Meeting Legal Needs of Adult and Minor Victims of Human Trafficking
Jean Bruggeman, Robin Hassler Thompson  -  2013/3/6
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
How are different jurisdictions addressing the issue of keeping the minor victims in a placement so services can be provided without finding the minor victims delinquent or guilty of some crime?
 
1.  Craig Hargrow
 Thanks
 
2.  Robin
 Hi Craig. I’ll also add that the issue requires that people in the jurisdiction sit down and try to work out the issues that law enforcement has with the open door policies. Many are frustrated that they see the same youth back on the streets so quickly and still in danger. If you have a local task force or other coordinating body, try adding this to the agenda and see if there are ways to work it out or come closer to a solution. For instance, making it a presumption that you don’t arrest, but instead work with service providers to find a good placement. I also think if law enforcement understands more of what effective programs look like, they will be more likely to avoid arrest. As ever, this is a process.
 
3.  Jean Bruggeman
 Craig- As you might expect, there are a range of approaches. Most programs serving trafficked youth are providing services with an open door policy. They report that youth often move in and out of services several times before committing to the program. It strikes me as very similar to the findings in domestic violence services: victims leave and return to an abuser multiple times before breaking the cycle. According to federal law, any minor involved in the commercial sex industry is a victim, as well as any minor forced to provide labor or services through force, fraud or coercion; so juvenile justice, law enforcement, and victim services are trying new approaches to provide appropriate services and care.
 
 
What unique legal needs do victims of labor trafficking present? And, to the extent that the service needs are unique, is it preferable to have a specialized program (or at least a dedicated and specialized attorney) to meet the legal needs of that population?
 
1.  Robin
 part 2 This can mean also working with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in your area. Here’s the web address for human trafficking and EEO law in general: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/interagency/trafficking.cfm Understanding the trauma associated with sexual violence for these victims, and offering services and assistance, is also very important.
 
2.  Robin
 Hi Sarah. I would also add that even if there is labor trafficking – not sex trafficking- as the first issue, you should also assist women with issues around sexual violence. Because of their vulnerability as women, they may be working in the fields by day and be raped by the crew bosses at night. Or imagine the vulnerability of domestic workers. Severe sexual harassment or outright sexual violence is possible. Therefore, linking with lawyers who are familiar with sexual harassment as well as other employment law remedies issues is crucial.
 
3.  Jean Bruggeman
 There are few attorneys who can represent a client in the full range of legal issues presented, but a specialized program or attorney is generally better able to spot all of these issues, understand how they are interrelated, and collaborate with other attorneys/programs to ensure that all of the client’s needs are being met. OVC currently provides funding for such specialized legal services programs. For current providers, see the OVC website at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/grants/traffickingmatrix.html
 
4.  Jean Bruggeman
 Sarah- Labor trafficking victims, most generally, present employment law questions front and center. This can range from wage and hour violations, to employment discrimination claims, to a civil human trafficking claim. Foreign nationals may also need representation in immigration issues, and there is a visa designed specifically for victims of human trafficking- called the T Visa. Additionally, there may be family law issues, housing, public benefits, identity theft, just about the full range of civil legal issues! And on top of all of that, if there is a prosecution of the trafficker, enforcement of victim rights in the criminal trial. And in some cases, the victim might be facing criminal charges which may be related to the trafficking scheme.
 
 
In your experience, to what extent do trauma symptoms inhibit victims of trafficking as they seek legal services or participate in investigation and prosecution? What should lawyers be aware of in terms of trauma as they work with these victims?
 
1.  Robin
 On this issue, Sarah, I’d add that making sure that the lawyers are working closely with the victim advocate on a regular basis is really important – in addition to what Jean suggests in terms of the multi-disciplinary teams. Making sure you have permission to share info with one another (that the client has given a limited waiver of privilege), if the client wishes, can help the lawyer to represent her well and can also inform the advocate of what is going on with the case. And this can help that advocate to find the best counseling or other program help that can best assist that survivor to heal and cope with what is going on with his or her case or just be there at key moments like in deposition or at trial. This is all done on a case-by-case basis. Ongoing communication is key.
 
2.  Jean Bruggeman
 Attorneys can take the following actions to better serve trauma-impacted clients: create a physically comfortable space for working with clients, allow them to bring a support person for as much of the appointment as possible, allow for frequent breaks, expect some omissions and confusion of details of traumatic events, and keep questions simple and concrete especially when clients seem stressed or confused. Attorneys should form multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that human trafficking clients receive the full scope of services and support. Clients may benefit from mental health services, yoga or meditation classes, or meetings with a cultural or religious support person.
 
