News/US: INS to release asylum seekers

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Subject: News/US: INS to release asylum seekers
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Oct 01 1999 - 13:58:18 EDT


Well, it's not only Canada that keeps vicims of trafficking locked up "for
their own protection" - the US does it also! See below!

Melanie

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INS to release asylum seekers
September 17, 1999

ULLIN, Ill. (AP) -- The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service says it
will release 34 Chinese asylum-seekers being held in a southern Illinois
jail and will not challenge the requests of 54 others to be moved.

The asylum-seekers have been held at the 205-bed Tri-County Detention
Center about 110 miles southeast of St. Louis since June 4, shortly after
they were found hiding in the holds of gangsters' ships in the waters off
Guam.

INS spokesman Russ Bergeron said attorneys for 34 of the detainees
convinced the agency their clients would be safe from organized crime
smuggling gangs, to whom the detainees are in debt for about $30,000 each.
INS officials said the detainees were being held for their own protection.

"Our fundamental concern is the vulnerability of these people to the
organized crime groups who clearly are expecting to collect the smuggling
fees," Bergeron said.

Refugee advocates, however, said the asylum-seekers should not be held in
prison, especially in deep southern Illinois, far from most attorneys with
immigration experience who could take their cases.

Of the more than 400 Chinese people found aboard the ships, only 89 were
allowed into the United States. The 35 women, 53 men and one teen-age boy
who was released to a shelter in Chicago because of his age were found to
have a "credible fear" of persecution if returned home.

INS officials say the gangsters who ran the ships have been indicted on
charges of smuggling humans, a federal offense, and are jailed in the
United States pending trial.

Melanie Orhant
morhant@igc.org
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STOP-TRAFFIC is a facilitated, international electronic mailing list
dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking in
persons, with an emphasis on trafficking in persons for forced
prostitution, sweatshop labor, domestic service and coercive mail order
bride arrangements.
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