Forced Labor In The USA Copyright ÂŠ 2014 USA Freedom. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. USA Freedom is a nonprofit organization that advocates against Modern Day Slavery occurring in the United States of America.
For the slaves who find themselves in bondage today. For the ones crying out for help. For the ones that have already given up. For the voiceless. May this serve as their voice to shed a light on Modern Day Slavery and rescue them from captivity.
The USA Freedom nonprofit organization aims to bring awareness about Forced Labor in the USA.
CONTENTS 08 Forced Labor 10
How Does It Happen In the USA? The Agriculture Sector Sweatshop Factories Salons and Other Industries Cocoa and Coffee
20 Too Much Talk, NOt Enough Action 22
Freedom Stories Flor Molina Rambho Kumar Miguel Rojas
30 Stop Forced Labor
Food. Restaurants. Farms. Clothing. Factories. Cotton Fields. Legal slavery ended in the United States in 1865, yet the practice of forcing individuals to work against their will, oftentimes in inhumane conditions, continues today. Currently there are around 50,000 people working in forced labor situations in the United States. Although this number is smaller than it was during the 18th century, finding and freeing these individuals is difficult because they are hidden away and exploited. In order to fully eradicate the problem of forced labor in the U.S., the government needs to evaluate the reasons for forced labor within the country, and identify the most useful policies to control this problem.
Victims of forced labor come from numerous ethnic and racial groups. Most are trafficked from thirty-five or more countries and, through force, fraud, or coercion, find themselves laboring against their will in the United States. Chinese comprised the largest number of victims, followed by Mexican and Vietnamese. Some victims are born and raised in the United States and find themselves pressed into servitude by fraudulent or deceptive means. Over the past five years, forced labor operations have been reported in at least ninety U.S. cities. These operations tend to thrive in states with large populations and sizable immigrant communities, such as California, Florida, New York, and Texasâ€”all of which are transit routes for international travelers. Forced labor is undoubtedly happening in the very Land of the Free. Slavery is not a thing of the past but something of the present. Trafficked victims into the United States, come from a variety of foreign countries, although the majority originates in India, China, Mexico and Vietnam.
Forced labor operations tend to thrive in industries that offer low wages, where U.S. law requires little or no regulation or monitoring of working conditions, and where a high demand for cheap labor exists. The sectors in which forced labor is most prevalent are sex services, domestic servitude, agriculture, sweatshop, and factory work. Forced labor in these industries is perpetuated by the large potential for profit, and by the small risk of being prosecuted for the crime.
At any given time, tens of thousands of people work as forced laborers across the United States. Of these victims, the Department of Justice estimates that fewer than 1,000 are liberated each year. There are many reasons why so few victims are able to escape their situation. For instance, most victims of forced labor originate from foreign countries and are uneducated, do not speak the language, have no social or family network, fear deportation, and do not trust or have knowledge of the outside world. In addition, many perpetrators use repeated threats and verbal abuse, involuntary confinement, torture, and sexual assault to force their victims into submission. All of these conditions can cause forced labor victims to lose their sense of control, and to become increasingly dependent on those who hold them captive, which oftentimes delays or prevents them from escaping their situation.
a Te x
ACROSS THE USA
Forced labor also includes Child labor. Child labor refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations. Child labor is existent today in poor developing countries, but also in the U.S. mainly in the agriculture industry.
o Ne w Y
As it will be discussed throughout the text, forced labor occurs in different industries. They do not all directly occur on U.S. soil but are linked to the U.S. regardless. Some victims of slavery are trafficked into the U.S. but others are slaves in other countries that the U.S. buys products or resources from; such as cocoa for chocolate, coffee, cotton for clothing, sugar, fruits, and more. 11
Sweatshops. Factories. Farms. Beauty Salons. Restaurants. These are some of the places where forced labor which is modern day slavery, exist within Americaâ€™s borders. Each year thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked into the United States and forced to work without pay in deplorable conditions. Most of them are rarely seen in public places. Hidden from view, they toil in sweatshops, farms, factories, salons, restaurants, the fishing business, the carpet business and more. To prevent them from escaping, their captors confiscate their identification documents, forbid them from leaving their workplaces or contacting their families, threaten them with arrest and deportation, and restrict their access to the surrounding community.
