Urge California to protect all temporary migrant workers - FreedomUnited.org

Urge California to protect all temporary migrant workers

  • Published on
    January 8, 2021
  • Written by:
    Freedom United
  • Category:
    Human trafficking, Activists, Anti-slavery activists, Forced Labor
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Campaign Summary: Thousands of temporary workers are being trafficked into forced labor in California under threat of violence, deportation, and harm to their families. The vast majority of temporary workers are recruited via third-party foreign labor contractors, some of whom act neither lawfully nor ethically. That is why we are working with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and calling on the California State Legislature to support legislation that would help protect temporary workers from modern slavery.

My name is Kanti and I am a survivor of human trafficking and forced labor.

I was born and raised in Sri Lanka, and when I was 18, I was recruited to travel to Los Angeles to work as a nanny and a housekeeper.

Before I moved from Sri Lanka to the U.S. a recruiter helped me get a visa from the embassy. When I got to the embassy, all of the paperwork was in English and I did not speak English at the time. I could not understand the information that was presented to me and I did not understand the terms of my work in the U.S.

I was told where to go and what to say. I did not realize that this was where the deceit leading to my exploitation started. I was made to believe everything would be okay, so I got a temporary visa and came to Los Angeles.

Once I was in California, I was told I would have to work six months for free to pay for my visa. I had to work day in and day out, cleaning the house, washing the car, doing the laundry, taking care of the children, and looking after my employer’s huge yard.

For over two years, I was not paid for this work or allowed to contact my family. My employer was verbally and physically abusive and threatened to harm my family if I dared to leave. My boss told me she had “bought me from the agency” and “she could do whatever she wanted.”

I felt isolated and hopeless. I did not know-how, or who, to reach out to for help and I knew nothing about my rights in California. Add your name to the petition urging California to ensure migrant workers like me are protected.

Now I know that if I had had information about who to turn to, I could have been helped sooner.

Thankfully, I am no longer working in this way. I escaped my exploiter, and I am now a certified nurse assistant. I do not want what happened to me to happen to any other worker who comes to California.

I know many other people who were recruited to come to the U.S. on temporary visas to work as nannies who were also exploited like I was. We need information about our rights and the terms of our employment, and these need to be in our own languages.

Your support is crucial as we call for new legislation this year to ensure that all temporary migrant workers are protected and know their rights in California.

My experience is one of the thousands of stories of temporary workers who are trafficked into forced labor in California under the threat of violence, deportation, and harm to our families.

Join me in urging California to ensure all temporary workers are protected from forced labor. 

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