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California Couple Sentenced for Smuggling, Harboring Aliens; 'Slave Labor'

February 14, 2012 (1 min read)

"The Filipino workers arrived at LAX believing they had found good jobs caring for elderly patients in picturesque Paso Robles, Calif.  But inside the converted ranch-style homes where they cared for aged residents, the immigrants worked 24-hour shifts with few, if any, days off. Their quarters were walk-in closets, attached garages and hallway floors. Their bosses confiscated their passports and warned them to stay away from public transportation to avoid being identified by immigration agents.  The scheme was executed by a man and his wife, who themselves came to the country from the Philippines in search of success, according to court records.  Maximino Morales, 46, and Melinda Morales, 48, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants. A judge sentenced them Monday to 18 months in federal prison for their role in helping the workers obtain fraudulent visas and for making them work in substandard conditions." - Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 14, 2012.

See also the U.S. Attorney's Office press release: “The Filipino victims in this case were lured to the United States with false promises and were essentially performing slave labor,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “We are committed to protecting the basic civil rights of all people, no matter their status in the United States.”