The fight against human trafficking demands our attention

In well-appointed homes, on farms, in factories and in restaurants in the U.S., thousands of people, even children, work long days cleaning homes, picking crops, making products, and washing dishes, busing tables and serving customers.

They toil for little or no pay for heartless employers unconcerned for their safety or health and, in some cases, ready to use threats or worse to keep them obedient. These are the faces of labor trafficking in the U.S., tens of thousands of people condemned to modern-day slavery in our cities and towns.

Ridding the nation of this scourge is difficult. Investigations need overlapping financial, economic and criminal actions to unravel the many bad actors involved.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a central role in eliminating slavery here and abroad. We work tirelessly to prevent, protect and prosecute those responsible. The department’s Wage and Hour Division recently engaged in a public dialogue on the topic of human trafficking, and we encourage everyone to read these engaging ideas from diverse range of stakeholders.

In December 2021, the White House released the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. The plan re-emphasized the three pillars to address human trafficking – Prevention, Protection, Prosecution – and added Partnerships as the nexus to enable crosscutting approaches and institutional effectiveness. The plan aims to address the root causes of human trafficking by taking action against the systemic injustices that communities, including underserved populations, experience.

If you are or know someone who is a victim of labor trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline by phone at 1-888-373-7888, or by texting “HELP” or “INFO” to BeFree (233733).

Anyone with questions about workers’ rights can email the Wage and Hour Division or call 866-4US-WAGE to speak confidentially with a trained professional. We are able to communicate with callers in more than 200 languages.

Learn more about the Department of Labor’s efforts at: Fighting Human Trafficking: The Legacy of the El Monte Sweatshop | U.S. Department of Labor Blog (dol.gov)

Paul Chang, US Department of Labor, Western Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator