A US federal judge in Missouri on Friday ordered the deportation of Taiwanese official Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍), who pleaded guilty last year to human trafficking charges for abusing her two Filipina maids, the US Attorneys Office said.
Liu, the 64-year-old director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, Missouri, was arrested in November and charged with fraud in foreign labor contracting in connection with her treatment of the two maids.
Liu ultimately admitted to forcing the two women, whom she hired in the Philippines and brought to work for her in the US between 2009 and last year, to toil day and night for significantly less pay than promised in their contracts.
US District Judge Greg Kays in Kansas City sentenced Liu, who has been in custody since her arrest, to time served and ordered her deported back to Taiwan as part of a plea deal.
Prosecutors said Liu told one of the women she would pay her US$1,240 a month to work eight hours a day, five days a week — but only paid her US$450 a month and forced her to work 16 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week.
She also installed surveillance cameras inside her home in Johnson County, Kansas, to monitor the woman. She did not allow her to leave without supervision or permission, and seized her passport and visa and refused to return them.
According to an FBI affidavit filed in the case, Liu also warned the woman she “has friends with local law enforcement and [was] well-known in the community, so if the [female victim] acted out, she would be deported.”
Liu pleaded guilty to the charges in November.
The judge also ordered Liu to pay US$80,044 in restitution to the women, as well as an as-yet unspecified fine, and to cover the full costs of her incarceration and deportation, including round-trip airfare for the US immigration agents who will escort her back to Taiwan.
Don Ledford, a spokesman for Missouri’s federal prosecutor, said he did not know exactly when Liu would be deported.
“The only guess I can make is that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] probably does not feel comfortable discussing the specifics,” he said.
Liu’s two former maids are eligible for T-visas, designed to help victims of human trafficking who cooperate with prosecutors. The visas will allow them to live and work legally in the US and to apply for permanent residency after three years, the US attorney’s office said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang (章計平) said Liu was expected to be returned soon, adding that a special team would carry out an internal investigation into the Liu case when she returns to Taiwan.
In related news, the ministry said the US had agreed to a request by Taipei to discuss the terms of the existing diplomatic immunity treaty between the two sides, in the wake of the Liu case.
The ministry said it had proposed a comprehensive review of the privileges, exemptions and immunities in the treaty so that Taiwanese diplomats in the US will be guaranteed better rights in future.
The US has agreed to the request to review the treaty, which was signed in October 1980, the ministry said.
Additional reporting by CNA and AFP