Filipinos Lured by the Promise of "American Dream" End Up in the Hands of Human Traffickers
Under the false pretence of helping Filipino workers achieve the American dream, human traffickers have been sending them to other countries such as Russia and Turkey, where they are exploited for manual labor, according to Jalilo Dela Torre, the top representative of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment in Hong Kong.
However, upon arriving to Russia, workers realize that there are no such jobs awaiting them, and their dreams of making it to the U.S. seem even more improbable than before. “When they get to Russia, they often have to find jobs on their own. They are promised by recruiters here in Hong Kong that there are jobs waiting for them upon their arrival, but it turns out to be lies too,” Dela Torre said.
Although intricate trafficking networks usually involve partners in different locations, Dela Torre explains that there have been cases of “lone wolves” who travel from Russia to Hong Kong “just to recruit, accept payments and accompany victims to Russia”. Victims are then forced to cough up fees as high as HKD40,000— which is nearly eight times the minimum wage of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong (HKD4,410)—for their trip.
Promised jobs denied, workers begin to search on their own, but the process itself takes six months to a year, said Dela Torre. As of now, there are roughly 5,000 Filipinos in Russia.
This issue first surfaced in 2016 when the Philippine consulate received complaints from about 200 domestic workers that Emry’s Employment Agency, a Hong Kong-based firm, and its sister company, were charging between HKD10,000 and HKD15,000 each to apply for jobs in Britain and Canada. These jobs, however, do not even exist.