Labor trafficking is a form of human trafficking that involves forcing individuals to perform labor or services against their will for little or no pay. Labor trafficking happens across many industries in the U.S. such as ag-riculture, food service and hospitality. It can also be called forced labor, involuntary child labor and debt bondage.
Labor traffickers often present themselves as legitimate job recruiters or employers who lure victims with promises of an education, high for travelers to know what forced labor is, what it looks like and how to report it. Travelers are on the front lines of potentially observing labor trafficking at hospitality locations such as gas stations, travel centers, rest stops, hotels, motels and resorts.
Victims of labor trafficking can be any age, race, gender or legal status. People most susceptible to becoming a victim of labor trafficking are those with undefined immigration statuses, large debts and those living in poverty.
Indicators of labor trafficking include, but are not wages or exciting travel opportunities. Traffickers use force and coercion to gain and keep control of their victims, often taking passports or identification documents. Victims often experience physical and mental abuse by the trafficker, threats of deportation and/or threats of violence towards themselves or their families.
As domestic travel increases during the summer, it is especially important limited to, the following:
- Is the person not in control of his/her own money?
- Is the person not in possession of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport) or defer to someone else when asked for their identification documents?
- Does the person work excessively long and/or unusual hours?
- Is the person not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work?
- Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers?
- Is the person fearful, anxious or tense?
- Does the person avoid eye contact or seem afraid to speak?
- Has the child stopped attending school?
To learn more about the indictors and how to report suspected human trafficking, please visit our website.
Maria M. Odom is the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman for the Department of Homeland Security and appointed Chair of the DHS Blue Campaign.