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MyraB, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 371
Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in criminal law and civil litigation from pre-trial practice to appeal.
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A friend of my wife and her friends father live with live

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A friend of my wife and her friend's father live with live with a relative in Minnesota. The relative (the father's sister) sponsored their immigration to the USA. They have green cards / permanent residence status. Their sponsor is VERY controlling and treats them like indentured servants. She has threatened to have them deported if they do not do as she wishes (I have found out she cannot have them deported). She took possession of their passports and refuses to give them back to them. She says that they do not need them and that she doesn't know where they are. Is she in violation of any laws? Can she be held accountable and if so how?

Thank you.

Hello and thank you for your question. I am very sorry to hear of this distressing situation.

Yes, the sponsor is in violation of the law because she basically stole their passports. However, if she claims she cannot "find" them, there may be little the police can do. In that case, the passports can be deemed lost. Lost or stolen passports can be replaced. The relatives should notify the issuing country that their passports are lost or stolen. In that event the old passports will be canceled and they will be issued new passports. They may want to have the new passports sent to a different address.

In addition, they may want to get away from this sponsor if they are being treated like indentured servants. Criminal charges may also be brought against the sponsor for extortion if she is threatening them to gain a benefit. If the maltreatment includes assault or battery then criminal charges could be brought for that also. They may also want to consider reporting the sponsor to the FBI who has a dedicated program to address these types of situations. Information on that option can be found here

Please feel free to ask any follow up questions.

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