Friday, May 19, 2006
'Dogs have more rights'
Walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, a 34-hear-old Mexican native named Flor tells me she is simply grateful to have her freedom.

Four years ago, Flor says, she was lured from her home in Mexico by people who promised her free passage to the United States, legal entry, and a good job as a tailor near Los Angeles.

When she arrived, however, she was immediately enslaved in a sweat shop and forced to sew 18 hours a day, sleep in a storage room, and eat little, she tells us. She says her boss told her she could go nowhere until she paid $2,600 for her transit into the country.

"She threatened me," Flor says, sighing, thinking of her mother and children still in Mexico. "She said if I tried to escape...somebody who I loved would pay the consequences."

This modern slave trade -- "human trafficking," as it is called -- is considered the third largest criminal industry in the world; behind only drugs and gun running.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates 18,000 people a year are brought into America this way -- half for the sex trade, half to work in homes, on farms, on construction sites, and in restaurants and factories. Federal officials say they are in communities everywhere.

Flor was lucky. After one-and-a-half months, she escaped captivity, she says, and after much adjustment became convinced that U.S. authorities would sympathize with her plight and help her.

She is now living here under a special visa developed for the victims of trafficking. She's trying to bring her children in too. But she says she is haunted by something her trafficker told her.

"She said, 'Dogs have more rights in this country than we had,'" Flor tells me.

"What did you think?" I ask.

"In some ways," Flor murmurs, "She was saying the truth."

What do you think?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 2:10 PM ET
Society and governemnt don't have to make amends for an illegal who was badly treated by an unscrupulous employer because both she and the employer were operating outside the law.
If someone has a problem with it, why don't we write illegals into the law?
Posted By Anonymous Tina - Chicago IL : 2:42 PM ET
In a number of ways my heart really aches for the illegal immigrants--But I keep going back to the same thing: they are illegal! They weren't forced to come into this country they snuck in. They violated our laws. They didn't even have the respect for themselves or this country to follow the rules and enter legally. Why should I feel sorry or have pity for someone who willfully breaks our laws from the outset???
Posted By Anonymous D.Hamilton, North Beach, MD : 2:46 PM ET
Why aren't stories like her's being told to the people in her country? What is it about her story her people don't believe? I say, if you make your bed - lay in it. If you make a bad decision, then you need to deal with it. Why should American citizens feel sorry for someone like Flor?
Posted By Anonymous Judy McFarland, Fremont, CA : 2:55 PM ET
There are many reasons to secure all the borders of the United States, but human trafficking is probably the number one reason to do so. It amounts to modern day slavery.

As long as we allow this security weakness to exist, there are going to be those unscrupulous individuals who will continue to find all kinds of ways to exploit the situation.

I do feel sorry for the way the sale of dogs are being exploited, but in many ways, the dogs do have more rights than the humans who are exploited.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 3:00 PM ET
There is a world of difference between someone who comes of their own volition into the country illegally and someone who is lured into a situation by money or a job and then held captive and threatened. In the first case, the individual has committed a minor criminal act and in the second, the individual is the victim of a horrible, dehumanizing crime. I hope no one would equate the two.
Posted By Anonymous Cassie Dallas, PA : 3:02 PM ET
Obviously, illegal aliens have more rights than dogs. Don't be ridiculous. I am glad, however, that the article reveals that years of acquiescence to illegal immigration has created a humanitarian problem in this country. People frequently argue that illegals do the jobs Americans don't want to do, but that is flat wrong. Americans won't take those jobs because wages have been driven down by the economic presence of illegals. Therefore, through cheap labor, consumer prices remain low for everybody and the economy thrives. But before anyone uses that tired argument anymore, ask yourself if it's ethical to allow illegal aliens to come to this country in order to be exploited? The toughest border security possible is the moral solution to this modern slave trade.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin W., Los Angeles, CA : 3:04 PM ET
her story is sad. But the fact of the matter is, the law is the law. she came here illegally, so she shouldnt be here. it sounds to me like she would be a wonderful citizen, or could have been, if she had gone the legal route.

the law has to treat every case equally according to the facts. you came here illegally? the punishment is deportation, no matter what the emotional facts are. Sorry.
Posted By Anonymous Jon Raleigh, NC : 3:05 PM ET
Darn right! How can it be possible that this country based on freedoms looks in other direction with slave like factories running in so many places! Legal or illegal, still human beings
Posted By Anonymous Erwin Rubach, Phoenix, AZ : 3:07 PM ET
This is not just an isolated incident, this is a worldwide pandemic. The world is addicted to drugs, cheap labor, gas, chocolate, etc.