ILLEGAL WORKING CONDITIONS
On June 29, Wal-Mart said it had suspended one of its seafood suppliers in Louisiana for violating its workplace standards. The action came as an advocacy group for foreign guest workers announced that it had uncovered appalling abuses at the company, C. J.â€™s Seafood, and at a dozen other Wal-Mart suppliers too. The workers said the company forced them to work 16- to 24-hour days, and 80-hour weeks, at illegally low rates, sometimes locked in the plant, peeling crayfish until their hands felt dead. Some were threatened with beatings. This case is not just a Wal-Mart problem, forced labor not only exists in the food industry, it exists elsewhere such as farms, beauty salons, mines, to name a few. Forced labor exists in poor developing countries as well as the very United States of America. In terms of Child Labor,
The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows children as young as 12 years old to work in agricultural employment with written parental consent or on farm where the parent is employed. Victims of forced labor have been tortured, raped, assaulted, and even murdered. They have been held in absolute control by their captors and stripped of their dignity. Some have also been subjected to forced abortion, dangerous working conditions, and poor nutrition. Others have been physically or psychologically scarred for life. Once freed, many will suffer from a host of health-related problems, including repetitive stress injury, chronic back pain, visual and respiratory illnesses, sexually transmitted diseases, and depression.
Victims of forced labor have been tortured, raped, assaulted, and murdered. 13
The Agriculture Sector
more than 1.5 million seasonal farm workers cultivate and harvest produce in the U.S.
The agricultural sector experiences a high occurrence of forced labor in the United States. Farm workers in general are particularly vulnerable. A number of factors allow this, agricultural wages are stagnant and working conditions are poor; legal protections for agricultural workers are weak; and monitoring of work conditions is scant. Agriculture is one of the most profitable sectors of the formal economy. The growing international demand for U.S. agricultural produce is increasing the demand for farm labor across the country. Each year more than one and a half million seasonal farm workers cultivate and harvest produce in the United States. Some seven hundred thousand of these workers are migratory, following the harvest from place to place. In spite of the expansion in agricultural production, farm worker wages and working conditions are stagnant or declining. Like domestic workers, agricultural workers are not â€œemployeesâ€? under the NRLA and are not guaranteed certain protections, making it difficult to organize
and negotiate collectively with employers. When depressed wages, poor working conditions, and a lack of legal protections are combined with an increasing demand for cheap farm labor, the result is a continuum of abuses of which forced labor is the most extreme. We can examine the prevalence of forced labor in agriculture by looking at the example of the citrus industry in Florida. Each year agriculture contributes almost one billion dollars to Florida’s economy. During the 1995/1996 season citrus sales alone totaled $246.3 million, despite belowaverage citrus prices. Furthermore, citrus production is increasing, and over the next five years citrus production is expected to increase thirty percent. The increased production will rely on an increased supply of farm labor. Today this labor is supplied by work crews, composed primarily of immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Farm workers in Florida are predominantly immigrants, almost half of whom are undocumented, reflecting a trend seen throughout the United States. The extent of the problem stretches beyond Florida’s citrus industry. In June 2002 the U.S. Justice department indicted six New York agricultural labor employers on forced labor charges. In June 2003 a federal grand jury indicted a Hawaii man on charges of smuggling four Tongan nationals into Hawaii and forcing them to work for his pig farm and rock-wall business. The employer beat the Tongans with his fists, rocks, and tools and threatened to have them deported if they tried to leave. In September 2003 a federal grand jury convicted two New Hampshire employers of forcing four Jamaican nationals to labor in their tree service business by confiscating their passports and threatening them with physical violence. The U.S. Department of Justice reported that one of the employers “physically assaulted one of the men and [the other employer] ordered his dog to attack the man as he was fleeing.”
