Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking Applauds CA Law to Combat Trafficking
For Release: September 29, 2014
New CA legislation signed by Governor Brown an “important milestone”
The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) applauds Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. for signing SB 477, bi-partisan legislation that protects foreign workers in California from abuse and human trafficking, and helps to eliminate fraud in U.S. nonimmigrant visa programs.
“We applaud the leadership of all those who involved in this effort, particularly the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) who worked tirelessly on the bill,” said Melysa Sperber, Director of ATEST. “We believe the enactment of this law is critical – it will not only mark an important milestone in strengthening our efforts to prevent human trafficking, it will also help to ensure the integrity of our visa systems.”
The law addresses foreign workers lured to the US by foreign labor recruiters who promise them desirable jobs, and then place them into abusive working conditions, while charging them exorbitant recruitment fees that the workers will not be able to repay. Some foreign workers effectively end up in indentured servitude as they try to pay off excessive “recruitment” fees or end up in slavery.
The bill provides four critical protections for workers. First, the bill bans foreign labor contractors from charging workers recruitment fees; second, it requires full disclosure of employment conditions; third, the bill requires foreign labor contractors to register with the state Labor Commissioner; and finally, it prohibits employers from using unregistered contractors.
“This is an important milestone for thousands of workers who desperately need its protections today. It’s only fitting that California take the lead on foreign labor recruitment regulation since it hosts the largest population of temporary foreign workers in the country. These 130,000 documented workers represent 14 percent of the nationwide total,” said Kay Buck, Executive Director of California-based CAST, an ATEST member. “We hope that this important California legislation will be a model for other states and for critical federal legislation that will help these vulnerable workers.”
Notes to the Editor
California SB 477 is groundbreaking legislation focused on foreign labor recruitment. Other pending legislation includes H.R. 3344, the Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination (FORTE) Act. This federal legislation was introduced to ensure that prevention and protection measures are strengthened to combat human trafficking. ATEST remains committed to advocating for federal legislation like SB 477.
The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. We advocate for lasting solutions to prevent labor and sex trafficking, hold perpetrators accountable, ensure justice for victims and empower survivors with tools for recovery.
About Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST)
CAST is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the United States providing direct legal and social services exclusively to survivors of human trafficking. A Los Angeles-based organization with international and domestic programming, CAST has championed a survivor-centered approach to combatting human trafficking for over 15 years. CAST provides trafficking survivors with a continuum of life-transforming services: a 24-hour emergency response system; legal and social services; and a world-renowned survivor leadership program. Through this intensive work in the trenches, CAST holds a unique perspective that has impacted state and federal policies, as well as catalyzed innovative partnerships which have transformed the trajectories of survivors’ lives. In April 2014, CAST’s excellent work was honored by President Obama with the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Learn more at www.castla.org or follow CAST on Twitter (@CASTLA) and Facebook.