End Human Trafficking and the Dependence on Slave Labor

Written by Michelle Manivel

The violence of human trafficking does not discriminate. It is carried out against men, women, children, elderly, and all ethnicities. It is a broad term used to describe the exploitation of people through force, coercion, or deception to perform certain activities for little to no benefit.  Human trafficking of all forms, in all countries, must end now.  

What types of human trafficking are found in the US and Latin American communities?

  1. Forced labor: work by a person under threat of penalty, when the person has not offered him- or herself to do it voluntarily

  2. Sex trafficking: recruitment, transportation, and holding of people for the purpose of sexual exploitation

  3. Child labor: work that deprives a child from reaching full potential either mentally or physically

Where is it found?

Everywhere. Human trafficking occurs domestically and across international borders. It can be found in hotels, farms, restaurants, and even people’s homes. Many times, people are brought to the US on bribes that go unfulfilled. While it has been found that worldwide there are roughly 21 million people who are victims of forced labor, there is no official report on the numbers of impacted individuals in the US.

How does the effort to end human trafficking align with IFCLA’s values?

We believe that every individual has the right to fair wages and to a safe and nurturing work environment that enables people to thrive and be successful in the work they do while honoring their inherent human dignity. We advocate for safe environments, working benefits, and appropriate age restrictions for the type of work being performed. With the philosophy of working as a human right, the dignity of laborers should also be protected in all employment practices, whether it be the environment, safety, or adequate compensation.

We strive to protect small businesses to ensure that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other multinational trade agreements and organizations do not infringe upon the rights of small businesses and the dignity of those who run them.  

What does it have to do with NAFTA and the new USMCA?

It is important to understand the differences between NAFTA and United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

  • NAFTA:

    • Is currently active

    • Talks started in 1991, but officially launched in 1994 (Clinton Administration)

    • Before including Mexico, it was just an agreement between the US and Canada

    • Eliminated tariffs and many restrictions (except agriculture with Canada), growing and expanding our international interdependence as well as enabling a more fluid border in terms of goods and services (but not people)

    • Intends to promote fair competition within countries, but often skews this framework

    • Expanded the power of big multinational corporations over other companies, governments, and citizens

  • USMCA:

    • Will go into effect following implementation of the bill (Trump Administration)

      • Expected in January 2020

    • Renegotiation of trade agreements with the US, Canada and Mexico

    • Gives better opportunities for trade with the US, specifically surrounding cars

    • Modernizes and strengthens agriculture and food trade

    • Overall, seems to benefit the US more than Canada or Mexico

Selling products to the US from Mexico has become a lengthier and more difficult process.  Before implementing the use of certification of Fair Trade, the US’s market had been impeding on the processes and made it more difficult for the international producers to obtain equal pay.  Fair Trade agreements seek to ensure that people get adequate compensation for their work and seek to ensure safe working environments - direct responses to the failures of so-called free trade agreements. In a globalized world, with global economies and the rise of multinational corporations, we have blurred international boundaries and the separation they typically define. However, free trade agreements fail to honor the dignity of all and limit the ability for workers and their families to move across international boundaries while facilitating the movement of goods and services that necessitate labor movement as well. Fair trade agreements are the humanitarian response to the harmful consequences of free trade and globalized economies that favor profit over people.


What can I do to help people work in healthy and safe environments?