to her nanny, confiding in her like a mother.
Elnora's father, a physician, was the one who found Irma Martinez and made arrangements for her to be his daughter's housekeeper and help raise his grandchildren.
Susan French, a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights division in Washington, DC, told jurors that the Calimlim's stance that they wanted to help, not exploit, an impoverished Filipino woman, was "bogus" and "preposterous".
If they wanted to help her and her family, why didn't they pay her a U.S. minimum wage? French asked.
Elnora Calimlim testified that Irma Martinez was paid US$1,800 a year for the first 10 years and US$ 4,800 a year thereafter.
Brown said those wages, while "peanuts" in the U.S., were worth much more in pesos to the Martinez family. With the wages, they bought a sturdier home, land to farm, farming tools, medicine and education for their children.
(Source: JOURNAL SENTINEL by Lisa Sink Isink@journalsentinel.com)
WOMAN ENSLAVED BY PHYSICIANS FOR ALMOST TWO DECADES
A Broofield, Wisconsin couple and their son, who kept a domestic servant in their home under slave-like conditions for close to two decades, were convited last Friday on human trafficking charges.
A Federal jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts against three members of the wealthy family for human trafficking, Jefferson Sr. and Elnora Calimlim, both physicians in Milwaukee, were charged with using threats of serious harm and physical restraint to coerce a 40-year old Filipino woman to serve as their domestic servant for almost 20 years.
The indictment also charged the couple and their son, Jefferson Jr., with alien harboring for financial gain. Jefferson Calimlim, Jr. was also charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
At trial, the government proved that from 1985 through Sept. 29, 2004, the defendants employed a female Filipino national as a domestic worker who was responsible for caring for the Calimlim children, cleaning the house and preparing the family meals. The Filipino woman lived at the Calimlim residence and was promised a salary that would be "kept in an account".
She was working to send money home to her family in the Philippines. However, she did not have access to the account or know its whereabouts. For 19 years, Jefferson Sr. and Elnora Calimlim coerced the victim to work long hours, seven days a week as their domestic servant for little money.
The Calimlims threatened the victim with deportation and imprisonment if she disobeyed them, and kept her inside their home, not allowing her to socialize, communicate freely with outside world, or leave the house unsupervised. The victim was required to hide in her basement bedroom wherever non-family members were present in the house.
"Preying on this woman's hope for a better life, this couple instead forced her into a life of involuntary servitude", said Wan J. KIm, assistant attorney general.
"The Justice Department takes these crimes seriously and is committed to prosecuting those involved in the systematic abuse and degradation of others", she said.
The case against the Calimlims was initiated from a call made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement national hotline. ICE law enforcement personnel staff the hotline around the clock to take leads from the public about suspicious activity or reports of crimes. Leads generated from hotline calls have resulted in the arrests of a wide range of criminals, including aggravated felons, smugglers, fugivitives, sexual predators and aliens who have re-entered the country after being deported.
Defense attorneys acknowledged that the family went to great lengths to keep her hidden in the home, but said that was done to protect her, not coerce her. They said the woman, Irma Martinez, agreed to the rules because she wanted to work for them rather than live in the Philippines.
"It is a basic and fundamental human right to be free, and no person should ever be forced to live in a world of fear, virtual isolation and servitude", said Brian Falvey, resident agent-in-charge of the Milwaukee ICE office.
"[Their] conviction is a testament to our solemn commitment to protect those who cannot protect themselves. the exploitation of the illegal work force is modern day slavery, and ICE will aggressively investigage those who engage in trafficking human beings", he added.
Jefferson Sr. and Elnora Calimlim each face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison, mandatory restitution, and US$1.25 million in fines. Jefferson Calimlim Jr., faces up to five years in prison, restitution, and US$250,000 in fines. The government is also seeking forfeiture of the Calimlim's house as an "intrumentality of the crime", since it was used to enslaved the victim.
Defense attorneys said they plan to appeal the convictions, claiming the case was "rife with issues"because the forced labor charged was enacted in 2000 and largely untested in the courts.
(Source: Abstracted from the write-ups of Jim Kouri, June 1, 2006 / 10:37:21 PM)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 12:34 AM
Naalala ko tuloy 'yung kasabihang: "Naghanap ng kagitna, sang salop ang nawala"! I feel sorry for the family but I guess they "deserve" it. They should have known better.