Erlinda* came from the Philippines to work as a domestic worker for a diplomat in Washington D.C. She traveled on a visa for domestic workers of foreign dignitaries. However, upon her arrival in Washington D.C., Erlinda’s employer confiscated her identity documents and forced her to work around the clock, under constant surveillance and threat of deportation.


Erlinda’s visa was tied to her employer, and she would have immediately lost legal status if she left her employer’s home—a fact her employer reminded her of constantly. Erlinda was never paid and was forced to sleep on the floor. Despite these threats, Erlinda finally found the courage to leave her employer’s home.


With Ayuda’s help, she applied for and was granted a T visa. Through the process, she learned about her rights in the United States and cooperated in an investigation of her employer. She was able to reunite with her family members and is now rebuilding her life.


Stories like Erlinda’s are all too common in the Washington D.C. area.


However, due to anti-immigrant rhetoric and heightened immigration enforcement, immigrants in Erlinda’s situation are even more afraid of immigration consequences and are therefore more vulnerable to human trafficking and less likely to report their traffickers. As a result, human trafficking victims are not receiving legally mandated protections and perpetrators are enjoying impunity for their actions.


*Name changed to protect client’s identity
Ayuda's Response to Busing of Migrants

Since April 2022, Ayuda has been working to help coordinate the humanitarian response as the governors of Texas and Arizona continue to send thousands of migrants on buses to Washington, D.C.

We are providing culturally and linguistically specific legal, social and language access services to newly arriving migrants. These services include case management and intake support, interpretation, as well as the provision of food, clothing, hygiene kits, prepaid cell phones, medical supplies, and paid shelter.

Our legal team is providing individualized legal orientations for migrants explaining the immigration system and helping them be aware of their rights and responsibilities.  

“Immigrants are first and foremost, human beings. They deserve respect and compassion, and Ayuda will continue to do what we do best – provide holistic support to those in need in our communities.” - Paula Fitzgerald, Executive Director

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