Sweatshop manufacturing, factories in which employers violate labor laws, is another economic sector that utilizes forced labor in the United States. This report looks at the largest single case of forced labor, in which over two hundred workers were enslave, that arose in a sweatshop garment factory in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Merchandise produced in U.S. island territories carries a “Made in the U.S.A.” label, yet workers enjoy fewer rights and labor protections than their counterparts on the mainland. Most individuals associate sweatshops with lesser developed countries. But industry pressures, for example, on U.S. textile and clothing manufacturers, encourage employers to locate factories in close proximity to retailers. In some cases this can mean forced labor. Sweatshops are susceptible to forced labor because they frequently operate within the informal economy, frustrating attempts to monitor or enforce labor law regulation. Like agriculture and domestic service, sweatshop manufacturing is a sector in which there are few protections for workers and little monitoring of labor law compliance. Forced labor in U.S. garment factories came to light in
1995 when the group of Thai captive workers in El Monte, California, was freed. Our forced labor case study of Kil-Soo Lee, American Samoan garment manufacturer whose workers produced garments for major U.S. clothing retailers, is an example of how weak labor protections facilitated his forced-labor scheme. Minimum wage standards in American Samoa are lower than in mainland United States. Lack of workplace inspections or labor law enforcement, combined with the workers’ fear of making complaints, create a context in which forced labor could occur. The worker’s fear comes in part from the extensive control exercised by employers. The Samoan immigration board has the power to deport an immigrant worker in response to a request from an employer who wishes to terminate the worker’s employment. According to an official from the Samoan governor’s office, once the immigration board has processed the worker on arrival in American Samoa and issued him or her an identification card, the board has no proactive role and becomes substantially involved in a worker’s affairs only if the worker lodges an objection to a request
for deportation. Workers feared complaining and had few legal tools to help them fight back
Victims of trafficking may be found in any industry with a demand for cheap labor and a lack of rigorous monitoring. Victims are forced to work against their will in exploitative conditions for little or no pay. They can be found in forestry, landscaping, construction, carnivals, tourism and entertainment, elder-care facilities, gas stations, nail salons, hair braiding salons, and other small businesses. Court records show beginning sometime in 2000 until August 2008, Lynda Dieu Phan, Duc Cao Nguyen, and Justin Phan, conspired that Lynda Dieu Phan travel to Vietnam to recruit two victims to work in her nail salons located in the York, Pa. area. Fraudulent marriages were arranged so the victims could gain entry into the United States. Upon entry, the victims were forced to work at Lynda Dieu Phan’s nail salons. “This investigation has shown the unfortunate reality that modern day slavery continues to exist in the 21st century. Those who compel such acts will be held accountable,” said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Philadelphia.
In another case, 59-year-old Tieu Tran, a former nail salon owner in Minnesota, pleaded guilty to human trafficking in U.S. District Court. According to court documents, in 2008, Tran recruited a woman from Vietnam to come work in the U.S., promising her a high-paying job and help immigrating into the country legally. She did not keep either of those promises. Instead, Tran smuggled the woman (and two other people) into the country through Mexico, and then held her in a permanent state of indentured servitude, forcing her to work off her “debt” in Tran’s son’s Vietnamese restaurant. From the Department of Justice on Wednesday: Tran admitted to compelling the victim to work long hours without paying her as promised, using a scheme, plan and pattern of nonviolent coercion. This included manipulation of debts, isolation and verbal intimidation to hold the victim in fear, knowing that the victim was without legal status and money, did not have the ability to speak English, feared losing her family home in Vietnam to creditors and had nowhere else to turn for subsistence. Tran faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine; federal investigators are looking into her case to find and help other similar victims of her scheme.