Many countries have underground labor that prop up businesses and their owners. We are patronize their products and use their services. How can we know that their working conditions are worse than 1700 slavery?
Posted By Anonymous John C. Marietta, GA : 3:10 PM ET
Oh God,
I know exactly how she feels, but i hope she knows she is not alone. A dog in this country is treated with more dignity and respect than undocumented Immigrant from Mexico or any third word country. People have more sympathy to crocodiles (alligator? whatevr)than human.
Tom, thanx for taking the human side on this issue, I saw your piece last week at the farm with the Mexicans,they were playing soccer, you seemed to have a good time, Keep up your good work.
Posted By Anonymous Subira Pontiac MI : 3:12 PM ET
It is absolutely incredible that this kind of thing happens right here in the United States. We Americans no longer have any right or reason to think we're all that much better than any other nation on the globe. We are participatinging in the same things.

Within our boarders is polygamy, sexual abuse, forced and pre-arranged marriages of minor children, ritual abuse, slavery and myriad drug crimes.

I don't want to minimize what happened to us on 911, but honestly, it's the day to day brutality that's the real terror here.

And these issues have NOTHING to do with immigration because it isn't just immigrants going through all this. Our very own fellow Americans are!

I become more and more disillusioned every day!
Posted By Anonymous Marisol, Aurora, Colorado : 3:14 PM ET
The dogs that are trafficked into the United States from Mexico certainly have no more rights than Ms. Flor. And they have no option to choose before they are transported. If your report is accurate, Ms. Flor had options and made her choice. I'm sorry for her if she now feels that she erred. But, whose fault is that?
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 3:15 PM ET
No offense to Flor, but if you are a legal US citizen, then you will have more rights than a dog. I have a problem with illegals who receive free medical care, and other freebies, on my tax dollars.

If you want to be a US Citizen, then go through the proper, legal channels. Only then, will you have "more rights than a dog".
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Brighton, TN : 3:15 PM ET
I sympathize with her for her for what happened, but she should have been immediately deported. If she feels that she feels that "Dogs have more rights here", why would she want to move her family here? It makes no sense!
Posted By Anonymous C. Tarshis, Chicago, IL : 3:35 PM ET
Enough is enough! Is CNN being paid by illegals to run stories for them? Ever heard of reporting both sides of an issue? Its amazing how little coverage
there is from the American point of view. I can think of many topics around this sent to Mexico, Latin governments who feel they can stick their noses in our business, Latin governments who only want to dump their poor and undeducated on the US, drop-out rates,schools over-run,phoney social security numbers being used. Working under the table. Get the idea? How about some fair coverage instead of all the sob stories? Of course you might not look like the illegals sweetheart if you actually report the other side. Im sure this wont be posted.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Jax FL : 3:36 PM ET
Dogs have more rights in America?

I've had my dog for 14 years now, and the only rights it thinks it has, is to do his "business" on a stranger's lawn.

Posted By Anonymous Rollo, San Diego, CA : 3:39 PM ET
Illegal Immigrants can't try and make people feel sorry for them if they are doing something illegal. I know her experience is bad, but come on. Would you feel sorry for someone if they robbed a bank? The only reason that dogs have more rights is because they are here legally. I am not racist, my mom has dated Mexican men. People have called me racist because of my views on immigration, but they are not. I just love America.
Posted By Anonymous Robin, Los Angeles, CA : 3:43 PM ET
Thanks for reporting this story.

