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 http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/human_trafficking/initiativesPlease feel free to ask any follow up questions.
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