Victims are forced to work against their will in exploitative conditions. 17
Cotton and Apparel
Forced Labor also occurs in the clothing that we buy. “The problem is this practice of forced labor is happening in cotton fields that are many steps removed from the final garment, so it’s quite difficult to knowingly know what’s going on in your supply chain,” Joanna Ewart-James, programme coordinator at Anti-Slavery International. “So you’ve got to put in vendor agreements that say ‘Uzbek cotton cannot be used in our products,’ and some kind of system for actually saying where the cotton comes from.” Uzbekistan is the fifth-largest producer of cotton and its third-biggest exporter. According to the Responsible Sourcing Network, the group which rallied some of the biggest names in retail, including H&M, to reject the knowing use of Uzbek-sourced cotton in 2011. H&M could step forward as a leader, or it could continue to assume everything’s fine, when all indications are that’s far from the truth.
Each September the cotton harvest begins. Children and adults are forced to pick cotton by hand for in order to fill the shortfall in voluntary adult labor. They receive little, if any, pay. Upwards of 2 million children work in Uzbekistanâ€™s cotton fields for 10 hours a day, two to three months each year. Each citizen is given a daily quota, which for children can reach up to 60kg of cotton a day. Those who fail to meet their targets, or who pick a low quality crop, are reportedly punished by detention, told that their grades will suffer or face problems at their day to day workplace. Children who run away from the cotton fields, or who refuse to work, are threatened with expulsion from school or college.
ree mo to th nth o tw
The work is dangerous, children can be left exhausted, suffer from illhealth and malnutrition after weeks of arduous labor. During harvests there are even reported deaths due to poor health and safety standards. Those working on remote cotton farms are forced to stay in makeshift dormitories in poor conditions with insufficient food and drinking water.
TEACHERS PICKING COTTON
Forced labor within the industry does not just affect children. Local administration employees, teachers, factory workers and doctors are commonly forced to leave their jobs for weeks at a time and pick cotton with no additional compensation. In some instances refusal to cooperate can lead to dismissal from work. Government employees who did not want to pick cotton could pay approximately US$200 instead, a sum more than the monthly income of many. The scale of forced labor of government employees disrupted the delivery of essential public services including schools, hospitals, transportation and banking. Forced labor in cotton picking does not only happen in Uzbekistan it happens in other parts of the world as well. U.S. companies such as H&M and others participate in the forced labor of cotton through the apparel that they sell which contains cotton in the materials of the products that they sell.
ev e r y e ar y
Upwards of 2 million children work in cotton fields for 10 hours daily, two to three months each year.
Cocoa and Coffee
Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which grows primarily in the tropical climates of West Africa and Latin America. The cacao bean is more commonly referred to as cocoa, so that is the term we will use throughout. West African countries supply more than 70% of the worldâ€™s cocoa market. The cocoa they grow and harvest is sold to a variety of chocolate companies, including some of the largest in the world. In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor.
West African countries supply more than 70% of the world's cocoa market.
Take Drissa, he left his home in Mali and traveled over 300 miles to neighboring Ivory Coast in search of work harvesting cocoa on plantations. On arrival he was sold to a plantation owner, taken to a remote plantation and forced to work from dawn until dusk with no pay. The work was exhausting but if Drissa showed signs of tiredness he was beaten. At night, along with 17 other young men, he was locked in a
small room with only a tin can as a toilet. When Drissa was caught trying to escape, he was tied up and beaten until he couldn’t walk. Most of the children are between the ages of 12-16, but children as young as 7 have been filmed working on the farms. Some only stay for a few months, while others end up working on the cocoa farms through adulthood. A child’s workday begins at sunrise and ends in the evening. The children climb the cocoa trees and cut the bean pods using a machete. These large, heavy, dangerous knives are the standard tools for children on the cocoa farms. Each strike of the machete has the potential to severely cut a child’s fingers or hand. Virtually every child has scars on the hands, arms, legs or shoulders from accidents with the machete. Once the bean pods have been cut from the trees, the children pack the pods into large sacks and carry or drag them through the forest. “Some of the bags were taller than me. It took two people to put the bag on my head. And when you didn’t hurry, you were beaten.” - Aly Diabate, former cocoa slave.