3.  Jean Bruggeman
 Sarah- Trauma can have a tremendous impact on trafficking survivors, in both the immediate aftermath and during the long-term recovery process. Many experience PTSD, which can cause intrusive memories or flashbacks, avoidance of those memories or anything that triggers those memories, and anxiety. These clients might be unable or unwilling to discuss the trafficking situation in detail, or the details may change with each interview. Clients may be depressed, suicidal, or self-medicating. Attorneys should be aware of these impacts and always assess the client for symptoms.
 
 
Is there data on the prevalence of trafficking among foster youth (current or former)? Are there initiatives underway to address trafficking risks among this population?
 
1.  Robin
 part 3 There are many other resources there. I think both CT and IL have also done work within their child protective services offices to address the trafficking of children under state care.
 
2.  Robin
 Part 2 DCF as an institution started work to institutionalize training and has developed protocols and standards regarding human trafficking and commercial exploitation of minors. (This is under more human trafficking links and then under resources for professionals-child protection investigators. A little hard to find.) http://centerforchildwelfare2.fmhi.usf.edu/kb/DCF_Pol/FamilyຈSafetyຈCFOPຏs/175-14HumanTrafficking2013.pdf Here’s a link to their website. http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/human-trafficking You can see specific documents such as the “Information Kit”.
 
3.  Robin
 Hello Connie: I don’t have data but there have been news stories here in Florida about the targeting of youth in state foster care. Here’s an article on this issue from from last July. http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=536922 Since then the head of The Dept. of Children and Families (DCF) acknowledged that pimps/traffickers are targeting youth in foster care in Florida.
 
4.  Jean Bruggeman
 Connie- The Department of Health and Human Services is working on developing a host of new initiatives to better support child welfare systems in identifying and responding to human trafficking among the youth that they serve. Stay tuned for a new federal strategic action plan on services for victims of human trafficking in the US to be released for public comment in April. It includes some great new collaborations to identify and support trafficked kids.
 
 
How do you know if non-profits working to end human trafficking in the US or in other nations are making progress in identifying and assisting victims and not misusing or diverting funds?
 
1.  Robin Thompson
 Thanks Bernat. On the issue of working with IPV programs, you have to be careful. The needs of IPV and trafficking survivors can overlap but can also be very different. Some dv shelters have separate facilities, rules and programs.See this resource for dv advocates working with trafficking survivors. http://www.apiidv.org/files/Trafficking-Considerations.Recs-APIIDV-2012.pdf
 
2.  Bernat
 Thank you. I ask not because I distrust the checks and balances associated with getting and keeping non-profit status; it is because I have heard that some international NGOs have misrepresented the number of girls identified as trafficking victims. It is hard to identify trafficking victims, and I just wondered how agencies are evaluated. And, in the US - due to low numbers, some shelters are combining trafficking services with IPV services. Your points about working specifically with agencies is, of course, the best way - and we can check on reports too. Best.
 
3.  Robin
 Hello Bernat: If you are asking in order to know whether to support or refer a survivor you can do a web search or just ask them if they are currently receiving funding from sources, such as DOJ, and contact that agency and ask about their work. You can also reach out to professionals in the human trafficking area in your own community to see if they know and trust a certain organization. Freedom Network USA is a very good anti-trafficking organization. Their members are knowledgeable and are listed on the website. http://freedomnetworkusa.org/ The annual Dept. of State Trafficking in Persons report lists other countries’ activities in this area if you need to see what is being done worldwide. http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/
 
4.  Jean Bruggeman
 Bernat- In my opinion, as a former non-profit director, the best way to know about the impact of any non-profit you choose to support is to get involved with the organization. Visit, volunteer, attend their events, read their newsletters and annual reports! Additionally, the funders of non-profits in the US are emphasizing results, also known as outcome measures. Non-profits are generally required to submit reports to their funders showing how many clients were served, and what impact the services had on the clients. The US government requires quite detailed reports of all clients served through the various human trafficking funding streams. There are quite a few checks and balances out there, but the best way to know about the impact of the organization is to get involved!
 
