Immigration & Human Trafficking Committee

This Committee addresses two of the hottest topics in the labor and employment law field. The scourge of human trafficking has taken on increasing prominence as a human rights abuse that disrupts and perverts labor markets, as well as devastating the lives of individual trafficking victims. Labor trafficking – in the form of forced labor, debt bondage and other severe types of labor exploitation - now is addressed in a complex web of criminal, employment, immigration, corporate disclosure, and government procurement statutes and regulations, at both federal and state levels. It impacts the professional activities of employer, employee, and union advocates in all aspects of their work. Immigration aspects of employment, likewise, has attained ever-increasing prominence in the practice of labor and employment law, as the documented and undocumented proportion of the American labor force who are foreign born attains levels exceeding even those of the turn of the 20th Century. Responding to the needs of its membership, the Section of Labor and Employment Law is focusing more attention on both cross-border labor migration and human trafficking.

Appreciation of the intertwined aspects of work-related immigration and human trafficking led the Section to combine the Section’s previously separate Immigration Committee with its Human Trafficking Task Force. The Immigration and Human Trafficking Committee provides members with enhanced resources to address the many labor and employment issues that arise for practitioners in this rapidly changing arena. The Committee’s mission is to provide information, education and a forum for discussion regarding key immigration issues relating to labor and employment law. It also aims to assist lawyers in obtaining information about legal and regulatory developments and to identify resources on combatting human trafficking in the workplace.

Victims of human trafficking continue to experience added difficulties due to COVID-19.  The Human Trafficking Legal Center is an important resource for trafficking victims and for lawyers who wish to volunteer their services to assist them.  The Legal Center's newsletter provides up to date information on the needs of victims and the many ways in which Section members can provide pro bono help.  

View the Summer 2020 issue of Justice News here.

Immigration

Enforcement efforts by the various federal agencies regulating immigration law have increased significantly, particularly since 2017, with increased raids and proposed visa restrictions and exclusions as well as the termination of DACA protections for some 800,000 people, many of whom are now in the workforce. Labor and employment law practitioners have an ever-expanding need to familiarize themselves with immigration regulations and agency trends. To properly advise clients, whether from the management or labor perspective, attorneys must understand this fast-paced and rapidly evolving field, an increasingly daunting task.

Labor practitioners need to know about the connection between immigration status (and how it relates to national origin and ethnicity) and discrimination law. Similarly, plaintiff's lawyers need to be well-versed in the differences between discrimination based on citizenship status and discrimination based on national origin. Management lawyers and in-house counsel need to be aware of how best to counsel their clients regarding these developments, as well as how to defend against any claims that may arise. Of equal importance, counsel must be cognizant of how the government is enforcing these laws, as well as how agencies such as EEOC are able to carry out their mission in light of rapidly changing administration policy priorities.

Finally, as more and more states start creating and enforcing their own immigration laws, labor and employment counsel must understand the often complex interplay between state and federal enforcement as well as the intricacies of employing foreign nationals in multiple jurisdictions.

Whether faced with a challenging E-Verify dilemma, an investigation by the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, a worker’s compensation claim by an injured immigrant worker or an unexpected workforce visit from ICE, the Immigration Law and Human Trafficking Committee prides itself on preparing the Section’s members on how to spot immigration-related issues, access the appropriate resources and provide the best advice to their clients. In addition, the Committee directs advocates to resources that can be helpful to workers who have immigration concerns or need specific guidance about their visa status.

The Committee also provides useful, informative resources for Labor and Employment Law Section members through plenary and workshop CLE programs at Section Midwinter Meetings and the Annual Conferences that facilitate direct access to government agency officials and offer guidance from experienced practitioners. The Committee has also sponsored webinars and other informational programs and materials that explore cutting-edge policy and enforcement initiatives.

Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is a modern form of slavery; from forced labor to forced prostitution, human trafficking is an egregious human rights abuse that permeates into the world of work. Our Committee examines issues related to the national and global problem of trafficking for labor exploitation (including forced labor, debt bondage and involuntary servitude), which affects more than 20 million people each year. People seeking fair work opportunities across the globe often find themselves subjected to abusive, even slavery-like conditions, which violate criminal, labor and immigration laws as well as international conventions and treaties. In 2003, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was amended to give victims of human trafficking a private right of action to sue their traffickers. The Section encourages its members to provide pro bono assistance to trafficking victims. On our resource page you will find links to some of the important pro bono organizations who can help coordinate such pro bono work.

This global issue of trafficking for labor exploitation makes it critical for corporations to understand and responsibly manage their supply chains. In-house counsel, compliance officers and outside business counsels must be knowledgeable and able to advise corporate clients on the responsibilities now required related to efforts eradicating human trafficking and slavery in their supply chains. Statutes such as the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 in the U.S. and the United Kingdom Modern Slavery Act 2015 hold companies accountable by requiring certain companies to make a public declaration of what, if any, steps they are taking to combat modern slavery. Increasingly other U.S. federal regulations and global initiatives are including provisions requiring corporations to address the issue of forced labor. The United Nations and other international bodies are strengthening global protections for migrant workers. Consequently, practitioners supporting corporate clients must be able to help these corporations in achieving transparency in their supply chains by identifying risk of forced labor, developing preventive measure, providing training to employees and suppliers and drafting appropriate contract provisions. The Committee continues to provide education and resources on these constantly evolving issues.

Immigrant workers in the U.S. and abroad have a particular vulnerability to human trafficking. The Committee and its predecessor Human Trafficking Task Force have sponsored CLE programs outlining the applicable laws and regulations designed to eradicate the problem of human trafficking and identifying policies and training initiatives that can help eliminate trafficking at all organizational levels of businesses that use immigrant workers. The Committee continues to provide CLE and other resources for Section members who are concerned about, and involved with addressing trafficking issues – as employers, worker advocates, policy experts or other corporate or organizational representatives--or who would like to volunteer to do pro bono work in this area.

Resources

The Section's Human Trafficking Task Force will be posting news and current legal developments on this site, as well as additional materials about human trafficking issues that may be of interest to Section members. We encourage Section members to consider volunteering to do pro bono work on behalf of trafficking victims. The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center provides training and assistance to attorneys who want to offer such pro bono assistance.

Annual Section Conference Papers

 

Verité

Many organizations are actively involved in developing effective policies and training programs designed to identify and eliminate trafficking in supply chains and other vulnerable areas. One such organization, Verité, works with government agencies such as the State Department and the Department of Labor as well as private businesses. Some of Verité's materials are linked below:

International Labor Organization

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has also developed key policies and guidance and training models to assist businesses in eradicating labor trafficking. You may access some of these materials here:

Additional Resources

You may also want to look at a publication, "Human Trafficking and Business: Good Practices to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking," developed by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) in 2010.

The Department of Labor has also developed a "Toolkit" that is also a useful resource.

Co-Chairs

  • Jonathan A. Grode, Employer
  • Mary O'Melveny, Union & Employee
  • Mary Yanik, Employee
  • Marley S. Weiss, Public/Neutral/Academic