JG - US bars Air J trio - Accused of human trafficking
US bars Air J trio - Accused of human trafficking
published: Tuesday June 21, 2005
John Myers Jr., Staff Reporter
AT LEAST three Air Jamaica employees have reportedly been barred from entering the United States and their visas cancelled for allegedly being involved in facilitating the illegal entry of people into that country.
The Gleaner understands that the three are among several employees of the airline who are now under the microscope of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on allegations of human trafficking.
"An immigration officer who works at the American Embassy ... said that everyone that was involved - meaning their signing codes were involved - as well as suspects, are on a list and they cannot enter into the United States pending investigation," Mary*, one of the blacklisted employees, told The Gleaner.
Has "Mary" no shame?
She related an incident in May where her Sabre signing code was used to check in three persons of Asian descent who were en route to Toronto, Canada, via Jamaica.
David*, another affected Air Jamaica employee, said he was prevented from entering the U.S. by immigration officials earlier this month. After being taken into a room and questioned about his place of employment and his reason for travelling, the employee said, "He (the immigration official) read from the paper he pulled from the printer that he had information that I was involved in, or assisted three illegal immigrants, to get into the United States on May 17." The immigration official then advised him that his visa had been revoked.
David said that before he was sent back home the next morning, his fingerprints and photograph were taken. He said his passport was seized and he was referred to as a 'deportee' when being placed on the flight to return home.
Fingerprinting (minimum of two fingers, typically both index fingers) and photograph are currently routine for all foreign travelers entering the U.S. Why wouldn't we fingerprint and photograph someone to whom we were denying admittance?
Michael*, another Air Jamaica employee, said he suffered a similar fate when he tried to travel to the U.S. earlier this month. He was told that he was suspected of facilitating the trafficking of illegal immigrants into the country and his visa was revoked.
Since the incident, the employees said they have been unable to get an explanation from the management of Air Jamaica or the U.S. Government regarding why they have been identified as suspects in facilitating the trafficking of illegal immigrants. Responding to enquiries by one of the Air Jamaica employees, an official at the U.S. Embassy in New Kingston said the matter was being handled by their superiors in Washington.
"We are uncomfortable over the fact that these workers' names were submitted without a proper investigation taking place ... nobody could know these workers outside Air Jamaica personnel or the security at the airports," charged Granville Valentine, spokesman for National Workers' Union (NWU), which represents workers at Air Jamaica.
He said the Air Jamaica management, when contacted, denied any knowledge of the action. But, he said a serious situation existed where employees security signature codes were being accessed and used by other employees.
Sandrea Falconer, director of communication at Air Jamaica, said she had no knowledge of the situation, while the U.S. Embassy declined to comment.
"As I am sure you will understand, for security reasons we do not comment on investigations. Nor do we discuss specific visa revocation cases or the individuals involved," Glenn Guimond, the embassy's spokesman said in an electronic mail response.
* Names changed on request