Since Donald Trump assumed the presidency of the United States on January 20, 2017, we have witnessed daily news reports of immigrant communities and communities of color being criminalized and targeted by his agents. In the current climate, we anticipate that the labor rights protecting survivors will only deteriorate. Employers seeking to prey upon the most vulnerable among us will only be emboldened, leading to even more dangerous conditions for domestic workers and other workers in low-wage sectors. As police are increasingly embroiled in immigration enforcement, fewer community members will seek help and safety from law enforcement.
The findings in the report, The Human Trafficking of Domestic Workers in the United States, have been quantified from data collected from six NDWA member affiliates who anchor the Beyond Survival campaign and work closely with domestic worker survivors of human trafficking. The data from these organizations reveal the depth and nature of trafficking in the domestic work sector, and shed light on the specific forms of exploitation often faced by trafficked domestic workers. Among the 110 cases of domestic worker trafficking reported across all six affiliates, our findings show that:
- 85% of domestic worker trafficking survivors report having pay withheld or being paid well below minimum wage
- 81% have lived in abusive living conditions
- 80% have been tricked with false or otherwise de – ceptive contracts
- 78% have had employers threaten to report them for deportation if they complain
- 77% report having their movements restricted or monitored by their employers
- 75% experience isolation from the outside world, with employers cutting off access to communication
- 74% report having experienced emotional or verbal abuse by their employer
- 73% report working excessive overtime, more than 48 hours per week
- 66% report having experienced physical or sexual abuse, either by their employer or a family member of their employer
- 62% report having their passports or other ID taken away from them by employers
- 45% report being in fear of physical harm if they were to try to leave their employment situation
This report establishes that domestic workers experience labor conditions that are often indicators of the most extreme form of labor exploitation – human trafficking; that resources are needed to meaningfully address the needs of survivors and support their leadership development; and that federal policy changes are needed to effectively hold traffickers accountable and prevent the human trafficking of domestic workers.