A Colorado businessman allegedly lured nurses to the United States under false pretenses, placed them in nursing homes to work and demanded money to maintain their work visas, according to government prosecutors.
The defendant, Kizzy Kalu, faces charges that he went overseas to recruit nurses by promising high salaries and placement as instructors or supervisors at a nursing school, according to the Denver Post. The recruits were actually placed in nursing homes, and Kalu forced them to pay him $1,200 a month to maintain their H1-B work visas, the government contends. The indictment also alleges that for a period of time, the nursing homes paid the nurses’ wages to Kalu’s company, and he only passed on a portion of the pay to the workers, ABC News reported.
The case is being fought in the U.S. District Court in Denver. Taking the stand on Monday, Kalu said he was “transparent” in his dealings with the recruits, the Post reported. He also said that he temporarily paid the nurses’ rent and furnished their apartments after they arrived in the United States. Most of them came from the Philippines.
This court case is playing out as federal lawmakers work to hammer out a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The American Health Care Association has urged Congress to allow more immigrant nursing home workers, to help alleviate staffing shortages in long-term care.