as of 2003 the average cost for coffee per pound, was just $0.50
WORLDS BIGGEST EXPORTER
It is not clear how widespread slavery on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast is. However, the country is the world’s biggest exporter of cocoa so it is possible that slave labor has been used to make the chocolate bar you eat. Child labor and forced labor occurs in the cultivation of coffee as well in Colombia, Guatemala, and Ivory Coast, all leading exporters of coffee to the U.S. The Ivory Coast is responsible for a significant amount of Robusta coffee, which is used for espresso, instant coffees, and blended into Arabica beans to make ground coffees. Coffee is sometimes grown on the same farms where cacao pods, which produce cocoa beans, are grown. Even when coffee is not produced with child labor or slave labor, it is generally cultivated with exploited labor. Most of the world’s 25 million coffee growers receive less than one-percent of what most consumers pay for their daily cappuccino and only about 6-percent of the price paid for coffee in the supermarket. In the early 1980s the average per-pound cost for coffee was $1.20, but as of 2003 it was just $0.50.
while more than 90% of murders are cleared up, only 1% of slavery cases are ever solved
Too Much Talk, Not Enough Action
Governments should be leading the way in the eradication of slavery. Why? Because they already promised to end slavery. Every country has enacted laws banning slavery, making it a crime, and promising to wipe it out. But passing a law and enforcing it are two different things. While there is a law against slavery on the books in every country, most countries donâ€™t bother to spend money on the enforcement of that law. Worse, in some countries corruption means that officials are taking bribes from slaveholders and supporting slavery. According to the US government between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into slavery in the US every year. This is about the same number of people who are murdered in America each year. But while more than 90% of murders are cleared up, only 1% of slavery cases are ever solved. Why? Every police department has a homicide squad, but only a handful of police departments have anyone assigned to human trafficking and slavery. Every government can build a national plan to end slavery within its borders. They can do this by bringing together all relevant existing government agencies, and appointing an anti-slavery ambassador charged with coordinating their efforts and actively involving the local anti-slavery organizations in their countries who are closest to the problem. The ambassador should be charged with leading the development of a national plan which outlines everything that will be required (including what help will be needed from other countries and groups) to stop all forms of slavery. National leaders must be committed to this plan if it is to be effective. And, of course, the plan needs to be followed up with action. Having a national plan helps focus government agenciesâ€™ efforts and gives constituents of that country a means of holding their government accountable.
“I was forced to sleep at the factory in a storage room with another victim. I was forbidden to talk to anyone or from putting one step outside of the factory.”
“When Rambho’s fingers bled from overwork the slave owner would dip them in oil and light a match to them. If any mistake was made, the loom owner would take a stick and beat him.”
“In one of the threats he said to us, If any of you losers try to leave without paying back your ride, that’s when I’m gonna really going to beat you up. We knew this guy meant what he said.” 25
In the winter of 2001, I became a victim of slavery in the garment industry in Los Angeles. I was an easy target for my trafficker: I was a desperate 28 year old mother who had just lost my baby because I didn’t have the money to take her to the hospital when she got sick. After my baby died, I got so depressed and worried that what happened to my baby could happen to my other three children. I was taking sewing classes in hopes of starting my own business and earn enough money to take care of my children.
