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. 

  • October 3, 2022: We’re sorry to share the news that, despite the best efforts of almost 37,000 Freedom United community members, California’s Governor Newsom vetoed bill AB364 late last week thus failing to protect all temporary migrant workers in California from unscrupulous foreign labor contractors (FLCs) who illegally bind them to exploitative work conditions.

  • September 14, 2022: Freedom United sent a letter in support of AB364 to Governor Newsom urging him to sign the bill into law. Read it here.

  • August 24, 2022: Success! AB 364 PASSED THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE! AB364 is now on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk and is just one signature away from becoming law!

  • 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 

  • 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
2 years 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.

2 years ago

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

Harriet Harlow
Harriet Harlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Jesuscoming

Well, we’re not a communist country, now are we? Treating all people decently should be a “given” in our society.

Sylvia Meadows
1 year ago
Reply to  Jesuscoming

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

Harriet Harlow
Harriet Harlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Sylvia Meadows

A lot, none of it good. I thought we were better than this.

Yogendra Ray
Yogendra Ray
2 years ago

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

2 years 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
2 years 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.

Sue Horwood
Sue Horwood
3 months ago


Harriet Harlow
Harriet Harlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Sue Horwood

They should refuse to work in the US, period, until proper protections, wages, etc. are put into place so they can work safely.

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