International Human Trafficking in the news, again
By: Harlan York
March 4, 2011

Note: The story below is about events in Canada; if a similar situation arises in the US, the victims are eligible for T visas. under Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Among the community of migrant farm workers in Kingsville, the van-load of Thai women stood out from the crowd. It was decided among the workers that because of the nature of the migrant farm worker industry and the youth of the women, a protective ‘eye should be kept on them.’ But the women didn’t turn up for work on any of the farms. As suddenly and mysteriously as they had arrived, the women vanished. There are fears now that they may have been part of an alarming trend in the sordid world of international human trafficking. They could be brought in through a farm worker program and then go work in the sex trade industry. That concern that has caused the office’s Windsor Essex Anti-Human Trafficking Group to seek a grant from the Ministry of Attorney General Victim Services Secretariat to begin an outreach program that will focus on using those rescued from human trafficking to locate and help others victimized in the same way. Typically, human trafficking and debt bondage involve the trafficker having an agent in another country, Thailand or the Philippines among the most popular, to recruit workers. The agent, usually a white man to provide a “Canadian face,” makes an offer of employment in Canada and then sells his services to the prospective worker. The fee can be many thousands of dollars that, the worker is assured, can easily be made back once in Canada. Often the workers will mortgage their land or homes or sell their possessions to make the trip and take advantage of “the opportunity.” When they arrive in Canada they soon discover the situation is vastly different. Third-party traffickers tell them where they must live, usually in overcrowded and terrible housing, told with whom they can and cannot associate, even where they must shop. They are arbitrarily picked up and moved from job to job. The wages are too low to ever pay off their debts. In addition they are taught to fear Canadian authorities and are constantly threatened with exposure, arrest and deportation if they complain. Some of the workers may be manipulated into other illegal activities, including prostitution, to pay their debts. The problem exists across Canada but this area is particularly vulnerable because of proximity to the US border, the reliance of a large agricultural and greenhouse industry on migrant workers and the size of the local sex trade industry, with massage parlours, strip clubs and escort services employing a largely transient workforce. (windsor star)

About Harlan York

The first-ever attorney in New Jersey to win “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers, Harlan York is former immigration chair of the NJ State Bar Association and former co-chair for the NY State Bar Association CFLS Committee on Immigration. He currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Practice Management Committee.

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