OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Assisting Victims of Labor Trafficking
Florrie Burke, Katherine Kaufka  -  2009/1/28
How can service providers effectively provide assistance to victims of trafficking when almost all of the victims are not U.S. citizens or may not be residents of the perspective state?
1.  Florrie Burke
 It is important that you be aware of the TVPA and TVRA and also find the agencies in your area that are service providers. OVC and ORR at HHS can give you that information.
2.  Katherine
 All victims of human trafficking are protected by criminal (and labor) laws in the United States, regardless of their legal status or birth of origin. Both US and foreign born (legal or illegal) victims are protected under U.S. anti-trafficking laws, and are eligible for services as crime victims. The major distinction is immigration protections, including special visas, which U.S. victims would not need or qualify for as they already have legal status. It should not matter which country or state a victim is from to provide services.
Ms. Kaufka, I am in the process of collaborating with a handful of others to create a statewide Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the how to successfully encourage law enforcement to partner with us on this.
1.  Florrie Burke
 The list of existing Task Forces funded by the Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Affairs should be on their website.--DOJ-BJA. I am not sure of the precise web address.
2.  Sherri Michel
 Is there a list of the existing task forces?
3.  Katherine
 Does your state have an anti-trafficking law or any recent cases? If so, a state law could be a rallying point for local law enforcement. One of the first questions most law enforcement agencies ask is, Is this a problem in my state (or district, city, etc.)? My response is that there have been documented cases (investigations andor prosecutions) in almost every US state - in big cities, small towns, and suburbs - so the likelihood of it happening in your state is high. Additionally, you could see if there is an existing human trafficking task force in your state, which would include law enforcement agencies already working on human trafficking cases. Currently, there are approximately 40 federally funded human trafficking task forces across the country that are comprised of local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as non-governmental service providers. The task force members could be allies in your campaign efforts. I would encourage any law enforcement agent or agency learning about HT also be provided with information on best practices in how to respond, specifically re victim services, protections, rights, and local service providers they can partner with for referrals. Good luck!
Ms. Burke, how was it working with enslaved persons? In which way did you help them?
1.  Florrie Burke
 Working with survivors of slavery is a challenge, but extremely gratifying work. Each case is different and the ways of helping can include providing concrete services like food and shelter to more extensive social and legal services. A good needs assessment is important and then linking the survivor to appropriate services is next.
I was wondering if you also work or collaborate with any domestic violence agencies; what we have seen is that some immigrant victims of domestic violence are also victims of human trafficking and vice versa.
1.  Florrie Burke
 There are similarities, but providers need to be sure that they understand the issues of immigrant survivors of trafficking. It is not always the best fit to house DV and trafficking victims together, but it is often the only alternative and one of the best available. It is key to have a case manager who knows about human trafficking available to the survivor and to offer technical assistance to the DV provider to be sure that the appropriate benefits and programs can be accessed. The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence has an excellent publication about the intersection of trafficking and DV.
2.  Katherine
 Yes - DV agencies can be allies in identifying human trafficking vicims. Often, victims may not self identify as victms of human trafficking, per se, but other types of crimes, such as domestic violence. I've seen this occur often in domestic servitude cases where psychological and physical abuse occur in the household. Outreach and training to area DV shelter and advocates can help improve identification of human trafficking cases and distinguish them from DV cases, as options for relief and protection will differ.
I would like to know if there is any training or seminars that deal with human trafficking.
1.  Katherine
 There are various training curriculums available on the topic of HT - it depends on who the audience is (law enforcement, service provider, medical, etc.) Florrie and I are both Co-Coordinators of the Freedom Network Training Institute, a comprehensive curriculum that addresses all forms of trafficking, idenfitication techniques, how to respond (law enforcement, service providers) and collaboration between NGOs and law enforcement. The US Dept of Justice has training programs for prosecutors and law enforcement, and various agencies and orgnazations also have their own training curriculum. Feel free to contact FNTI for more information.
Are statistics related labor trafficking available?
1.  Florrie Burke
 I do think that academics and others are being encouraged to do research that will yield better statistics. I think one of the problems is that no one has figured out the best method for doing so. I think some funds have been wasted as the reports tell us what we already know, not the real numbers. It may be that we will never really know due to the hidden nature of the crime.Yes, I think that anti-immigrant sentiment and ideas about the American work force definitely impact the work to stop human trafficking and to assist victims. There is still a demand for cheap labor around the globe and this creates an atmosphere where trafficking can occur.