 
Please describe some scenarios where trafficking victims may need help from someone with experience in public benefits law, and where I might look in my community for this service?
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 Mary- Traffickers often take control of the identity documents (passport, driver’s license, state ID) of their victims. Some traffickers use these documents to steal public benefits issued to the victims. When victims escape the trafficking situation, they may need an attorney to assist them in addressing this identity theft. Even if the traffickers did not abuse their documents, survivors may still struggle to get access to needed benefits if they do not have possession of their identity documents, or otherwise have difficulty proving their eligibility. Robin is right, generally, the local legal aid provider (http://www.lsc.gov/find-legal-aid) can help with these issues or programs that specialize in serving trafficking victims (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/grants/traffickingmatrix.html).
 
2.  Robin
 part 2 For US citizen survivors, they are also a resource here. Here’s an article on the topic that you could share with your local legal services provider: http://povertylaw.pbworks.com/w/page/17976121/RepresentingຈImmigrantsŵAຈWhatຈDoຈLSCຈRegulationsຈAllow You can also see if there are pro bono attorneys in your area who will take a case. Finally, see the OVC Directory for a great list of many service providers, including legal services: https://www.ovcttac.gov/downloads/TTADirectory/HT_TTA_Directory_508c_12-5-12_FINAL.pdf
 
3.  Robin
 Hi Mary, I would recommend that you contact your local legal services organization. They are experts in public benefits and are allowed specifically to represent victims of human trafficking, and domestic and sexual violence even if the immigrant client is undocumented.
 
 
Where can attorneys get information, training and technical assistance with regard to victim's rights enforcement, particularly for victims involved in criminal cases against their traffickers?
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 Mary- There is a growing body of work supporting crime victims’ rights. A great place to start is The National Crime Victims Law Institute http://law.lclark.edu/centers/national_crime_victim_law_institute/ which provides training and technical assistance to attorney’s representing crime victims in enforcing their rights. For cases in federal courts, another great resource is the Crime Victims’ Rights Ombudsman at the Department of Justice, http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/vr/index.html. The Ombudsman’s website also has information about the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004. Another resource is the National Crime Victim Bar Association: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/national-crime-victim-bar-association/for-victims.
 
2.  Robin
 Hi Mary, In terms of victim’s rights, you should know that recovery and rights enforcement can take place on both the criminal and civil side of the justice system. Restitution is mandatory in all human trafficking cases. However, even if ordered by a judge, it can be hard to collect and an advocate/attorney should work with and be diligent about doing all possible to collect any ordered funds. On the civil side, the federal law under the TVPRA, allows for a civil right of action. Many states provide for civil remedies too. You can look to the OVC Directory for this information. https://www.ovcttac.gov/downloads/TTADirectory/HT_TTA_Directory_508c_12-5-12_FINAL.pdf
 
 
What are some good publications that address this topic in a way that may also be helpful for victim advocates and other service providers?
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 To add to Robin's list, you can check the HHS Rescue and Restore Campaign website for outreach and education materials www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/programs/anti-trafficking; the DHS Blue Campaign for information on immigration remedies www.dhs.gov/topic/human-trafficking and this ABA publication on the legal needs of children www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/2011_build/domestic_violence/child_trafficking.authcheckdam.pdf
 
2.  Robin
 For advocates and service providers: A manual we did in Florida on representing children who are victims of trafficking was written with both service providers/advocates and lawyers in mind: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/humantrafficking/docs/LegalBestPracticesOct2009.pdf The ABA has done a manual too that is good: http://apps.americanbar.org/humanrights/docs/project_docs/DV_Trafficking.pdf The 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report from the Dept. of State has a feature on overall issues: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/126793.pdf
 
 
What are some best practices for Universities or colleges to obtain funding for victim service programming that is collaborative with law enforcement and community service providers? Are there any long-term models of sustainable college-hosted programs to look to at this time?
 
1.  R Monaco-Wilcox
 Thank you both! We're hosting programming that links survivor testimony to chaging policy, coordinating with law enforcement, and creating platforms for support for family members, but are hoping to bring the legal clinic model to bear as well. http://www.mtmary.edu/untold-stories.html is our link, but I know I need to do more to coordinate to fill priority gaps. Here in Milwaukee our biggest challenge is probably housing for victims that adapts to their specialized cases. Its so helpful to have this forum-- thank you.
 
2.  Jean Bruggeman
 Another model is a growing number of law school legal clinics that are providing representation to trafficking victims, and working in collaboration with other providers. U of Michigan and Boston University have human trafficking specific programs, other schools provide representation to trafficking victims as a part of their immigration or worker’s rights clinics.
 
