Labor trafficking is a modern form of slavery with a goal to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Labor traffickers commit both civil and criminal violations, from illegal pay deductions and no meal breaks to threat and use of violence and law. At times, labor trafficking coincides with illegal immigration, thus despite the severity of the violations, victim reporting is low. Foreign nationals decide to stay despite poor working conditions in fear of deportation. Even US citizens experience this – due to circumstances beyond their control, they become victims of human trafficking and forced labor.
Colleen Owens is an expert on human trafficking spearheading research initiatives with the US Department of State, National Institute of Justice, and Bureau of Justice Assistance. She is the Founder and CEO of THE WHY, a non-profit organization focusing on the issue of modern slavery and empowering its survivors. Kaitlin Seale is the program manager of the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign that brings awareness and combats human trafficking through partnerships with various entities including law enforcement and government agencies as well as private organizations.
Colleen and Kaitlin are this webinar’s esteemed course speakers to provide an overview, research findings and other efforts to combat labor trafficking. Some of the points that they highlighted in the course include
- A discussion of the research results from the study Understanding the Organization, Operation and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States.
- The studies’ objectives, methodology, sampling, and limitations.
- The top 6 home countries of the victims of labor trafficking.
- Major demographics of the victims including gender, age group, industries deployed into, and immigration status.
- The process of recruitment and movement that the victims went through characterized by fraud, coercion, and even financial extortion.
- A rundown of the common civil and criminal violations that traffickers commit in labor exploitation and trafficking.
- The escape experiences of survivors and the reasons why they do not self-report to law enforcement.
- The suspect characteristics based on demographics and the types of violations that they commit.
- Recommendations that the study puts forth that focuses on raising awareness, training, and education and reexamining and reforming policies, programs, and requirements.
- An overview of the Blue Campaign project of the US DHS following the UN’s Blue Heart Campaign.
- The various agencies and government components that work together to curb labor trafficking.
- Blue Campaign’s definition of human trafficking and its indicators.
- The development of legislation over time from the Thirteenth Amendment, case laws, to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), and Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA).
- Defining forced labor through its four prohibited means of force/restraint, threats/serious harm, abuse of process and coercive scheme.
- The Blue Campaign’s mission and the different channels and materials that they use to raise awareness, train and educate people on the issue of human trafficking.
- Colleen and Kaitlin answered the audience’s queries and concerns during the Q&A that covers:
- Expanding the study’s analysis and findings
- Linking labor trafficking of foreign nationals to the home country’s economy
- The home countries’ efforts in educating their people about labor trafficking
- Challenges law enforcement face related to labor trafficking
- How the ICE tip line coordinates and collaborates with law enforcement
- The probability of deportation following a rejected application for a T visa
- The Blue Campaigns’ efforts to train other advocates about labor trafficking