This organization works on all forms of human trafficking and serves victims of slavery and human trafficking.
Total Signals to Date: 115,238
Total Signals from February: 3,117
Many of the victims of human trafficking we speak to at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center arrive in the United States with temporary work visas, and are trafficked by recruiters, labor contractors, employers and others.
In 11 percent of all labor trafficking cases reported to the NHTRC, victims held work visas. The most frequently cited work visas were the H-2B visa for temporary or seasonal labor, J-1 visa, a cultural exchange visas for work and study in the U.S., the H-2A visa designed for temporary agricultural work and the A3 and G5 visas for domestic work.
These visa holders are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking because their legal status in the U.S. is tied directly to the employer who sponsors their visa. For visa holders who are victims of trafficking, they may be reluctant to seek help, report a dangerous work situation, or leave their job. For traffickers, it is an easy opportunity to exploit workers, as the traffickers are aware that if the worker leaves the job and stays in the United States, he or she will lose valid immigration status. For agricultural workers, rural work can mean isolation and lack of transportation and access to services. For domestic workers, long hours, controlled communication and physical isolation make it difficult to reach out for help. In all cases, language and cultural barriers can present hurdles for victims.
For Antonio, who came to the United States with an H2-A visa, help came when he realized he had somewhere to call:
Antonio, a young man from Colombia, obtained an H2-A visa and came to the U.S. to work on a tomato farm in Florida. The recruiters in Colombia promised to take care of his H-2A visa application to ensure that Antonio could legally enter and work in the U.S. They described good living conditions and promised he would make enough money to send home to his family. Upon his arrival, Antonio realized that the conditions were very different than he was promised. He lived in a rundown building along with many other employees. He was required to work every day of the week for extremely long hours. He witnessed two other employees being physically assaulted for taking a break. Antonio wanted to leave, but felt as if he had nowhere to go. The owner of the company had taken his passport and visa and refused to give it back to him. The employer threatened to call the police and immigration if Antonio or any of the other workers tried to leave. Once when a manager took him and two other employees into town to purchase food, Antonio tried to ask a passerby for assistance. He was reprimanded and told not to talk to others. After Antonio was physically assaulted on the job by one of his managers, he made the decision to escape. He had memorized the NHTRC hotline number from the Know Your Rights Pamphlet issued by the Department of State. He called the hotline to report the situation and request referrals. The NHTRC reported the situation to specialized law enforcement and a local service provider, who provided shelter and legal services to Antonio. An investigation was later opened and the service provider was able to assist other victims in exiting the situation options.
To understand the scope of trafficking cases across the United States, we are sharing National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Human Trafficking and Visas Report. This report, covering more than six years of NHTRC data, is a snapshot into the industries, visas, and nationalities of victims affected by human trafficking.
*Vignettes are representative of the types of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline and are meant for informational purposes only. Names, locations, and other identifying information have been changed and/or omitted to preserve the confidentiality of the people we serve.
The following content was drawn from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center monthly newsletter. For more information, please call the NHTRC at 1-888-373-7888, text the short code BeFree (233733), or visit the NHTRC at traffickingresourcecenter.org.