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Faces of Human Trafficking Video 3: An Introduction to Labor Trafficking

This video provides an overview of labor trafficking. It features survivors and professionals—including law enforcement, judges, social service, legal and health care providers—who share information on victim indicators, ways victims are often identified, how professionals may come into contact with victims of labor trafficking, and industries where labor trafficking is more common.

Faces of Human Trafficking: An Introduction to Labor Trafficking TRANSCRIPT

Lydia, Survivor Advocate: I am a labor trafficking survivor. I came as a religious visa, so I was there for this leader. I was not given a salary. I was told to take care of their grandchildren. I was with them 24 hours, so I was sleeping in the same room with the children. I got out from this situation in 2003. And then I was scared to be undocumented. When I came to Damayan, they treated you as a warm family.

Leah Obias, Campaigns Coordinator, Damayan Migrant Workers Association: Damayan is an organization of Filipino migrant workers. The people that we serve work as nannies, elderly caregivers, house cleaners, personal assistants, and other work in private households. We’re really looking to reach workers who maybe have experienced trafficking or who are in the best position to meet trafficked workers. Labor trafficking is when one person holds or obtains another person in coerced or forced labor. It’s the individual employer or trafficker who’s forcing, coercing, manipulating a worker, so the indicators that we see are usually of threats, passport and other identification theft. It’s usually restricted movement, restricted communication.

Robert Canino, Regional Attorney, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: For a case of trafficking, what we’re usually going to be looking for are signs that the workers don’t have a freedom to move about. They aren’t getting paid for the work that they’re performing. Maybe they don’t have identifying documents. They’re being made to live in substandard living conditions. They may be skilled or unskilled laborers, young or old, male or female.

Woman: I never heard them complain. You know, it didn’t cross my mind that they were being abused.

Man: When you’d ask the boys, "How’s it going," none of them ever said, "Well, this happened to me, or this happened to me," or whatever.

Robert Canino: We had a case, and it involved the apparent exploitation of American workers, and they were adults with intellectual disabilities. They were transported from Texas to a turkey processing plant in Iowa. For approximately 35 years, these adults were working for a company, for at least 40 hours per week, but only being paid $65 a month. They were hidden away from much of the world. These men were punished in cruel ways. And so, after 35 or 40 years of blood, sweat, and tears, when these men were finally rescued, they had nothing to show for it. What we find in a case like that, even involving people with intellectual disabilities, is that the things that make them vulnerable are the very same things that you might see in a case involving foreign workers.

Miguel Keberlein, Supervisory Attorney, Illinois Migrant Legal Assistant Project: The same type of force and coercion that a shackle would be is the same kind of mental anguish they’re going through with some of the things that a trafficker might threaten them with.

Keith Bickford, Detective, Multnomah Sheriff’s Office, Oregon: In order to build any kind of relationship, you have to go out to them.

Woman: ...taking this information back and utilizing your strengths...

Keith Bickford: I’m talking about everything from working with the social service providers, the clinics, the churches—anywhere where labor trafficking victims may go for strength or for help, that’s where law enforcement should be reaching out and proving that we’re serious about helping.

Miguel Keberlein: The Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project provides free legal services to migrant and seasonal farm workers. When we do specific outreach, we go to labor camps. Many times they have basic questions like, "Where is there a church that might have a service in Spanish?" And those open up lines of communication and talk with us.

¿Es mas duro trabajando empaquedora que en la cosecha o no?

Usually, by the second or third time, you’ll get a sense of, are there some deeper issues here that are going on?

Julie Gray, Former ICE Special Agent: I think it all starts by being a good listener and letting them know that you are going to try to do whatever you can to help.

Ronny, Survivor Advocate: I met my trafficker back in my country, Dominican Republic. They offer us job in United States working in hotels. When we came here, what happened is, there was not such a job like that. They got us a job in DVD manufacturing company. We already invest a lot of money to come, so we had to accept the job, and we did. But he treated us like we were no one. We were living in a one-bedroom apartment, and it was three people living there. My paycheck every week was, like, $39. When we were in that situation, people could see us. We were hard-working in that company. Nobody noticed anything. And then we met Catholic Charity person, and we explained her our situation, so she contacted one agent from ICE.

Julie Gray: Ronny had so many concerns. That was the biggest trust barrier to get over—to let him know that I am genuinely concerned for you and your friends and coworkers and for your families.

Ronny: They made it all possible to bring my wife and my two kids. I got a job, thanks to the people that were out there to help me. But they changed our lives. I mean, they save us. And I can tell you now because I’m a survivor of human trafficking, yeah.

Date Created: May 4, 2020