2.  Florrie Burke
 This is almost impossible to answer-depends on the organization. These reports do not come in daily. Lots depends on how much effort is going into investigation and outreach.
3.  Florrie Burke
 Statistics are also gathered from Dept. of Justice --they count prosecutions. Health and Human Services counts certified victims, Vermont Service Center counts T Visas issued. For survivors who don't access these services or follow up on legal and immigration remedies--no count!
4.  Florrie Burke
 International Labor Organization- I apologize for the alphabet soup. Go to their website and you will find the report.
5.  Elise Garvey
 Does anyone know what is being done to encourage academics and professionals in the U.S. or abroad to work towards the goal of obtaining better statistics? Do you think preconceptions of foreign workers hold the anti-trafficking movement back from obtaining these statistics?
6.  cindyn
 Could you please tell me what the ILO stands for? Thanks!
7.  Stephen Allen
 I know a lot of people are hungry for data. This DOJ study from 2006 is interesting regarding trafficking victims from Latin America. http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/215475.pdf
8.  Jose Olivera
 What are the number of reports you guys get per day or annually?
9.  Naomi
 Are statistics even accurate? Other than cases identified through the police involvement, what are the statistics based on?
10.  Florrie Burke
 All statistics related to human trafficking are subject to interpretation. It has been difficult for researchers to get accurate numbers as the numbers are pulled from a variety of sources. Most of us think there are much higher numbers of trafficked persons than recorded. Many cases of labor trafficking are not recognized as such because investigators might not screen for trafficking, but look for labor violations or documents of residency only. Look at the reports from the ILO, the DOL, and other government reports to get some idea of the numbers being used.
I've been running into the same issue when helping clients find a job. The language barrier is pretty huge as we all know. I'm already enrolling my clients in basic education and ESL courses, along with any employment agencies I can find. I have one client who is Indonesian and unfortunately there is no indonesian community around here so he can't access an informal network to get jobs, and the job agencies have told me that he needs to know more english before they can be more help but he needs a job as soon as possible. Are there any avenues I am missing?
1.  Katherine
 This is always a challenge, and one I think others on this forum have faced. It sounds like you're starting at the right place with ESL and local employment agencies. Victims of trafficking are elgible for US Dept of Labor job training programs. Foreign trafficking victims are treated as refugees under the TVPA. You can try contacting refugee resettlement agencies or state refugee coordinator for information about job training programs in your area.
2.  Florrie Burke
 In addition to the government programs, there are programs in communities that assist with ESL classes etc. This is a major challenge. Immigrant serving orgs. can sometimes help find jobs that do not require a lot of language. Many programs have been successful in placing survivors of labor trafficking in minimum wage jobs, but now that is more difficult in this economic climate and we all will find it harder to get resources for our clients.
3.  Stacey
 Here is another ESL resource for free online classes. http://www.USALearns.org
Are there different types of labor trafficking?
1.  Florrie Burke
 There are as many types of labor trafficking as there are types of labor. Trafficking cases have been discovered in factories, fields, restaurants, nursing homes, hotels, construction, plant nurseries, peddling, private homes, ranches, etc. There is also trafficking into bars, strip clubs, etc. that is considered labor trafficking.
Where do you go for assistance with trafficking victims besides Law Enforcement?
1.  Katherine
 Florrie's responsed to a previous question with resources - rcontacting the Dept of Health & HUman Services, OFfice of REfugee Resettlement and OVC to find local service provders with experience providing services to human trafficking victims. If the victim is foreign, I would also recommend contacting an experienced immigration attorney before contacting law enforcement. I would recommend that service providers should be contacted first (unless emergency/victim's safety is at risk). The trafficking victim may or may not be inclined to contact or work with law enforcement.
2.  Florrie Burke
 It is important to line up advocates who might provide services-these can be OVC and HHS grantees, but also are immigrant rights groups, workers rights groups, community based and faith based orgs that have some experience with human trafficking cases. Health care providers should also be part of a response. It is a good idea for cities to have a coalition of providers who are known to one another so that when there is a case, there are people ready to respond. Crime victim providers are key players as well. Survivors need to be stabilized and have all their options available to them prior to going to law enforcement. If law enforcement discovers the case, they will need to know which providers are available for service delivery.
