ICE Deports Filipino Couple Involved In Human Trafficking

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The Filipino husband-and-wife doctors, accused of modern-day slavery, have been deported from the United States, according to Gail R. Montenegro, spokesperson of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Chicago, Illinois.

The U.S. ICE’s Enforcment and Removal Operations (ERO) deported Jefferson Calimlim, Sr., 67, and his wife, Elnora, 66, both former medical doctors in neighboring Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last June 12, escorted to Manila arriving on June 14. The investigation leading to their arrest and conviction was conducted by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and partner law enforcement agencies.

On Dec. 7, 2010, a federal immigration Judge in Chicago ordered the Calimlims removed to the Philippines after they complete their prison sentences. On June 1, 2012, the Calimlims were released from the Bureau of Prisons and turned over to ICE to be deported. The Calimlims were convicted last May 26, 2006 by the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin in Milwaukee for forcing a woman to work under conditions of servitude for nearly two decades in their Brookfield, Wisonsin home. They were sentenced to six years in federal prison on human trafficking charges, and ordered to pay more than $900,000 in restitution to the victim.

The woman, Irma Martinez, was granted permanent residence after testifying to her nearly two decades of working under conditions of servitude in the couple’s Brookfield home. Her lawyers could not be reached for comment.

The couple was also earlier ordered by U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin Judge Lynn Adelman to pay Martinez $1-Million in punitive damages after they were found liable for Civil RICO violation for human trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, harboring an alien, mail and wire fraud.

$1-M ON TOP OF $900K RESTITUTION

The $1-million award is on top of the nearly $916,635 in restitution prosecutors said the couple owed for two decades Irma Martinez who worked for them as a maid, cook, nanny and car trouble-shooter. The couple has so far paid Martinez $700,000 from a retirement account and a $150,000 from their withdrawal taxes. Judge Adelman’s order did not find liable “the children of the defendants Christina Calimlim, Jefferson M. Calimlim and Christopher Jack Calimlim for any of the claims or allegations against them set forth in the Complaint.”

In 2008, the Calimlim couple was convicted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to four years in prison of the crime of forced labor, harboring an alien for private financial gain. The couple challenged the ruling.

The appellate court (the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit) in Chicago rejected their appeal and ordered the U.S. District court to re-sentence the couple to another felony offense – using minors to commit a crime.

Chief U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa increased their sentence from four to six years.

Because they never applied for U.S. citizenship although they were both legal resident aliens when they came to the United States in the 1970’s, they would had to serve out their sentences before they were deported to the Philippines.

LIVED IN $1.2-M PALATIAL HOME

Court records show that the couple and their children lived in their $1.2-million palatial home in Brookfield, where they concealed Irma Martinez from their close friends.

Martinez told the court she was hardly allowed to call her family in the Philippines. Her letters to her family were placed inside a second envelope without return addresses.

Court records showed that Martinez was 19 years old when she was brought from the Philippines by Dr. Jovito Mendoza, the father of defendant Elnora Calimlim, to the United States to become a domestic helper in the Calimlim residence in Brookfield in the late 1980s.

Records said that by telling “Martinez that if she did not do everything they asked, they would not send money back to her family (in the Philippines), the Calimlims also knew that not sending money back home was, for Martinez, a ‘serious harm.’”

Records also disclosed that by keeping Martinez’s passport and never offering to try to regularize her presence in the United States, the Calimlims “intentionally manipulated the situation” to “compel her to remain” as their servant.

The court also pointed out that based on the ample evidence in the record the Calimlims used their children to help conceal Martinez and to keep her in bondage all those (19) years.

2ND LONGEST INDENTURED SERVITUDE CASE

Moreover, it said that the use by the Calimlims of their young children to conceal for 19 years the plight of the maid as another felony offence that needed separate sentencing.

This is the second-longest indentured-servitude case investigated by HSI. This was one of the first federal cases to be prosecuted under the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), and the first human trafficking conviction whose elements did not stem upon physical abuse, but rather through fraud and threatened deportation.

“The removal of the Calimlims concludes one of our most significant human trafficking investigations,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago.

The case against the Calimlims was initiated by an anonymous call to HSI’s national hotline: 1-866-DHS-2ICE. Law enforcement personnel staff the hotline around-the-clock to take leads from the public about suspicious activity or reports of crimes. Leads generated from hotline calls have resulted in the arrests of a wide range of criminals, including aggravated felons, smugglers, fugitives, sexual predators, and aliens who have re-entered the country after being deported. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

PHOTO:

Composite photo of Elnora & Jefferson Calimlim. (jGLiPhotograb from Balitang America)

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