I'm glad to know there is a special visa for trafficking victims. This is a humanitarian response to a sad situation. I had never heard of this before.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 3:45 PM ET
People like this should be accorded help and protection from the U.S. Government. At the same time. whoever was responsible for her treatment should be brought to justice, where no mercy should be shown
Posted By Anonymous Lucy, Fort Lauderdale, Florida : 3:46 PM ET
You are wrong, dogs dont have more rights
Unwanted dogs are euthanized.

I agree what happened to you was despicable. But remember you are here by choice, uninvited and illegeally. You are free and been treated decently by the authorities. Now show some respect and go back.
Posted By Anonymous Ar. Chicago, IL : 3:56 PM ET
While I empathize with Flor, she is correct in that dogs have more rights than illegals do. The key word is ILLEGALS. Dogs do not have the cognitive ability to do the crime and break laws like she does. She and her legions have broken the law and continue to do so. Therefore, she should have less rights than they do.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Foley, AL : 3:58 PM ET
This is a wonderful article for it forces us to make a decision and moral judgement between the actions of the U.S. Citizen human trafficker and the illegal immigrant.

Oh, I can't wait to see the comments.

Thanks much Tom.
Posted By Anonymous Kip Isla Bristol, WI : 3:59 PM ET
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
This woman, and others like her, are lucky that this special visa was developed because they get to stay and work towards citizenship, or at least be a legal part of our country.

If you come here legally then you deserve the rights you are granted. But illegals do not deserve the same considerations as citizens who obey the laws.
It is unfortunate that the problems have been allowed to go on so long, giving a false sense of justification to the people who have come here illegally.
Posted By Anonymous Sadie, Meadville, PA : 3:59 PM ET
These are very touching stories. However, they are one sided.

Why not have stories on people who are in America legally struggling because their wages are lowered because of illegal immigrants?

Why not have a story about 2nd and 3rd generation children of illegals who are in crime gangs creating huge problems?

Why not have a story about legal citizens who do not have access to healthcare while illegals receive healthcare at enormous costs to taxpayers?

Why not have a story on taxpayers who have to pay higher taxes to provide benefits to illegals?

Why not have a story about children in schools with inadequate funding because the schools have to educate children of illegals.

The list goes on and on. The stories on this site appeal to the emotion, but not to reason.
Posted By Anonymous Brett, San Diego, CA : 4:13 PM ET
As far as "Dogs have more rights," Cry me a river.
Posted By Anonymous Larry W., Lincoln Nebraska : 4:14 PM ET
Thats too bad what happened to her but If your not here legally you should have no rights.
Posted By Anonymous Louise, Palmdale. Calif : 4:20 PM ET
It's ridiculous to say that dogs have more rights in the US than humans. We kill 4-5 millions dogs and cats per years because people breed and abandon them. Dogs end up being vivisected, used in dogs fights, raced, killed for their fur and meat, etc. Laws are rarely enforced that protect animals. There are millions of dogs languishing in horrible conditions in this country without proper shelter, food, or water. Many are abused mercilessly.
Posted By Anonymous Terri David, Asheville, NC : 4:24 PM ET
Trafficking in humans is deplorable, but one thing that she and others who come here legally or illegally...The Founding Fathers believed that the Constitution and its rights should apply only to citizens. That is how it is in most countries. We are the rare exception that gives protections to non-citizens.
Posted By Anonymous Ed Murrell Salt Lake City Utah : 4:24 PM ET
Obviously Half of your respondants did not really read the story or they are among the many functioning illterate we have her. The woman believed she WAS coming here legally. She was duped by criminals. Just like the real criminals who hire illegal aliens. Put enough yuppies with mexican maids in jail and then something real will be done about this problem.
Posted By Anonymous Gordi Omaha Nebraska : 4:25 PM ET
What rights do dogs have that this woman speaks of that illegal immigrants don't?

According to the law, dogs are considered property in this country. I don't think illegal immigrants are legally considered property. Maybe this lady should spend some time around a LEGAL puppymill in this country.

If she feels this way, she should go back to where she comes from. Geez, do dogs have more rights than she does there?