My sewing teacher was approached by a trafficker because she knew a lot of women who knew how to sew and would be desperate to come to the United States to make money. There were no opportunities in my town, so when my sewing teacher told me about the opportunity to go to the U.S., I was definitely interested. I had to leave my mom and my children behind. I was told that when I got to the U.S. I will have a job so I could send money home, food and a place to stay. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I quickly realized it had all been a lie. My trafficker confiscated my documents and told me that now I owe her almost $3,000 for bringing me to the U.S. and that I had to work for her in order to pay her
back. I was forced to work 18 hours a day making dresses that were being sold for $200 department stores. When all the workers in the factory got to go home, I had to clean the factory. I was forced to sleep at the factory in a storage room and I had to share a single mattress with another victim. The other workers in the factory were able to come and go at the end of their shift. I was forbidden to talk to anyone or from putting one step outside of the factory. I worked hard and I was always hungry. I was given only one meal a day and I had 10 minutes to eat. If I took longer, I was punished. After only a few weeks of being there, one of my co-workers started suspecting that something was not right. She had realized that I was always there in the morning when she got there and was working at night after everybody left. She gave me her phone number on a piece of paper, and told me that if I needed help, I could call her. I was so afraid, I didn’t really trust anybody. My trafficker told me that if I ever go to the police, they wouldn’t believe me. She said that she knew where my children and my mother lived and that I wouldn’t want them to pay the consequences. This went on for 40 days, but I tell you it felt
like 40 years. I thought I was going to die. I thought I would never see my children again. I was sick with worry about how my children were in Mexico and how they didn’t know what happened to me. After weeks of begging my trafficker to let me go to church, she finally let me go. The moment I set foot outside the factory, I decided not to go back. I went to a pay phone to call my co-worker but I didn’t know how the pay phone worked. Someone walked by and I asked him if he spoke Spanish, and he did. He helped me dial the phone number and my co-worker came and picked me up and took me to a restaurant. I was found by FBI agents who were already investigating my trafficker. They connect me with CAST (a non-profit group). CAST found me shelter and helped me with all my basic necessities because I had nothing when I escaped. Ultimately, my trafficker was charged with labor abuse and got a light sentence - only 6 months of house arrest. Since regaining my freedom I have had many challenges. Although I was enslaved 9 years ago, my trafficker is still after me and my family. Even though my enslavement doesn’t define me as a person, it makes me who I am today. I am an advocate against slavery, I am a survivor of a crime so monstrous that the only way to
move forward is by fighting back. I am not the only one. There are other survivors fighting back with me. We are part of a group called the survivors caucus at CAST and we are working to educate people, law enforcement and communities using our stories. At the caucus we have advocacy to end slavery for good. Even though we were once victims we are now able to impact social change. I encourage you to join our fight to end slavery. We need to find a way to get to the root of the problem the demand for all products tainted with slave labor. The companies who brought these garments could have stopped me and others from being slaves, if they had made an effort. If those big companies can show consumers they are doing things to make sure the company is not using slave labor in the making of their products, these companies can be the key to freedom for hundreds of thousands of enslaved people. I know that from my experience even one person can make a difference. If companies post what they do to stop slavery, people will understand that they can buy from these companies and that will help stop the demand for these products. All of us working together can end slavery forever. Let’s make it happen.
Rambho Kumar is a child labor survivor who was rescued from a carpet loom in India where he was forced to work 19 hours a day with no pay. The loom owner and trafficker seduced Rambho’s mother with promises that Rambho would go to school and send money home to the family. Rambho’s father had just died and his mother could not feed her big family of six children so she sent Rambho with the trafficker.
