AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Freedom in the 806 Anti-Trafficking Coalition is taking on a new initiative to combat a specific type of trafficking in the region.
They’re adopting the Buffet-McCain Institute Initiative to Combat Modern Slavery, a three-year effort to tackle this issue in agricultural work environments.
“We’re working in the Panhandle and in the South Plains to bring education to the community about labor trafficking, about what it is and what it looks like we’re taking a victim-centered approach to help bring justice to any victims of labor trafficking,” said the Labor Task Force Coordinator for the initiative Lus Serrano.
She said labor trafficking can come in many forms, making it hard to identify, hard for victims to come forward, and hard to prosecute.
“A lot of the times what happens is that we have H2A contract workers who are brought over to work in one area for one farmer on one site,” said Serrano. “And what’s happening is that they’re being moved around to other sites and that’s in violation of their contract.”
“Food, transportation, health, those things are not being met and so it can look like that as well,” said Serrano. “It can also look like their documentation being withheld from them as a threat for them to do the work and to not complain when they’re not being treated fairly.”
The coalition is moving forward by forming subcommittees.
They'll focus on prevention and awareness, protection and prosecution, partnership and program evaluation and labor trafficking.
“That’s why we’ve developed these subcommittees,” said 806 Acts Outreach Coordinator Ashley Jourdan. “So from identifying gaps in our community and resources to doing prevention and awareness to labor trafficking awareness, that’s why we formed the subcommittees so we can be more action-focused now.”
Serrano said the subcommittees are open to anyone in the community who wants to help the victims who exist here in our region.
“They’re hidden, you don’t see them. They’re off in rural areas working on farms where they’re not seen, where maybe they can’t go somewhere for help if they need it.,” she said. “And so we have to be the people who step up and look for them and and are able to assist them once they are found.”
For more information on the Freedom in the 806 coalition and to join a subcommittee, contact Family Support Services at (806) 342-2500.