Child Trafficking Survivor Seeks Career as Immigration Special Agent

A decade ago, Shyima Hall’s life was pretty bleak. At the age of ten, she was a slave in a private home in Irvine, California. That is, until the day that special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrived at her doorstep while investigating her traffickers. The agents freed Shyima and arrested the family who was abusing and enslaving her. Today, Shyima is a college student and is working to become an ICE agent herself to pay forward her fortune to someone else in need.

Shyima’s journey began in Egypt, where she was brought to the U.S. as a child. The man who snuck her into the U.S. as his daughter sold her to a wealthy Egyptian couple living in California. The couple made her to work seven days a week, scouring California mansion from top to bottom and looking after their five children. Shyima slept on a dirty mattress in the garage, without blanket, even in the winter. She had to wash her clothes outside in a bucket. Unlike the family’s children, Shymia was not allowed to attend school or visit the doctor or dentist.

Just as Shyima was wondering how on earth she could escape from her hell, ICE agents in California received an anonymous tip that an Egyptian couple in Irvine had a child living with them who they might be mistreating. An investigation with child protective services and ICE working together soon followed, eventually leading agents to enter the home where Shyima was being held. They found a terrified child, who had been repeatedly told by her captors that U.S. authorities would beat her if she was ever discovered. She was frightened of the agents and what would happen to her family in Egypt, if the money from her work was no longer sent home.

Today, that child could not be a farther cry from the woman Shyima Hall has become. She is in college in Southern California, and is already working with ICE as she studies to become a special agent. Last year, she spoke to a group of special agents at a training about her experience as a human trafficking victim, including the emotional and physical trauma she endured. How does she summon then courage to relive such traumatic experiences in front of an audience? According to Shyima, “I want to do everything I can now and in the future to help people understand more about this issue.”

Human trafficking stories are too often about the triumph of oppression, desperation, or greed over justice. But Shyima Hall’s story is one of the triumph of resilience, restoration, and justice over slavery. A decade ago, Shyima Hall was given the gift of freedom by ICE agents who were complete strangers to her. And now, she’s ready to pass that gift forward as an agent herself.

Photo credit: U.S. Atty



The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. If she didn’t attempt to get away, she may not have actually have been a slave as reported, but rather freely chose to stay in an environment that was less abusive from her original situation. Just like that girl that has said to have been a victim of rape and had at least a couple kids from that older perp. A victim? I will allow a label as a victim for maybe a couple of days or weeks, beyond that, they have made a conscious decision to remain and not escape when given multiple opportunities to evade and escape. Maybe the girl just wants to claim to be a victim to get a movie, or a television gig, or book deal just like Nancy Grace of CNN still claims to have been a victim of a crime when she never was, at least according to the facts.

    • Hey michellefrommadison – you can turn off CSI now and come back to the real world. You are telling me that Shawn Hornsbeck and Jaycee Dugard and NOT victims because they never ran away. YOU PISS ME OFF.

      They are brainwashed you idiot. They are told the most horrific things, just like little Shyima “who had been repeatedly told by her captors that U.S. authorities would beat her if she was ever discovered” – they believe this. They believe that if they TRY to leave and get caught, it will be SO MUCH WORSE than it already is.

      So, Miss MichelleFromMadison, you live in your beautiful bubble-life and pray – PRAY YOUR FUCKING ASS OFF, that this horrific crime NEVER TOUCHES YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW – because it touched us. My daughter, Jessie Foster HAS been kidnapped. She IS a victim – and it has been nearly 4 fucking years. DO YOU HEAR ME!!!!

      NOW, get off your fucking high-horse and APOLOGIZE for your rude comments and remember,THERE, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I. Never think you are TOO safe, never think you are TOO above it all to be a victim. and PRAY you never are. Mother of missing Jessie Foster.


      Jessie has been missing 4 years – who would have ever thought it would be this long, and maybe longer – way longer. But I have not given up hope in finding Jessie, hopefully alive, but if she is not, she still needs to come home just as badly. She would need to rest in peace, which would surely not be possible if she knew our turmoil.

