Trafficking and abuse of migrant laborers may be more common than local law enforcement believes, according to a new federally-funded study .
Researchers conducted interviews and surveys between 2010 and 2012 with farmworkers and stakeholders in North Carolina, and found a dramatic difference in perceptions about criminal exploitation.
While law enforcement personnel believed that farmworkers were treated well, outreach workers and farmworkers reported frequent abuse. About one-quarter of farmworkers were likely to have witnessed trafficking.
Nearly 40 percent reported other abuses.
“The most common type of exploitation was abusive labor practices (34%), followed by deception and lies (21%), restriction and deprivation (15%), and threats to physical integrity (12%),” researchers wrote.
Each type of victimization was less likely to be reported in counties with moderate and large Hispanic populations than in those with small Hispanic populations.
Researchers recommend law enforcement training to identify and pursue instances of trafficking and exploitation.
“Relentless and high-profile prosecutions are needed to reaffirm the government's determination to stop trafficking violations and project deterrence throughout the business community,” researchers wrote.
Read the study HERE.