Prior to the loom Rambho recalls working at home yet also playing and roaming around with the kids living nearby his village. Rambho was only 13 years old when he was taken to work at the loom. A man named Shankar and the owner of the loom came and gave 700 rupees to his mother and brought him to the loom. Rambho did not want to go, he wanted to stay home and cried as they took him away, but he knew there was no money at home for his family or himself to eat and so his mother told him to go. He remembers the owner and trafficker telling his mother lies that never came true for Rambho. After some time the owner told Rambho, “that I’m not going to be able to go back home ever.” At the loom Rambho was taught how to weave a carpet by the
owner in only two days. But when Rambho’s fingers bled from overwork the slave owner would dip them in oil and light a match to them. If any mistake was made by Rambho when making the carpets, the loom owner would take a stick and beat him. He wasn’t allowed to play or go to school as promised. He was never allowed to visit his family or leave the loom. Rambho was confused and scared but would sometimes ask the owner when he would go to school. The owner would reply that there was no school for Rambho and that he was going to spend the rest of his time weaving carpets for him. Everyday day felt worse for Rambho as he was not given rest from work. Rambho remembers his long hours of work, “I used to work from four in the morning till eleven in the night. There used to be about fifty people working. At about ten o’clock we used to get our first meal which was not good. Then I would go back to weaving.” “Over there I wasn’t allowed to play or roam around or anything. I used to wake up in the morning at around four o’clock and go to work. At about ten o’clock we used to get our first meal which was not good. We didn’t like, I didn’t like the food over there, and then
I would go back to weaving the carpets till about ten in the night. Till about nine in the night -- at nine in the night we would get our second meal. And that was all we did in the day: weaving carpets, eating food, and going to sleep.”
says he wants to be a guard when he grows up. He wants to keep other children free from slavery. “I won’t let anybody go there even by mistake. I’ll tell them that they hit you and they beat you and I would not let them go there ever.”
That was all 13 year old Rambho did in the day: weave carpets, eat food, go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. Finally, one day as he was working in the loom two policemen along with people from Free the Slaves’ partner organization, raided the loom and rescued Rambho. Rambho remembers the rescue, “the owner used to tell us that um if the police ever comes, run away before they can catch you, so I knew that when the police comes I’ll be taken away from there and when I saw them coming I was very happy. As soon as they came the owner and his father and his brother and all the other people ran away. About ten of us were surrounded by the police. Six of them got away but four of us were got, uh, brought to the ashram. I was very happy when the police came because I knew that would be the end of my working in the loom.” Today he is free and plans to help his mother find a house. He also wants to make sure no other children become enslaved. He 29
Miguel wanted to work in the US because his young son had cancer and Miguel couldn’t afford the medicine on the salary he made in Mexico. He didn’t have the cash to pay for his journey to the United States so he accepted an offer to get a ride “now” and pay “later”. He soon found himself in a worse situation. He was enslaved in the orange groves of Florida. Every day Miguel was threatened with violence. “Well, I felt like a slave from the moment that I arrived because we couldn’t pay for the ride and because we had to pay for that and then they started to threaten us.” Miguel said. “It was horrible.”
One day some people from an organization called Coalition for Immokalee Workers visited the workers at the site. They started asking questions about Miguel’s work. At first he didn’t trust them but his instincts told him to ask for their card. Later he decided to call them and after talking with them he started to trust them. He set up a time to meet and the CIW set up a rescue. Now Miguel is working because he wants to. He has the freedom to take days off and work overtime if he wants to. He is able to send
money back home to his family now. His son is healthy. “Well, I come from Mexico. I decided to come and I gathered together some money, and even borrowed money, lent money, ah, and I came here with some friends. Then first I got together with one friend who had been here once before, and so we had gone together, and we first went to Arizona walking. We really had no idea where we were going or how to get there, we were just kinda walking in the direction of the house of the guy who gives a ride. I have one son, and he has cancer, and it costs a lot for the medicine and treatment, and the government helps out, but, they can only give so much treatment and it still costs a lot. I came because, the wages there are so low and I’m not earning enough there. I thought if I could go to the United States and maybe earn six or seven dollars an hou. With that, I could be earning that in three or four days what I could earn, more than I can earn in a whole week and then I can be sending that home to my family. That will help sustain the family, and help pay for my sons sickness. When I arrived, I really didn’t think of anything. I didn’t expect anything and we all came, the same, same situation, we were