      Since Jessie has been missing (4 years ago on March 29) I have not stopped, not for one day – my own search . . . my own campaign . . . to find my daughter or at least bring worldwide attention to her disappearance. I think any mother would. No one takes a woman’s child without some sort of reaction. My life has taken on a whole new meaning. I no longer live in denial of what goes on in this world. The horrendous things that one human being (or monster) can do to another innocent person. I can’t believe it, yet I know it is true. I am not just an advocate for Jessie . . . I am an advocate for all missing persons and victims of all unsolved crimes. I am an advocate for ALL victims. In many cases, they do not have a voice that can be heard any longer, so they NEED us. They need people like myself who lives have been touched by such a horrible crime that we will never, ever be the same again. EVER. No matter what happens – even if Jessie comes home, gets healthy and lives a wonderful rest of her life – I AM STILL CHANGED FOREVER. I will have my prayers answered, my dream come true if Jessie were to come home alive and well, but if she doesn’t – if she comes home and she is not alive or if she never comes home, this is the new me. Glendene Grant. MissingJessie Foster’s mom. Person who wants to help anyone she can.

      I have 4 daughters, not just Jessie. I also have my oldest daughter, Crystal – now 27; Jessie is 2nd oldest and turning 26 in May; Katie is 23 and mother to a 1 year old son; and my youngest daughter Jennee is 20 and mother to 2 young daughters, 2 years and 2 months old. I am still here for them. I try to be there every single time they call or need me – and I usually am. I am here for my elderly father, Jim Grant – turning 84 years old in July. I am here for everyone who needs me – or I try to be. But my family understands . . . they know that I HAVE to do this. That I will go crazy if I just sit back and expect others to spread the word about Jessie; to put posters up everywhere; post on the Internet; get her story in the media. NO, it is something that I have to do and I am doing it very well.

      Just since 2010 has started I have got Jessie’s story on a couple of documentaries; in several newspaper articles (in Canada & the USA); had a couple of radio & internet interviews; went to the 19th Annual Women’s March and spoke to many other victims and families of victims and media; got together with Deb Noel and Crime Stopper’s Mark Price to get an educational program about human trafficking set up to be taken to our local high schools and hopefully it will go even farther – available online or to all schools who want to start a program – this is unreal, like a dream; there are 2 books coming out this year, one written by a reporter from the Las Vegas CityLife, Matt O’Brien, who wrote a few stories about Jessie’s case and just finished the body of his book, including Jessie’s case; one written by University of British Columbia Professor Benjamin Perrin who is writing a book about human trafficking in Canada and is including Jessie’s website & contact info in it – those are HUGE for Jessie’s case (and that will make 3 books with Jessie in it – the first one came out in 2007 by Canadian author Lisa Wojna, called MISSING! The Disappeared, Lost or Abducted in Canada);….UMMMM. There is more, I just can’t remember off the top of my head. And that is just from January and February. This is the year. Jessie will be found or she will be the poster woman for Human Trafficking in Canada. Maybe around the world, who knows. With Jessie I never think small – with Jessie, the world is here for her, to help us find her or at least bring awareness about her & her case.

      Jessie did not disappear in vain. We have not all suffered horrendously for nearly 4 years for nothing. I will educate as many people as I can and I will find Jessie – OR DIE TRYING. Not just Jessie’s, but also Crystal, Katie & Jennee’s mom, Glendene Grant.

      PLEASE, TO ALL MEDIA: March 29, 2010 is 4 years since Jessie went missing, please help me by printing an article about her case, perhaps including a picture or two. I am available anytime via email or home phone (I do not have a cell phone), PLEASE, call me – continue to help us find Jessie. Help us keep her name, picture and case in the minds of as many people as possible. Thank you very much. Sincerely, Glendene Grant.

  2. To all who read my previous comment – I apologize for my terrible language, but sometimes you just get so sick and tired of people who blame the victim for being a victim of a crime.

  3. You don’t have to apologize G. Some people can make a preacher cuss.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: