Photo at the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento. Hopefully more photos to come!
This post, really like all my posts, is a bit late. I swear I will keep up to date on these from now on!
Over the last two weeks, we have been incredibly busy organizing out trip to the Capitol in Sacramento. I personally got the opprtunity to manage the logistics of the agenda for the trip. Our CAST delegation ended up having a total of 14 meetings on monday! We drove 6 hours to Sacramento on Sunday afternoon, slept, met with numerous staff members of assemblymembers, ate dinner, and then drove back to LA. We didn’t arrive home until 2am on Tuesday morning. Hence the reason for my late post: I’m pretty tired.
Despite being crazy busy and rather tiring, the trip was amazing. We advocated for bill SB 516 to regulate foreign labor recruiters and stop abuse of workers by illegitimate foreign recruitment agencies. This is so important, as at least half of all labor trafficking victims are trafficked through recruitment agencies abroad. This bill would make sure that businesses in the US only contract foreign labor through legitimate agencies, that the workers are not charged illegitimate costs, and that the employer has to lay out a contract in the worker’s own language. Currently, clients sometimes come to CAST with a pay stub for 18 cents as a result of all the “legitimate,” and actually totally legal, deductions to their salary. We want to make sure that people are fully aware of what their situation will be in the US before they agree to come. This would be a huge step towards stopping the cycle of debt bondage and enslavement in California. As a sixth of temporary workers coming into the US enter in California, this would make a huge impact nationally. This bill will hopefully keep moving forward: it just passed in the Labor Committee this afternoon! SB 738 focuses on ensuring that minors ho have been trafficked by a third party are taken in by the Child Welfare System rather than the Juvenile Delinquency System. Currently, these victims are put more frequently into the delinquency sector as there are no programs to serve them in the welfare system. The bill would bring minors who are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and become a dependent of the court if no specified program is available. It would also give better training to workers in the Child Welfare System to better serve victims of human trafficking. This program would be a good first step to securing greater rights and aid for minors traffickied into both labor and sex slavery. Minors should not be punished for crimes committed while being trafficked and coerced by a third party.
We had a group of four women from our Survivor Leadership Caucus come to share their stories and speak about the importance of bills SB 516 and SB 738. Their stories impacted many staff members and really made a difference in their views on the bills. Their stories are so incredible, and it was an honor to watch them share them with so many people. I had such an amazing experience in Sacramento. Stephanie, our Policy and Legal Director, even let me explain the bills and run the meeting with one of the staff members. Since I am considering a future in policy, I felt so grateful to be given tha experience. It was a great look into how the state government really works and how it can impact all of the US and really the world. This issue is so often overlooked, and we need to do so much to change that.
With this trip, I felt a bit more like change can actually be made if people really make an effort.