Virtual Freedom Network Event Agenda

Climate Change and Human Trafficking: Adapting Anti-trafficking Practices, Protections, and Services to Environmental Migrants

With 10.8 million environmental migrants displaced globally within the first half of 2019, displacement due to deteriorating environmental conditions and natural disasters will continue to increase as the climate worsens. Significant research suggests levels of human trafficking within the environmental migrant population, both abroad and nationally, will continue to rise as the climate warms, leaving millions vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. This session will explore research, trends, and projections in regards to the intersection of climate change and human trafficking. Attendees will hear from experts in this emerging field and participate in break-out workshop groups to share ideas and deliberate on how to best incorporate climate change considerations into their anti-trafficking initiatives.

Reclaiming Migrant and Trafficking Narratives

This session will offer effective media strategies for reframing current narratives on immigration and human rights. The discourse on human trafficking relies on rhetorical strategies that problematically, even if unintentionally, further anti-immigrant policies and practices. This workshop is suitable for both anti-trafficking responders with limited experience working with media, and for those looking to deepen their existing communications strategies. This session will begin with a brief example of how anti-immigrant policies and laws have been recently passed in the name of anti-trafficking efforts, followed by a discussion of media representations of immigration and trafficking. Then the workshop will cover the different professional standards and obligations of journalists, legal practitioners, and social service providers, and how those practices can affect the safety and well-being of survivors. The last part of the session will highlight effective media strategies for advancing rights-based narratives about human trafficking.

Affirmative Defenses for Compelled Criminal Conduct: Panacea or Problematic?

vThis session will explore a rapidly developing area of criminal law – affirmative defenses to criminal charges for victims of human trafficking. While widely touted as helping to prevent criminalization of victims, the panel will examine both the benefits and pitfalls of affirmative defenses. Consistent with the conference theme, this session will look at whether affirmative defenses should be considered a promising new approach or whether they serve to instantiate problematic practices. The panel will begin with a basic exposition of what an affirmative defense is, and how it is asserted, for those less familiar with criminal practice. From there, the panel will assess pragmatically whether and when a survivor would be able to assert an affirmative defense and what risks flow from that decision. Finally, the panel will help stakeholders understand the role of affirmative defenses in larger efforts to prevent the criminalization of survivors and determine best practices for legislation and implementation.

Advanced Immigration Issues Part 1: T Visa Adjudications

This panel is part of a two-part series regarding trends and best practice tips for providing immigration representation to trafficking survivors. Part 1 will focus on common reasons for Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Denials of T visas as well as legal strategies for filing Motions to Reopen/Reconsider and Appeals (I-290Bs) in the current political climate.

Unaccompanied Minors: Facing Exploitation Before, During and After Migration

Presenters will describe the unique needs, services, and remedies available to unaccompanied minors who have experienced human trafficking in the U.S. or in their home country. The participants will learn from experienced social service and legal practitioners who have been innovative in their approach to assisting unaccompanied minors, in detained and non-detained settings. While the focus of this setting will be on foreign-born youth, the presenters will address the issue in looking at its impact on female, male and LGBTQ survivors of both sex and labor trafficking.

Addressing Child Trafficking in Florida: Policy, Practice, and Research

Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) has investigated allegations of human trafficking since 2009, with separate allegation categories for sex and labor trafficking established in 2013. This session will provide an overview of Florida’s policies and the state’s response to human trafficking of children, based on recent and ongoing research by RTI International in collaboration with DCF. Topics include the characteristics and child welfare experiences of more than 6,000 children with investigated human trafficking allegations, trafficking victimization among children who run away from foster care, characteristics of more than 500 investigated allegations of labor trafficking, and crossovers between the child welfare and juvenile justice populations. Research data will provide context for descriptions of Florida’s service response to trafficked youth.

Building Bridges to Education and Employment Opportunities

Acquiring and maintaining quality employment is often a significant challenge for survivors of human trafficking due to the complex consequences of abuse and education and workforce systems that were not designed to be responsive to the needs of individuals experiencing trauma. Futures Without Violence will share promising practices and insights from innovative cross-sector partnerships, including FUTURES’ Promoting Employment Opportunities for Survivors of Trafficking (PEOST) Project, to help participant better identify and build relationships with local workforce development programs and integrate trauma responsive, resiliency building practices into education, training, and employment support programs.

Exploring how Economic and Consumer Law Issues Arise for Trafficking Survivors

There is no safety without economic security. Survivors of human trafficking face a variety of challenges related to their victimization. These challenges include the legal consequences of economic abuse. Economic abuse and consumer rights legal issues are real threats to a survivor’s lasting safety and stability. These include damaged credit, coerced debt, identity theft, lack of access to financial institutions, and much, much more. The purpose of this session is to (1) train attendees in a Survivor Centered Economic Advocacy framework and economic/consumer legal issues and (2) engage attendees in a discussion to assess how that framework applies to survivors of trafficking, labor exploitation, and individuals involved in commercial sexual exchange. Attendees will learn from the shared expertise in the room about some of the following: what are consumer rights issues for survivors? How can the many players collaborate on these issues moving forward? What are the strategies that advocates/attorneys are using to address those issues? What are survivors experiencing with regard to consumer issues or broader economic insecurity? How have advocates, attorneys, law enforcement, and other actors seen economic abuse, financial exploitation, and consumer remedies in their own work?

Advanced Immigration Issues Part 2: Removal and Detention of Trafficking Survivors

This panel is part of a two-part series regarding trends and best practice tips for providing immigration representation to trafficking survivors. Part 2 will focus on legal strategies for representing survivors in removal proceedings and detention and strategies for preventing their removal. Panelists will also discuss tips for advocacy outside of the courtroom.

Housing Solutions for LGBTQ+ Survivors

Housing is critical to ensure the safety of survivors of trafficking. LGBTQ individuals are often excluded from housing programs, have high rates of experiencing homelessness, and have heightened vulnerability to being exploited. During this session we will discuss the challenges that LGBTQ survivors face on access to safe and stable housing. Participants will learn of successful housing models to ensure access and safety for individuals from the LGBTQ+ community.

Wage Recovery for Survivors of Labor Trafficking

Survivors of labor trafficking have most certainly also survived wage theft. For some survivors, the goal of recovering unpaid wages takes primary importance in their fight for justice. The recovery of unpaid wages can be pursued through government administrative processes and investigations and/or civil litigation. Come hear from a survivor, a government investigator, and two workers’ rights attorneys about the strengths and weaknesses of each forum and process, and why prioritizing wage recovery should be front and center in securing justice for trafficking survivors.