Pinay caregiver speaks out against human trafficking

By Joseph Pimentel, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Nov. 26, 2013

FULLERTON, Calif. – Angela Guanzon thought her American dream was within reach. With a visa in one hand and a plane ticket in the other, Guanzon, originally from Bacolod City, Philippines, traveled to the United States in 2005. She thought working in America would give her a better life.

She was wrong.

“I worked 18 hour days and had to sleep on the floor in a hallway,” Guanzon said. “My co-workers and I were threatened if we tried to escape.”

With a steely demeanor, the 36-year-old Guanzon paused at times as she recounted her story at a house committee on foreign affairs hearing at California State University Fullerton.

Hosted by Congressman Ed Royce, the hearing examined what the State Department, law enforcement officials, and community organizations are doing to combat this form of “modern day slavery.”

Royce said the State Department’s human trafficking ranking is a good step. Countries are trying to stay away from being named in that report.

“It shames them for their failure to comply with efforts to stop the trafficking of underage girls and try to stop trafficking of labor,” Royce said.

Human trafficking, which includes sex and labor is a $32 billion criminal enterprise worldwide, second only to narcotics, according to officials.

A new report from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center shows that from 2007 to 2012 close to 10,000 cases of human trafficking were reported in the United States.

More than 42 percent of sex trafficking cases involved pimp-controlled prostitution and more than 27 percent of labor trafficking cases involved domestic work—the most common form of labor trafficking.

About 84 percent of these cases are reported by immigrants.

Guanzon’s story is not uncommon in the Filipino community. The Philippines is notoriously known as a source country where human trafficking is pervasive.

Mired in poverty, countless Filipino men and women looking for an opportunity to support their families fall victim to unscrupulous recruiters and agencies.

“The Philippines is the second largest victim population we’re serving,” Kay Buck of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking said. “It’s a combination of sex and labor trafficking.”

Buck said she’s hoping new legislation brought up by Congressman Royce will help curb labor trafficking.

The FBI rescued Guanzon and several other workers in 2008. She said she testified because she doesn’t want what happened to her, happen to anyone else.

“I know going to America is a big opportunity, but make sure you get all of the information before you go,” she said.

One Comment

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  • ID
    26 November 2013 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    Yes America is the land of opportunity, if you do it the right way. This shouldn’t happen Human trafficking, if only you all did it the right way to come to america. Think the information about all the things that is not good in america is in front of you to read, the bad thinks and good thinks ?