Finding ways to break up the chains of human trafficking in agricultural sector of the U.S.
Labour trafficking in the United States is a form of human trafficking where victims are made to perform a task through force, fraud or coercion as it occurs in the United States. In the agriculture sector, the most common victims of trafficking are U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, and foreign nationals with temporary visas. Due to the nature of agricultural work as being seasonal and transient, the ability of employers to exploit these workers is high. Such exploitation may take the form of threats of violence and playing on vulnerabilities (i.e. immigration status). In some cases, workers are held in a state of perpetual debt to the crew leaders who impose mandatory transportation, housing and communication fees upon the workers which are high in relation to pay received, therefore further indebting the worker.
Three professors at Northeastern University will be researching on this area as part of an investigation of human trafficking in U.S. agriculture. They intend to map and evaluate the human supply chains to determine the key areas of vulnerability, with the goal of engineering ways to disrupt those trafficking systems, over the course of a three-year study. They hope to create models of disruption that can be applied to other sectors of human trafficking, which is estimated to victimize more than 24 million people worldwide.
The researchers are attacking the supply chain with an interdisciplinary approach. Amy Farrell, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, offers her expertise on on the justice system and criminal aspects of human trafficking, quoting that her research has focused on the limitations of the justice system in identifying and responding to labour trafficking in the U.S.
“One of the things that’s really cool about this interdisciplinary partnership will help us identify interdiction points beyond the justice system.”
It is found that a lot of the narratives around human trafficking is about a kind of saviour mentality, where people as bystanders feel that they should do something and takecharge. Additionally, the researchers are hoping to create more awareness for the needs and wishes of the victims—and that they should define the terms of their rescue. Despite the limitations of their data-based research, the professors believe they can make a difference.