To curb human trafficking, clean up the foreign labor recruitment process


Credit: NPR

This summer, a new law went into effect in California that protects international workers from human trafficking and abuse by exploitative, fraudulent recruiters and employers. Applauded by human rights and pro-worker groups as a vital step forward, the California Foreign Labor Recruitment Law now requires foreign labor contractors (which recruit or solicit workers outside the United States for employment in California) to register with the state and allows businesses to use only those registered recruiters.

This new rule is especially important for California because the state’s huge economy attracts and depends on 130,000 internationally-recruited foreign workers each year — 14 percent of all nationally. It also helps ensure that ethical companies can compete fairly against exploitative employers, thus leveling the playing field for all businesses.

California is the first to enact this type of state law, according to the Christian Science Monitor. As the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) remarked, the hope is that other states and the federal government will follow suit:

“This is an important milestone for thousands of workers who desperately need its protections today.  It’s only fitting that California take the lead on foreign labor recruitment regulation since it hosts the largest population of temporary foreign workers in the country. These 130,000 documented workers represent 14 percent of the nationwide total,” said Kay Buck, Executive Director of California-based CAST, an ATEST member. “We hope that this important California legislation will be a model for other states and for critical federal legislation that will help these vulnerable workers.”

For more information, see “Human trafficking: 6 solutions that are working,” Christian Science Monitor (2016); “California remains on forefront of US human trafficking regulation,” Consumer Products Law Blog (2014); “Governor Brown Signs New Law To Combat Trafficking,” Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (2014). Also see this related post, “The right to know if global companies are profiting off human rights abuses in their supply chains” (2016).