Labor trafficking has the potential to affect virtually every sector of the economy– but decades of data on these cases show that in the U.S. and beyond, certain industries are host to this type of crime much more than others. Agriculture is one of those top “high risk” sectors, so much so that the McCain Institute’s Combatting Human Trafficking (CHT) program has dedicated an entire initative to develop farm-specific trafficking interventions. As the field manager for that initiative in Texas, I have seen up close how a complex web of factors conspire to make labor trafficking on U.S. farms particularly frequent and severe. Chief among these factors is the geographical isolation of victims, as well as language gaps between the impacted population and response networks in rural areas. 

Throughout the past year, an advisor to the Institute’s CHT team, Juan Carlos Jimenez Luna, has used his inside knowledge of the farm sector, as well as his experience escaping and helping prosecute a farm labor trafficking operation to help professionals of all backgrounds better understand and respond to these cases. As a part of that work, Luna recently served as both co-author and subject of a first-of-its-kind case study on how rural health care providers might at times provide medical care to labor trafficking victims without recognizing the underlying human right abuses or offering avenues to leave exploitative situations. 

“I passed out one day in the corn fields from the pesticide sprays and heat,” said Luna of his experience. “The emergency department treated my medical problems, but I left the hospital with my trafficker.”

Thanks to Mr. Luna’s advocacy, emergency medicine staff across the world are now able to read about this systemic blind-spot in one of the profession’s leading journals. The first step toward better policy and practice is better training and education. On behalf of the Institute’s CHT team, I am proud to congratulate Luna for this latest step in his career helping advance the anti-trafficking field and offer all our friends and colleagues a link below to this new open-access article. If you have thoughts or questions for Luna, the CHT team or would like to request a training, please be in touch!

 

Gonzalo Martinez de Vedia, MACJ

Program Manager, Combatting Human Trafficking

Email: [email protected]