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Jan 28, 2012

Taiwan official to be deported in US maid case

Coconucumo _ | Jan 28, 2012

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Agence France-Presse

CHICAGO - A Taiwanese official who pleaded guilty to mistreating two housekeepers brought from the Philippines to work in her Missouri home will soon be deported, a judge ruled Friday.
Liu Hsien-hsien, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, Missouri, was arrested in November for allegedly treating her Filipino housekeepers like slaves.

She soon reached a plea deal with prosecutors which allowed her to avoid spending up to five years in prison if convicted of the single charge of fraud in foreign labor contracting.

But she was required to remain in jail until a federal judge had time to review the plea deal and a pre-sentencing report.

Judge Greg Kays sentenced Liu to time served on a fraud charge and ordered her to pay $80,044 in restitution to the housekeepers.

She must also pay a fine, still to be determined, to cover the full costs of her incarceration and deportation and will remain in jail until escorted to Taiwan by US immigration agents.

"I'm not sure exactly when that's going to happen," Don Ledford, a spokesman for Missouri's federal prosecutor, told AFP.

"The only guess I can make is that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) probably does not feel comfortable discussing the specifics."

The case came to light after the second housekeeper sought help from a Filipino man she met at the grocery store.

She told him that Liu had taken away her passport, told her she was not allowed to leave the house without permission, made her work 16 to 18 hour days at a quarter of the agreed wages, monitored her with video surveillance cameras and restricted when she could sleep.

Liu also allegedly told the woman that if she "acted out, she would be deported" because Liu was "friends with local law enforcement and known well in the community," charging papers said.

The previous housekeeper "went into a state of depression and stopped eating" as a result of the physical and verbal abuse, prosecutors said, citing testimony by an unnamed witness who works as a director at the Kansas City office.

The two housekeepers were certified as "victims of a severe form of human trafficking" and will receive government support for a visa which would allow them to legally remain and work in the United States, prosecutors said.

The Taipei mission, which has several offices around the United States, serves as a de facto embassy.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but has remained a key ally and a leading arms supplier to the island.

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province.


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