AALDEF's Anti-Trafficking Initiative, launched in October 2005, provides free legal representation to trafficked and exploited women and youth workers. In addition to the protections that exist for all workers in the U.S., federal and state laws protect and support survivors of trafficking. According to the federal government, hundreds of thousands of victims are trafficked across international borders each year, and tens of thousands are currently trafficked into the U.S. As many as one-third of these individuals -- the largest group -- are from Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or threats against a person in order to make her work against her will. Trafficking may occur in a commercial industry (such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, restaurant work, domestic work, or commercial sex work) or in a private context (such as a forced marriage). Forced to work for very little or no pay and with restricted access to the outside world, trafficking survivors often live in extreme isolation and fear coming forward to seek help.
AALDEF's Anti-Trafficking Initiative currently has educational resources available in 12 languages: English, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Punjabi, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese. Brochures and quarter-sheet palm cards are available for download below:
AALDEF represents trafficking survivors from a variety of industries, including domestic work. In February 2010, AALDEF submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of a domestic worker who filed a suit in Swarna v. Al-Awadi with claims of abuse and employment violations against a former Kuwaiti diplomat, his wife, and the state of Kuwait. Ms. Swarna appealed the district court's decision to dismiss the case against the state of Kuwait under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and defended the lower court's decision to deny the former diplomat and his wife diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. AALDEF, the ACLU Women's Rights Project, and 11 other organizations argued the defendants were not entitled to diplomatic immunity because Ms. Swarna filed her suit against them after the diplomat left his diplomatic post, and engaging in human trafficking is a commercial activity which deprives a diplomat of immunity protection. In the June 2009 decision in the case, Baoanan v. Baja, AALDEF overcame the defense of diplomatic immunity claimed by a former Philippine diplomat and his wife.
AALDEF is a member of the New York Anti-Trafficking Network (NYATN) and the Freedom Network USA. In collaboration with members of the NYATN Legal Subcommittee, AALDEF developed the following resources for advocates and practitioners who represent trafficking survivors in their applications for immigration relief:
Identification and Legal Advocacy for Trafficking Survivors (3d ed.): T Visa Manual
This program is made possible in part by grants from the Oak Foundation and The New York Bar Foundation.