On January 10, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, in commemoration of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, announced the creation of a new Labor Trafficking Task Force. The task force was formed between legislative sessions to study labor trafficking across the state and identify ways the Oregon legislature and other leaders can tackle the issue. According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, there have been no prosecutions of labor trafficking, under the relevant crime of Involuntary Servitude, anywhere in the state.
The task force is co-convened by Oregon Senator Kathleen Taylor and includes immigration attorneys, organized labor groups, law enforcement, district attorneys, representatives from the Mexican Consulate, and other state agencies.
“Human trafficking includes both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, but almost all of our public awareness focuses on sex trafficking. What we hear so far is that labor trafficking is very real, and it is happening under the radar in all corners of the state,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “I want this task force to dig into this terrible crime. All sources suggest we lack the tools to identify, investigate and prosecute labor trafficking in our communities. We need to change that.”
Labor trafficking may include using threats of violence and coercion to force a person to work against their will, sometimes with no or little pay or inhumane conditions. Common industries that may engage in labor trafficking include domestic servants, farmworkers, factory workers and other day laborers.
The members of the task force include:
- Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum
- Senator Kathleen Taylor, Senate District 21
- Aaron Knott, Legislative Director, Oregon Attorney General’s Office
- Kate Denison, Policy Analyst, Oregon Attorney General’s Office
- Melissa Contreras, Mexican Consulate
- Renee Cummings, Oregon Immigration Group
- John Haroldson, Benton County District Attorney
- Officer Natasha Haunsperger, Portland Police Department
- Amanda Kraus, Oregon Senate Democrat Caucus Office
- John Marandas, Marandas Sinlapasai Garcia, LLC
- Beatriz Navarro, Consul in Charge, Consulate of Mexico in Portland
- Sarah Purce, Catholic Charities Legal Services
- Sonia Ramirez, Wage and Hour Administrator, Oregon Labor and Industries
- Chanpone Sinlapasai, Marandas Sinlapasai Garcia, LLC
- Amanda Swanson, Trafficking Intervention Coordinator, Oregon Department of Justice
- Matt Swanson, NW Carpenters Union
“I’m proud to partner with the Attorney General and others to stop human and labor trafficking in our state. This critical issue disproportionately impacts women and people of color and must be addressed with a trauma-informed approach. Our agency’s job is to defend Oregonians’ civil rights and prevent exploitation, and issues of trafficking are intimately connected to that,” said Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle.
“I am grateful for the Attorney General’s leadership on this important issue. It is clear that we need to improve awareness on this problem and I look forward to working with her office and experts in order to determine the right actions to take to help victims of labor trafficking,” said Oregon Senator Kathleen Taylor.
“While significant work has been done to understand the impact of labor trafficking at the national level, there has been no organized attempt to gather information in Oregon. We hope to take a comprehensive view of the problem, and really look at how we can work to address this issue,” said Attorney General Rosenblum.
The Attorney General announced the new task force at the Oregon DOJ’s second annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day event honoring community members and state partners who are working to stop trafficking and support victims.
The Task Force will meet throughout 2020 and will make recommendations for consideration by the Oregon legislature in the 2021 session.