This is such an idiotic stance and argument. And I'm very saddened that CNN had decided to stir the pot as it were.
Posted By Anonymous Shari, Los Angeles : 4:27 PM ET
Strange how many people in the comments say that "She doesn't belong here, deport her" when the point is that she was lied to in order to bring her to the USA. She was promised to be brought here legally. That did not happen.
The people who brought her here only care about taking her money. She is the victim of a crime, regardless of where she "belongs".
Posted By Anonymous Jen, Jax, FL : 4:29 PM ET
These famous lines are written on a plaque in our own Statue of Liberty.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Just thought I'd remind people about some of the foundations our nation was built on. How did we wander so far from these ideals. Are we not all immigrants.
Posted By Anonymous Jeanne, Bozeman Montana : 4:31 PM ET
Oh gosh, another sob story. This woman is an illegal immigrant, she came here as an illegal immigrant, she has no right to be here. She is simply a prt of a hord of parasites that take jobs from Amercian's, eat up tax dollars to the tune of 1.6 trillion dollars a year, and are reponsible for around 40% of the violent crimes committed in this country. Look, more American's are murdered every year by illegals from Mexico alone than died in the 9-11 attacks. At least 35% of our prison population are illegals. And President Bush and Congress' answer is to spend a paltry 1.6 billion to build a bit more than 100 miles of fence?

Our politician's can waste 400 billion dollars on a war in Iraq that the vast majority of Amercian's don't want and they wont spend half that on something that virtually every American is demanding? What's wrong with this picture?
Posted By Anonymous Mike Brooks; Eugene, Oregon : 4:33 PM ET
Does anyone know where the derogatory and "politcally incorrect" term for an Italian immigrant, WOP, comes from? That's right, it means WithOut Papers. My how things haven't changed.

I only ask that those of you who are vehemently opposed to helping undocumented workers gain citizenship make sure you don't cross the fine line between patriotism and racism.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Glendale, CA : 4:34 PM ET
This woman is just as guilty as the woman that trafficked her in. If you are here illegally, what makes you think you have rights?

I can not believe the stupidity spewing from the mouths of American citizens who somehow feel that illegal imigration is okay! It is stealling- stealling from you and me! You do not understand the scope of this becasue you do not see the money leaving your wallet or purse.

I guess I can break into the local grocery store and steal groceries for tonight. Why not, I am not hurting anyone and I am trying to better provide for my family. This is the logic some of you use!

I think people should be treated with respect and in a humanitarian fashion, but a crime is a crime and there should be consequeses. The way I see it, illegals have MORE freedoms that I do as an American citizen- they get FREE medical care and education, AND they can get away with BREAKING THE LAW. All things that I can not do.
Posted By Anonymous RJ, DFW, TX : 4:36 PM ET
Being an American Citizen has almost lost it's value for me. I love this country, and I love the opportunities. But we as Americans need to be taken care of by our government first. I can't afford health insurance, where's my cut of the benefits? If illegals are begging, I'm going to start begging too.
Posted By Anonymous Elle, Denver Colorado : 4:37 PM ET
I feel sorry when some one is enslaved the way that Flor was and the people that did that had no right to trick her into the situation. But the fact is she is still illegal. And I don't think that they are treated worse than dogs. Goodness, waltz into our country and then make demands on us. Protest even and we do nothing. Give them housing, food, medical attention, free education for their children and not to mention that we have to spend extra money to make all our goverment forms in a language they can read so they can get a drivers licences.

I don't have a problem with people immagrating here. My step-mother is from Korea, she come here the leagal route. Took her a year to get her visa. I take offence to people who think they can come in illegally and then expect us just to hand them over every citizen has. Some of the citizens of this country worked darn hard for the right to be here. While others think it should just be handed to them because they broke our laws. Then tell us how they are mistreated. If it's so bad then go back to the county you came from.
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie, St. Louis, MO : 4:39 PM ET
I still do not understand when people say that she broke the law, hence I cannot feel bad for her. There is nothing wrong in understanding how horrible it must be in your own country that you need to risk your life to cross illegally to the US and do jobs that most of us would not even consider. It is true that many Americans do not do those jobs because salaries have gone down so much because of the supply of an even cheaper labor force. I also do not understand that being anti-immigrant can be equated to racism. Mexicans come in all colors, and they are not the only illegals in this country. Canadians are one of the largest group of illegals and somehow we do not talk about them. I wonder if most of the people that are so offended by these illegals, would show the same concern if they came from Europe. Just a though.
Posted By Anonymous Phil, Washington, DC : 4:41 PM ET
We are discussing the rights of illegals to the point of nauseum when right here in the US our own citizens born on this soil do not have full and equal rights. We as a country should be ashamed of ourselves for the treatment we continue to show towards homosexuals.

