A huge and modern city like Houston is no refuge from human trafficking, as many women have found.
November 25, 2008: The issue of visas for victims of sex trafficking is prominently featured in an article in the The Houston Chronicle this week.
The November 24 article by Lise Olsen goes into some detail about the plight of women trapped by traffickers in the Houston metro area, and describes how the first T visas (a category for trafficking victims) were issued in 2001 when 300 mostly Vietnamese women were rescued from the Daewoosa garment factory in American Samoa. The women had paid for one-way tickets to the island with the understanding that they were getting good jobs. Instead, they were held prisoner and forced to work without pay or adequate food.
A total of 260 Daewoosa victims got T visas — 40 others had been flown back by the trafficker to Vietnam before advocates could help them, Nguyen Dinh Thang, executive director of Boat People SOS, told The Houston Chronicle. Boat People SOS helped the workers resettle in the mainland U.S.
Federal law gave the Daewoosa victims the opportunity to apply for permanent residence or citizenship after their T visas’ expiration, but none of them have been able to do so because US government officials have not yet issued required regulations.
“I don’t know what to tell my clients,” An Phong Vo, who works with those who live in Houston as staff attorney for the local office of Boat People SOS, told The Houston Chronicle. “They’re pro-active members of American society. They live and work together. … Many of them want to get their green cards and eventually become US citizens.”
Click here to read the entire Houston Chronicle article.