Trafficking victim granted T-visa, seeks $300K in back wages

Jacqueline Aguirre with lawyer Felix Vinluan

Accountant Jacqueline Aguirre, a victim of human trafficking, has been granted a T-visa by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), according to a statement from the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns or Nafcon.

The T-visa is valid for a period of four years, from September 21, 2012 to September 20, 2016, also authorizing her to work in the United States. In addition, her removal proceedings had been terminated by the immigration judge on October 11, 2012.

“I am so happy,” Aguirre said. “This is a proof that victories can be achieved if we fight for it.”

Based on the lawsuit pending in the Eastern District Court of New York, Aguirre worked as a staff accountant in Best Care Agency owned by Dorothy de Castro and Perlita Jordan in Floral Park starting in 2001. The agency promised to sponsor her as an H-1B worker and to pay her initially at the rate of $19 per hour for a regular 40-hour work week.

After her H-1B petition was approved, Aguirre was not paid the prevailing wage rate or the offered wage. Her compensation was cut in half. The agency then represented to her that she would receive the prevailing wage rate once she received her green card, which they likewise promised they would initiate. She was told that if she did not agree to receive the less pay, they would discontinue their H-1B sponsorship and she would become unlawfully present and could be deported. Not wanting to be deported, Aguirre begrudgingly accepted the agency’s conditions, and hoped that her green card sponsorship would be approved soon, as her employers kept on reminding her they had the financial capability to sponsor her immigrant petition, said the Nafcon statement.

According to Corporation Wiki, de Castro is the CEO and president of Best Care, and Jordan the vice president and treasurer. In its Manta company profile, Best Care has been in business 20 years and has four employees.

Even while her green card application was pending, Aguirre demanded that she be paid the prevailing wage rate. Her employers told her to wait for her green card approval. In April 2009, the USCIS denied Best Care Agency’s immigrant petition for Aguirre after failing to submit sufficient evidence it had the financial capability to pay Aguirre the offered wage.

“Best Care had fraudulently represented to Aguirre it had the financial capability so that it could continue to have her work for less pay,” according to the statement.

As a result of Best Care’s financial incapability, Aguirre’s green card application was likewise denied, and she was put in removal proceedings.

“Aside from applying for T-visa, we also filed a federal complaint against Aguirre’s former employers for violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), forced labor, involuntary servitude, fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation. We are seeking compensatory damages by way of overdue wage adjustments worth at least $300,000, plus moral damages related to the abuse of Aguirre by her employers, as well as the suffering she had to undergo for having been put in removal proceedings” said Atty. Felix Vinluan, the immigration lawyer who handled Aguirre’s case.

“We admire the courage of trafficked survivors, such as Ms. Aguirre’s, to stand up for their rights,” said Michelle Saulon, Nafcon North East Coordinator.

“Acquiring the T-visa is just one of the many victories of the community that we will achieve in our campaign against labor and human trafficking,” said Jonna Baldres, Nafcon deputy general secretary.


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    For your information. Americans employers are much less abusive against Filipinos workers then Filipino employers.

  2. Nats wrote:

    I had my fair share. Not so much from the Filipino employers but more so from others in the USA.

Leave a Reply