Harrowing Seattle Immigration Story (Part II)

June 22, 2016 3:20 pm
by David Jakeman

The following is part II of a story about a young undocumented immigrant from Mexico who was brought to the United States and forced to work. Part I provides the background to this story, and part II provides details of her experience.

Crossing the Border

Seattle immigration attorneys have likely met someone who has at one point crossed the U.S.-Mexican border, which is what the young girl recently rescued from forced-labor conditions did. She crossed the border with Angel Sandoval Mondragon into Texas at Brownsville with the aid of a coyote—the term used for smugglers paid to help immigrants cross the border. Sandoval allegedly used this to tell the girl that she owed him $2,000 for the coyote in addition to all the money that she had already paid him.

She protested, but he said that if she didn’t comply with his wishes, she could go back home. The girl had no idea how to return to Mexico, or how to get to her mother’s house. By this time, she was already worried about her situation. Sandoval’s sister and her husband Arcef-Flores picked the two up in Texas and drove them to Aberdeen, Washington, where she shared a room with another girl. In 2008, child services inspected the house when a bruise was found on the other girl’s arm, but no action was taken.

Abuse of Other Girls and Extortion

Arcef-Flores was later charged with molesting an 11-year-old girl, and he ultimately pled guilty to three sexual assault-related counts. Arcef-Flores was sentenced to nine months in jail for raping another child. Arcef-Flores was also a pastor prior to this later conviction, and he forced the young girl transported by Sandoval to pay tithes to him, even after he was no longer a pastor. The other members of the family that the young girl lived with told her she owed them money and that she needed to pay them.

The young girl was forced to make pies, donuts, and chocolates at factories in Kent and Federal Way. She also worked as a live-in nanny until they were able to find a way to get her the fake identities needed to work. Her paychecks went directly to Sandoval, and she was not allowed to send money back to her mother. She eventually lost her job and was driven to the U.S.-Mexico border but eventually returned to Seattle.

Investigations finally caught up to the four involved in her coercion, and they were indicted last year on charges of forced labor and human trafficking.1 The outcome of her case is still pending. Seattle immigration attorneys must be aware of these stories in order to understand the challenges facing undocumented immigrants. It’s these stories that help display how challenging it is to protect the most vulnerable and the duty immigration attorneys have in helping those in need.

1 – http://komonews.com/news/local/police-mexican-girl-promised-education-in-us-was-enslaved-instead-12-23-2015

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