Are you a victim of Trafficking in Agriculture?
You have the right to get help and cannot be held to pay off a debt. YOU WILL NOT BE DEPORTED FOR REPORTING ABUSE. If you think you may be a victim of agricultural trafficking, contact 1-888-373-7888 for help or to talk. Help is available in your language. It is free and it is confidential.
What is agriculture trafficking?
This is a type of labor trafficking in which farmworkers are coerced through violence or threats to work in fields or farms for little to no pay. The workers are threatened with deportation, employment termination, and threats to their families. Oftentimes, farmworkers are held against their will to pay off a debt – which includes the travel to the US, food and housing.
Are you a victim of agriculture trafficking?
- Does your employer withhold payment due to a debt he claims you owe?
- Are you being paid less than what you were promised?
- Did a contractor take possession of your passport or visa?
- Are you denied water while working on the farm or in the field?
Francisco arrived in the US on a H2A work visa. As the oldest of three kids, he had come to work to send money back to his father who was sick in Mexico. His mother was tasked with taking care of his father and younger siblings on very limited resources.
A friend of his had introduced him to a cousin who worked as a labor recruiter for a contractor in NC. The cousin first explained that he would need a recruitment fee (la mordida) or bribe in order to pass his name along to the contractor. With no way to pay this fee, Francisco received a high interest loan from another relative of the contractor, who then petitioned his visa.
Once in North Carolina, Francisco was told he’d have to pay off his debt in full before he could begin earning money for himself. He was then sent to pick strawberries and be paid by the bucket. However, he is not given work every day, and he isn’t paid for days on which he doesn’t work.
After buying his food and paying “rent” to the contractor, who also provided his housing, Francisco was only able to make small payments on his debt. The contractor would even fine him a late fee for the partial payment, which increased his debt bondage. When Francisco threatened to quit, he was told he’d be reported to immigration and deported if he did. Once deported his family would be forced to pay his debt.
Frustrated, Francisco decided to go for a walk around the camp to cool off. He signed onto Facebook and saw an ad that seemed to describe his situation and included a number to call. He decided to give it a try. The person on the other end asked him questions and provided him with resources and advice to change his situation.
This project was support by Grant number 2017-VA-GX-0050 awarded by the Office of Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication, program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office of Victim’s Crime.