Good afternoon, and thanks for taking part in this discussion. Do either of you have any advice for advocating to ICE on behalf of labor trafficking clients? We have found they they are less likely to open or pursue an investigation in these cases.
1.  Katherine
 One more thought - if you know of similar cases that have been prosecuted in other states, sending information (press releases, complaints, etc.) to your local ICE agents might help as well.
2.  Katherine
 If the avenues that Florrie covered don't work (local AUSA, DOL), the US Dept of JUstice Human Trafficking Unit in DC can also be of assistance, or the Victim Witness Coordinator for ICE out of Headquarters. It might also be a training issue, where your local ICE requires more information and training on the TVPA and TVPRA (sometimes actually sending them the statutes and language in the regulations may help). Good luck!
3.  Florrie Burke
 The best advice I can give is to also have an AUSA on board with a potential labor case. That person can then lean on ICE also. In some locales ICE has been really responsive to labor cases if they have the time and resources to investigate. DOL is a good partner too and will often work with ICE to scope out a situation so that ICE feels it is worth their while.
This issue does not seem to get much attention in Albany, NY. I would imagine that in reality, there is a problem here as well. Why do you think this issue is going undetected? Or is it?
1.  Florrie Burke
 There have been several trainings in Albany NY so there should be a general awareness of trafficking issues. Additionally, there is a response to the NY State Law led by two state agencies, DCJS and OTDA. (I apologize to non New Yorkers.) You are right that it is happening in that region. As we all know, many cases are operating under the radar and are not identified or are identified as something other than human trafficking.
I am currently in the last semester of my Masters in Social Work degree and have chosen to focus on trauma and victim services as a specialty. From your experience in the field, what have you identified as key barriers to helping victims of labor trafficking, specifically relating to law enforcement and counseling agencies?
1.  Florrie Burke
 Agencies need to have skilled case managers or social workers who can do a good intake and needs assessment. To me it is a barrier to providing the necessary help when the interviewer does not understand the complexities of modern day slavery. When working in this field, one must know the law, immigration relief, trauma. crime victim issues, the judicial process etc. in order to provide options and information to survivors. Good luck in your chosen field.
In your experience, can you identify any specific strategies that are effective in working with victims of labor trafficking vs. sex trafficking? Are best practices consistent for these sub-sets of individuals?
1.  Florrie Burke
 This is a difficult question to answer. We know that each survivor is different and the needs are varied. Depending on the labor situation, whether or not physical or sexual abuse has been utilized as a punishment or method of control--all this will influence the service plan. Some survivors of labor trafficking are just wanting to get back to work and think they were in a bad job. They may not be interested in extensive social services or legal remedies. Careful needs assessments can show that medical attention is necessary, an understanding of the law and one's rights is vital and a job assessment and readiness programs can help determine what a person is interested in and what is available. I have found that there are differences, but much of this depends on the skills and basic psychological make up of a person. I would caution providers to really look carefully at all survivors as they will not readily reveal the extent of their current needs.
Can you address the challenge of identifying child victims subjected to labor trafficking and the different ways force, fraud, or coercion may be recognized as compared to working with adult victims? Please share any promising practices.
1.  Katherine
 Also, the ways force, fraud, or coercion may manifest themselves differently for children. Remember that these terms are subjective. Sometimes, for children, the power dynamics between the adult and child may influence what fraud or coercion is. For example, because Aunty told me to do it may be just as impactful as he told me he was going to hit me if I didn't. One of the other challenges with child victim is the way trauma affects a child's ability to tell their story and participate in service plan or in a criminal case - I would advise working with experts in the field.
2.  Katherine
 This is a great question. There is much emphasis on sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation, with task forces and agents tasked with proactively investigation of these cases, while labor cases may not receive the same resources. Working with the Dept of Labor, EEOC, and labor rights groups is important in address child victims subject to labor trafficking. Additionally, training and advocacy with state child protective services, who are often the first point of contact for abuse and neglect cases (which would include child trafficking) is another way to improve identification of child trafficking victims.
Particularly in labor cases, it is likely that law enforcement will encounter male victims. Since historically most victims of human trafficking are female (in my experience), I'm curious as to what you view as any special considerations for male trafficking victims. Thanks.
