SUSPECTED HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROBED IN CNMI

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By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, April 19) – The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Immigration is investigating a case involving a suspected human trafficking victim, which has led authorities to prevent another worker from boarding a flight in China for Saipan.

Immigration Director Melvin Grey said the first woman was intercepted at the airport by immigration officers.

"She was asked whether she came here for sexual activities and she said no. But when immigration examined her work papers, it turned out she had been hired as a cook though she’s not qualified for the job because she has no experience as a cook. In fact, she has no work experience at all," Grey told Variety.

Under Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands labor law, workers hired from foreign countries need to have at least two years of work experience.

"This case is under investigation by immigration," Grey added.

The immigration director said the interception of the woman with questionable immigration and employment documents prompted the division to institute its "authorization for entry questionnaire" for alien workers entering Saipan for the first time.

The survey asks alien workers about the jobs they’re hired for, their qualifications, their employers and their addresses and contact numbers to help deter human trafficking and illegal employment, sponsorship or other types of labor and immigration fraud.

At the same time, Grey said the division is hiring at least five more immigration investigators. These were to fill vacancies and strengthen the investigation of immigration cases, with the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies.

Last week, Federal Labor Ombudsman Jim Benedetto said human trafficking has victimized about 40 women, including minors, who were recruited as waitresses or for other jobs but were instead forced into prostitution by their employers once they arrived on Saipan.

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