This is a DEMOCRACY with a Constitution that guarantees the rights of every man, woman and child. That all are equal and shall be treated as such. So why is it my neighbors that have been together for 17 years, have 2 children and are good citizens cannot have the same EQUAL (not special) rights that we all take for granted everyday. The US is no longer a leader but a country led by fear thru the manipulaiton of this sitting administration.
Posted By Anonymous Dawn, Dallas TX : 4:44 PM ET
I really don't know if I am more disgusted by the people who enslave immigrants to this country who are in an easily exploitable situation, or by my fellow legal citizens who say "that's okay, she was here illegally"

Newsflash America: Unless you're a Native American, your family came here from somewhere else too!

I can trace my family back to when we showed up at Ellis Island five generations ago. I happened to be born here like the last four generations, but I still come from a family of immigrants (and so does almost everyone else), so I think Flor has just as much right to be here as I do.

One last point: these immigrants wouldn't be here illegally if we had a sensible immigration process that didn't years to go through.
Posted By Anonymous Martin, Washington DC : 4:44 PM ET
I can't believe people are actually debating whether Flor literally has fewer rights than a dog. The point she is making is that she was treated inhumanely and, trapped in human trafficking, she had no recourse, no where to turn for help.

For those calling her a "criminal," a reminder: coming across the border without proper documentation is not part of our criminal law; it is not a felony or even a misdemeanor. Coming across this way is a "civil" infraction. So if you have ever gone over the speed limit, you are as "illegal" as Flor.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy, Oxnard, CA : 4:46 PM ET
Kip you're saying that if I've got three choices how would decide:

Citizen Trafficker, Illegal Flor, and Citizen Dog. Hmmmmm.

I'd say Jail the trafficker for she will continue to do evil to not just illegals but citizens too. Adopt then neuter the dog; and then let us give Flor some kind of minimal rights for Christ's sake, if not human rights, at least some U.S. citizen Dog Rights!

We owe it to our children to behave like human beings. Our future as a Civilized Nation depends on it.
Posted By Anonymous A. Williams Sioux City, IA : 4:46 PM ET
Has anyone ever considered the reason why people immigrate from foreign countries. Just try to think about the harsh realities of life compared to the luxuries we have. Some people will only dream and never experience the lives we have. Apply this to how we gain these luxuries and what our countries do to make other nations this way (i.e., sweatshops and war). Have some empathy. It seems that Americans have an "out of sught, out of mind mentality" when things do not directly or personally affect them.
Posted By Anonymous R.J., Los Angeles, CA : 7:17 PM ET
Someone made a great point earlier about the "hype" caused by the color of individuals that migrate to America. Here in Fla, Hatians are more likely deported than Cubans. Why? Do they not commit the same offense? Maybe the offense is that they are of a darker color or a less affluent background. This is really sad for us to have this mentality as a people. Obviously any immigrant willing to risk their lives and the lives of their children for a chance for better opportunities shout that things must be really bad where they're coming from. So maybe we should step out of our own shoes and walk a mile in theirs before we judge.

As humans, there are inalienable rights that should be extended to us all depite our color or status. I just read a story of horrible sex crimes happening to women in the Congo, and I felt so guilty to know that every day there a sense of safety I have living in this country that they will never feel. There are so many other horrible wars and things that go on all over the world, but as American's we have the ability to shut our eyes and turn away because it's not happening here.
Yes, I agree, we have our own issues but to reject those that are suffering for sake of preserving our own status quo is intolerable and selfish especially in light of the fact that we were all once immigrants.

No wonder the world hates us as a people. We're pompus and snobbish and obviously don't remember our genisis.
Keep in mind that pride always come before the fall...
Posted By Anonymous Sasha, WPB Fla : 3:09 PM ET
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