1.  Katherine
 To add to the previous comments, I think because of the perception that victims are usually female, boys and men sometimes get overlooked. I've worked with boys who encountered several first responders (i.e. local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, govt agency, service provider, etc.)before being identified as a victim of human trafficking.
2.  Rissa
 thanks, that's quite a helpful answer. I came from a domestic violence and feminist background so mostly I've only read up on how trafficking affects women. it's easy to overlook the dynamics that are specific to males and their perceived role in society.
3.  Florrie Burke
 Please also look at a previous response about the differences with sex trafficking and labor trafficking survivors. I am glad you asked the question as male victims are often overlooked. They have issues of responsibility to family back home (females do also) and they have often suffered severe shame for being duped into a situation. This occurs with women too, but the effects often show up differently. Male victims do well if they are able to learn about the law and about their rights. They are often not comfortable receiving social services, but do have practical needs that must be attended to. Engaging them as full partners with a lot of control over their service plan is helpful. Finding emergency housing is a challenge and we need to be careful to avoid putting them in danger (homeless shelters.) Many male survivors have been able to become advocates and labor activists as a way to cope with their situation. I do not in any way mean to impart a sexist response here. I used some generalizations. I do, however, see differences in a response to male survivors. Cultural considerations are key.
Assessing whether or not a person is a victim can be difficult. Initially, a tip may not sound like a trafficking case but all the facts have not emerged. What is the best method for assessing a case and insuring a victim doesn't "slip through the cracks?"
1.  A.C.H
 Who is the best agency to contact if you are aware of a situation reguarding at the very least serious labor law violations but could include labor & or human trafficking, when your local jurisdicion is hesitant to investigate further due to political intrests?
2.  Katherine
 I think this depends on the circumstances - is the tip here coming from a third party? Is it a call from a potential trafficking survivor? Often, an intake or screening may take several conversations to determine best course of action.
Do most of the survivors you have worked with desire help in finding job, education, social services, etc., or do they want to be left alone? I know many foreign born survivors may want to go back home.
1.  Katherine
 My experience has been that most survivors want to work again. However, survivors may identify different wants and needs at various points in the process. For example, many foreign victims I worked with stated they wanted to go home early in the identification process (i.e. after a raid, etc.) because it seemed like a better place vs. the detention center, jail, etc. that they were. Or, they want to go home because they are worried about getting arrested or worried about the safety of a family member- without knowing their options for remaining in the US (short and long term).
2.  Florrie Burke
 Again, each survivor is different. Most, if not all, want to be working again. This is why they came here and this is a major goal. Many do not know what kinds of employment may be available to them. Not all want social services, but many do. Again, a good needs assessment is the key. Establishing a good relationship with a provider will help them identify what is available. Needs will come out over time. A few may want to be left alone, but usually that is a quick response and not reflective of what they really need. Most survivors do not understand what it is they are being offered in terms of services. Many of them do NOT want to return home out of fear, humiliation, the understanding that the same conditions of desperation and poverty will be there etc. For those who want to return, it is their choice and providers should work with IOM and others to facilitate this.
Do you know of any human trafficking cases in Wyoming?
1.  safehaven
 Is there truth that over 100,000. women and children are traffic in the US alone ?
2.  Katherine
 Not off the top of my head, but there have been investigations or prosecutinos by the US Dept of Justice in almost every US state.
What changes, if any, would you like to see happen on the Federal level regarding this topic? Do you think Obama being in office will make a difference?
1.  Katherine
 The TVPRA 2008 was signed into law in Dec 2008. It provides enhancements for victim protections, greater transparency and accountability re funding, and sentencing enhancements (plus more - too much to type)! I hope that this administration will uphold enhancements to the TVPA, and keep agencies responsible for various provisions of the Act accountable.
2.  Florrie Burke
 We see advances already being made since the recent reauthorization of the federal law. President Obama has rescinded a previous directive that prohibited any agency receiving federal funds in other countries from working on reproductive rights. This is helpful for those NGOs in source and transit countries to do their prevention work on human trafficking. There needs to be better accountability, more transparency and more attention to the issue here in the U.S. and we are hopeful it will happen with the new administration.
3.  Rissa
 On that note, I heard that a new TVPA was signed just recently. Do you see any issues that might come up with the new one?
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