Breaking Ground Against Modern-Day Slavery
“Alleged sex-trade ring broken up in Bay Area.” – San Francisco Chronicle, July 2, 2005.
“Major crackdown on human trafficking, Feds make Northern California focus of new effort.” --San Francisco Chronicle, September 30, 2004
What these newspaper headlines don’t reveal is the emotionally difficult and legally complicated follow-up work that these raids entail. What is also lost is the story of the women and men victimized by the modern-day slave trade.
“She said if I come to America and be her nanny here, she will help me go to college, bring my daughter to America, and she’d pay me minimum wage. For two years, she made me sleep on the floor next to the baby’s crib, cook, clean, take care of the house, and I never got paid, never saw my daughter, never went to school.”
“He said I was beautiful, just like a model, and that he can help me get a high-paying job in the U.S., make so much money, I can live like a queen and support my whole family back home. Once I got here, I was kept under a trap door in a basement and told that now I owe $50,000 for all the ‘help’ he and his friends have given me. If I want my freedom, I must work off my debt in this brothel.”
“I thought, she is my wife, I love her, I will join her in America. But when I got here, she told me I am going to work for her moving company and I can’t eat, can’t sleep, have to do everything she tells me to do or she’ll deport me, have the police come and get me.”
Preying on the desperation and dreams of vulnerable immigrants around the world, human traffickers lure their victims to the U.S. with false promises and tales of living the American dream. Most victims are pulled to the U.S. by the hope of opportunity and pushed from their home country by the lack of the same chances of making a better life for themselves and their loved ones. But once in the U.S., the experiences of these individuals are strikingly similar: abuse, threats of violence and retaliation, elimination of personal liberty and free agency, and dehumanizing treatment that crushes the dignity, self esteem, and self worth of the victim.
For the fortunate few that are able to escape their trafficking situations, these men, women, and children all too often deal with seemingly insurmountable challenges of daily survival: they are in a foreign land, unable to speak English, terrified of police and immigration, no knowledge about available help or resources, and little or no money or even any idea about where they will be sleeping that night.
The Anti-Trafficking project of API Legal Outreach serves these needs. We provide legal representation to these individuals to stabilize their immigration status, protect and advocate for them during the ensuing criminal investigation and prosecution, and work with our sister agencies in the Asian Anti-Trafficking Collaborative (AATC) to provide them with a place to live, medical help, aid obtaining refugee benefits, counseling, as well as job training and placement for the future.
API is the only legal organization in the entire state of California that provides comprehensive legal services to victims of human trafficking. The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized our collaborative, holistic approach, selecting AATC as one of only 3 programs in the entire country to be replicated on a national basis.
The trade in human bodies is overwhelming in scope and there is a tremendous amount of work and advocacy that must be done to try to reach and eliminate the source of human trafficking as well as ensure the safety and well-being of victims. Therefore, in addition to our legal work, we use a multi-level strategy in our Anti-Trafficking project to deal with the numerous issues involved in human trafficking through the provision of technical assistance and trainings, policy and legislative advocacy at local, state, and federal levels, and continuing community education and outreach to sister agencies and the general public.
250: The number of men, women, and children survivors of human trafficking that have been
More than 50% of the cases involved forced labor other than sex trafficking, such as
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