Urge California to ensure that all its temporary workers are free from slavery - FreedomUnited.org

Urge California to ensure all its temporary workers are free from slavery

Kanti is a survivor advocate for domestic workers against forced labor in California
WATCH: Angela and Jayson survivor advocate in conversation: Amend SB 477
Raymundo is a survivor advocate for farmworkers in California
Angela is a survivor advocate against forced labor in California
Jayson is a survivor advocate against forced labor in California

Thousands of temporary workers are being trafficked into forced labor in California under threat of violence, deportation, and harm to their families

California attracts more temporary foreign workers than anywhere else in the US. As the fifth largest global economy, workers on lawful visas from all over the world seek opportunities in California.1

The vast majority of temporary workers are recruited via third-party foreign labor contractors (FLCs), some of whom act neither lawfully nor ethically. 

For example, unscrupulous FLCs have been known to drive to remote Mexican villages to find their recruitswho they contact via Facebook and WhatsApp. The FLCs take advantage of the desperation of low-income workers in these villages to increase their profits by charging high fees and deceiving them into exploitative work conditions.2

Once in the US, workers are bound to a single employer and are dependent on them for housing, food, and visasEmployers can take advantage of this power imbalance to abuse their workers—and because FLCs act as brokers between employer and worker, employers bear little responsibility for any wrongdoing. 

These circumstances mean that temporary workers are among the most exploited legally authorized workers in the countryThe full scope of the problem is not known because workers rarely report labor abuses for fear of losing their jobs and immigration status.

California state legislators tried to address these risks in 2014 by passing Senate Bill 4773(SB477), a bill designed to create better oversight for FLCs, with wide bipartisan support. The bill aimed to regulate FLCs by requiring:  

  1. The registration of FLCs 
  2. The use of only registered FLCs by California employers 
  3. Full and honest disclosure of working terms and conditions during the recruiting process, including no fees, and 
  4. Penalties for failure to comply with these requirements 

The bill became law in 2016. However, because of the way this new law was incorporated into existing legal provisions for farmworkers, it fails in its goalsAs it’s currently framed, the new legislation allows for an interpretation that would limit the law to non-agricultural workers on H-2B visasWith the vast majority of migrant workers in California being on other temporary work visasonly around 3% of migrant workers are protected by SB477. 

As currently interpreted, SB477 leaves thousands of temporary workers in California at high risk of exploitation and human trafficking.4

This must change. 

Our partners at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking have been lobbying for the small legislative change needed to fix the law. While simple, the amendment has faced opposition from industry lobbyists who stand to gain from the loophole.5

We are calling on the California State Legislature to support the amendment to update SB477 to support all FLC visa workers by: 

Fulfilling SB477’s original goal of covering all migrant workers by deleting Section 9998 of California Business and Professions Code. This section, which you can read below, creates the loophole which allows workers on H-2A visas to fall through the cracks. This chapter shall apply only to “nonagricultural workers” as defined by Section 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b) of Title 8 of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act. It shall not apply to any person duly licensed as a “farm labor contractor” as that term is defined in Section 1682 of the Labor Code nor shall it apply to any person exempt from the licensing requirement in Section 1682.5 of the Labor Code or to any employer employing agricultural workers as defined by Section 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(a) of Title 8 of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act

20 years ago- The U.S. Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the first federal law combatting human trafficking in the U.S. and globally.  

15 years ago- California passed its first law, AB 22 (Lieber), to combat human trafficking statewide. 

10 years ago- Mayor, now Governor, Newsom started a human trafficking task force in San Francisco, California, with other cities and counties across the state following his lead. 


Call on the California State Legislature to amend Senate Bill 477 to protect all migrant workers, regardless of visa or industry, from forced labor and human trafficking. 

  • July 13, 2021: AB 364 PASSED SENATE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE! We are excited to share our bill in California that aims to protect all temporary migrant workers passed out of the Senate Judicial Committee!  Next stop: Senate Appropriations Committee

  • July 9, 2021: The Senate Judiciary Committee bill analysis cited the support of big business to all temporary migrant workers in California are protected from forced labor. Read the bill analysis here 

  • June 21, 2021: Our campaign bill AB 364 will be heading to its first Senate Committee hearing on June 28th! Freedom United sent a letter to Senate Committees where the bill will be up for a vote stating our support and shared our petition. Click to read the letter

  • June 2, 2021: We’re delighted to share our campaign bill AB364 to stop fake recruiters and help end forced labor has passed in the California State Assembly. Next Stop: California State Senate! 

  • May 20, 2021: We are excited to share our campaign bill  AB 364 passed out of the Judicial Assembly Appropriations Committee! Next stop: California State Assembly for a floor vote!

  • Jan 29, 2020: Campaign Launches

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

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Sabrina Marie Bell
Sabrina Marie Bell
1 year ago

This is a deplorable, inhuman, act! How can this still be happening in this day and age? People who do this should suffer penalties of jail, treated like slaves. The women, and others they do this to should be compensated with money, a place to live, a decent job, and of course their passports back.

9 months ago

They do this in communist countries . Read epoch news see how much c c p business owned.

Sylvia Meadows
3 months ago
Reply to  Jesuscoming

And so WHAT does that say for the United States of America!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yogendra Ray
Yogendra Ray
9 months ago

Let American Organisations have a look at their own backyard so that their utterances about other countries has some value.

1 year ago

Terrible absolutely despicable. This has been happening to children too and it’s very hard to believe but it’s very very true. Go on you tube for child trafficking .

Sam Smith
9 months ago

Interestingly years ago I helped a Mauritian relative of a friend move to the UK – to become a nurse. We’re all grandparents now, but remain friends. The lesson here I think is to make sure the contract is in your own language as well as your sponsor’s.

9 months ago

Horrific actions revealed need to suppress anger, disbelieve and shame for belonging to the human race. So good to read of positive actions and outcomes taken by caring pople. Thank you all, especially also to FREEDOM And nited staff, for your ongoing human right’s efforts and persistence. We wish you to stay well, healthy, committed and finding ways to recharge the needed energy to keep following this tremendously important work of human rights on so many levels.Thank you all.

Call on the California State Legislature to amend Senate Bill 477 and protect all migrant workers

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I am calling on the California State Legislature to amend Bill SB477 and protect all migrant workers, regardless of visa or industry, from forced labour and human trafficking.

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