3.  Robin
 St. Thomas University College of Law has conducted a Human Trafficking Academy and continues to focus on this issue. This effort has included local law enforcement and service providers. The Academy took place last July but the focus on human trafficking continues. Here's the website for more information http://www.stu.edu/law/LLMPrograms/LLMJSDinInterculturalHumanRights/HUMANTRAFFICKINGACADEMY/tabid/3759/Default.aspx
 
 
How does law enforcement determine that this is a human trafficking case? Are there code designations in case reports?
 
1.  Robin
 I would also add to Jean's ideas that human trafficking cases generally take a long time to work. Whether it is because there are hours of surveillance, interviews, review of financial documents or piecing together the elements of a criminal conspiracy, trafficking cases require good, solid and often longer term investigations.
 
2.  Jean Bruggeman
 Velma- Of course all investigations are different, but generally law enforcement will be looking for the key legal requirements. Federal law includes a host of criminal charges related to both labor and sex trafficking, and now state laws in all 50 states do as well. The investigation may identify a trafficking case, but for a variety of reasons it may be charged or plead down to a different offense. There are now codes for human trafficking in most legal systems. For example, human trafficking crimes were added to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting or UCR just this year.
 
 
What are the most common civil legal needs of adult and minor victims of human trafficking? To what extent are these needs satisfied or not by existing civil legal assistance?
 
1.  Robin
 Juveniles, whether US citizens or non-US citizens will have yet another set of legal needs. Non US citizen minors may be eligible for relief specific to their age - special immigrant juvenile status. US citizen minors may need help negotiating the foster care system. For this reason, I always say we are hard pressed to say ANY area of the law would be exempt from helping trafficking survivors.
 
2.  Robin
 part 2 The civil legal manual done by Kim and Werner (see the question above from Mary regarding attorney resources for that manual). There are many aspects to civil recovery. I have also seen where family law is important, for minor victims or adults where the victim may have gotten pregnant from the trafficker and needs help on custody issues as well as with obtaining a protection order. There are many needs and so a team of lawyers is often needed.
 
3.  Robin Thompson
 Hi Marny, Each case is so different, so it is hard to say which are the most common civil legal needs of adult and minor victims. Overall, the civil side usually is going to focus on obtaining a recovery of lost wages, damages and other economic needs of the victim. Enforcement of criminal restitution orders can fall on the civil side as well, so it would depend on if there was a criminal case and if restitution was ordered. Immigration assistance is also an important aspect of civil representation. Immigration benefits can include legal status through relief such as the T visa as well as mean that a survivor could petition for family members to come to the US. There may have been discrimination so civil rights and EEOC claims would be important.
 
 
What is the legal community doing to ensure attorneys (and judges) in all practice areas, including and beyond prosecution and immigration, are trained in human trafficking? Access is supposed to be available through local bar associations for pro bono attorneys or legal aid societies; however, victims report that actually being provided capable pro bono services from attorneys is extremely difficult to nearly impossible.
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 As other questions and responses have indicated, the legal issues related to human trafficking are complex and varied. There are ongoing training and technical assistance projects through NLADA, the ABA, local bar associations, local providers, and federal agencies including DHS, DOJ, DOL and HHS. OVC is currently funding specialized legal services for trafficking victims (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/grants/traffickingmatrix.html) and has several projects in development to support expanded access to legal services for all crime victims, including victims of human trafficking.
 
 
I work for a small non-profit, and by request we will be putting together a 1-day conference on the topic of human trafficking, primarily with the target audience of state social workers. As this is a new arena for me, I was wondering if you have any suggestions for speakers or resources that would be helpful. Social workers are asking for information about how to best identify and then help victims of trafficking.
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 I heartily concur! There are some great speakers with experience in training on these issues. You might also look for the nearest trafficking-specific service provider and partner with them in this effort. The list of OVC funded providers is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/grants/traffickingmatrix.html
 
2.  Robin
 OVC through its TTAC has a host of great trainers and experts who could assist you. You can look to the OVC Directory for this information. https://www.ovcttac.gov/downloads/TTADirectory/HT_TTA_Directory_508c_12-5-12_FINAL.pdf.
 
 
How might an attorney approach a case differently when assisting a minor victim of trafficking as opposed to an adult?
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 When working with a minor, there may be additional systems to coordinate with. There may be a Guardian ad Litem appointed to look out for the best interests of the child throughout the process. The emotional and physical needs of the child may be different- different therapists, housing providers, or medical providers may be needed. Different legal remedies may be available, especially in the field of immigration. Obviously, attorneys must always be sensitive to the emotional and psychological needs of their clients, but this is especially true when working with minors.
 
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