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Over 100 rescued from ‘stash house’

Narayan Lakshman
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HUMAN TRAFFICKING:People wait outside a ‘stash house’ for immigrants as authorities hold an investigation in southeast Houston on Wednesday.— Photo: AP
HUMAN TRAFFICKING:People wait outside a ‘stash house’ for immigrants as authorities hold an investigation in southeast Houston on Wednesday.— Photo: AP

More than 100 people, including two children and a pregnant woman, were found locked into a one-storey house in filthy conditions, in Houston, Texas earlier this week, in what appeared to be a case of human trafficking or smuggling.

John Cannon, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department said on Wednesday that the suspected stash house was discovered during a search for three missing people, and when the police entered, they found many of the people in the home dressed only in undergarments and were sitting amidst human waste and surrounded by trash bags full of old clothing.

“There is no hot water in the house. There is a toilet that partially works — one bathroom for in excess of 100 people,” Mr. Cannon said.

According to local media the “hostages” including 94 adult males, 14 adult females and the two children will be turned over to the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), though they appeared to have been “held against their will by smugglers or ‘coyotes.’”

ICE spokesman Greg Palmore said that the people were primarily from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador.

Houston is located nearly seven hours from the Mexican border, making it a popular route for immigrants, Mr. Palmore was quoted saying, adding, “Houston is significant for [its] highway corridors [with which] you can pan out anywhere in the United States… and it’s very easy to assimilate into the communities here.”

Border crossing continue to be a serious issue in states such as Texas and there does not appear to be an imminent solution to the problem after the U.S. Congress last year stalled President Barack Obama’s proposed comprehensive immigration reform.

After a bi-partisan group of Senators, known as the “Gang of Eight” got the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernisation Act of 2013 passed on June 27, 2013, in a historic 68-to-32 vote the bill has run into a wall of opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Conservatives mostly oppose the Democrats’ proposals on providing a path to citizenship for eleven million undocumented immigrants in the country, a temporary worker programme, greater visa numbers for skilled foreign workers, and a national employment eligibility verification system.

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