Survivor advocate and Freedom United board member, Angela Guanzon, is leading the charge against trafficking in California. She’s well placed to do so having survived trafficking in the late 2000s. After two years of forced labor, she was able to regain her freedom with support from the FBI and our partner, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST). Now Angela is helping CAST and Freedom United to push through legislation in California that could help protect migrant workers from forced labor.
Freedom United’s campaign Bill AB 364, if passed, would protect temporary migrant workers, like Angela, from fake recruiters seeking to exploit migrant workers. Angela’s trafficker did not share the terms of her employment with her until she arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines. She was told that she owed the trafficker $12,000 for her transportation and work visa and it would take 10 years to work off her debt. She was made to work 18 hours a day with no days off and slept on the floor. Her passport was taken from her.
She told Spectrum News 1, “People think that when you are trafficked you’re going to be tied up, or put in a van or snatched. But I came with a legal visa.”
Unfortunately, Angela’s fight against forced labor in California is far from over.
Spectrum News 1 reports,
CAST CEO Kay Buck says both labor trafficking cases like Guanzon’s and sex trafficking cases are on the rise in Los Angeles.
“When I first came to CAST 17 years ago, a busy year would be on average 30 to 50 cases. Just last year we served 1,600 survivors,” Buck said.
During just the pandemic, cases surged 185%, which is why Buck says it’s important for people to be aware of this issue.
Buck said trafficked migrants have been smuggled across our border, but are also flying in from more than 70 countries on work visas.
The vast majority of temporary workers are recruited via third-party foreign labor contractors (FLCs) who often turn out to be traffickers. Current legislation only protects 3% of California’s migrant workers. California urgently needs to pass AB 364 to ensure greater oversight of FLCs so that migrant workers can be better protected.
We’re so close to passing the legislation. Join Angela and over 30,000 supporters urging California to vote to pass legislation that will better protect ALL temporary migrant workers from trafficking and exploitation. Add your name today!