traveling for three days and we hadn’t eaten for three days, so we were hunger of three days and we just came here like that. So when we arrived, we were in front of a shop, uh, it was like a, just a, a normal shop and there was there a big tree, kind of, a tree out front and that’s where we arrived, us 14 of us. When we arrived, the, the driver, he said, “You wait here, I’m gonna look for the boss. And he went off, and he went to look for a boss, but it seemed like he didn’t find it, but he came back and he said, “Uh, don’t move, you just stay here, but, there’s no problem with any immigration or any border patrol. You just wait here. And I was thinking, well, this is the first time I was here in, in the United States and all the time we’re afraid of immigration and being caught. And, uh, so I didn’t know, I was afraid, and we’re just thinking to wait here, and, and, fear for the immigration. So that’s when he gave the first threat to us. He said, “Look, if you want to work here, you’re gonna work here, and it’s hard work. You gotta work hard, you gotta, you gotta be motivated, and you gotta cut oranges and you got, have to harvest those oranges, you gotta use a big, heavy knife.” And he said to us that if any of you want to work, but not pay back the ride, if you, any of you try to escape…
That’s when he said, “If any of you losers try to leave without paying back your ride, that’s when I’m gonna really going to beat you up.” There was a guy he said he wanted to rest sit down and take a rest and he asked he asked one of the guys watching if he could just take one day off and just take one rest he was so tired and he says hey we don’t want any losers to be resting here this is a place of work and if you want to go rest you can get the hell out of here. So that really made me feel so sad to see this old man he’s so tired and he’s he just wants to rest and he’s being forced to work. I’m still here but you know America is beautiful but it’s not with my family and it’s a scary thing to if you come here illegally and then if you try to work you could end up in the same situation as a slave. I have permission to work, that means I have permission to be here only because now I am free from that work that I was in.
1 Learn about It.
4 Change the Law.
2 Spread the News.
5 VolunteeR YOUR Time.
3 Use Your Talents.
6 Donate Money.
Being aware of something is always the first step. There cannot be help without one knowing about there being a need for help. So inform yourself about Forced Labor. There are many articles Online about where Forced Labor has recently taken place. Read and find out the facts about Forced Labor today.
Being aware alone cannot do much; but bringing awareness about Forced Labor to more people, can help. Post a status on Facebook, tweet about it, tell someone that Forced Labor exists and its very real.
Everyone has a talent. Maybe your an artist, maybe your a chef, maybe you take photos. Snap a shot that can describe forced labor, draw about it, cook a delicious meal, invite friends over and watch a documentary together about Forced Labor. Write an article. Sing about it. Whatever your talent or passion is, you can use it to shine a light on Forced Labor.
There are many laws out there that donâ€™t favor victims of Forced Labor. Some laws are simply non-existent other laws seem to foster the issue of Forced Labor. Help change the law or enforce laws already made by signing petitions about certain laws or even by sending a letter to your local law officials.
Volunteer with an organization already dedicated to ending Forced Labor. There are many organizations committed to end slavery and rescue victims of Forced Labor. Join one and offer your free time.
Many organizations that trying to end Forced Labor are non profits. They need monetary help to achieve their missions of bringing awareness to the public and to free Forced Labor captives. Donate money towards an organization of your choice and help free Forced Labor slaves.
SPECIAL THANKS Price of Life (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship), The Polaris Project, Not For Sale, Gems Girls, and Free the Slaves are just a few of the nonprofit organizations that exposed me to the harsh truth that Slavery still exists today. Thank you for the resources that you have provided me with. This book couldnâ€™t have been completed without those resources. I am proud to announce that I have joined the fight with you all in advocating for Modern Day Slavery. Being a part of the fight helps me sleep at night, because I know that our voice is serving as the voice of the voiceless. I hope this book will help educate someone about Modern Day Slavery and therefore be a tool to set the captives free.
Graphic Design: Eva Zelarayan firstname.lastname@example.org www.issuu.com/evazelarayan
USA FREEDOM www.usafreedom.org
Brochure about Forced Labor for the USA Freedom, nonprofit organization.