Oregon Giving More Attention to Labor Trafficking

U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall pledged to use her power as Oregon’s top prosecutor to address the problem of labor trafficking. “I’m turning all my attention to foreign-born labor trafficking,” Marshall said. She’s dedicated an assistant federal prosecutor to a state Foreign-born Labor Trafficking Task Force to identify victims and prosecute crimes that have been difficult to discover so far.

Labor trafficking is the use of violence, threats, lies and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many different industries. Oregon adopted a law against labor trafficking in 2007. Congress adopted the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000. Among the major challenges to prosecutions: Undocumented workers are reluctant to come forward because they fear deportation. There are language barriers and a lack of trust in law enforcement.

Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum said, “It’s something we want to make sure is included, when talking of human trafficking, It kind of woke me up to this invisible crime. People feel enslaved and hidden away and isolated. These are people who don’t report. They fear authority.” Rosenblum plans to hire a civil rights outreach coordinator in her office. The person will work to develop greater trust with diverse communities, which should help in the pursuit of such labor trafficking cases.

“Very little prosecution of these offenders is occurring anywhere in the country,” Oregon State Supreme Court Judge David V. Brewer said. “We need to increase our sensitivity about this huge problem.”

Learn more at Maxine Bernstein’s The Oregonian article: Oregon’s federal prosecutor promises more attention to labor trafficking in Oregon.


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