Ana Vallejo

Ana Vallejo

I am a lawyer at a nonprofit agency, Vida Law. We focus on helping survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. Partnerships like #NeverNotWorking are vital for addressing the abuses that happen behind closed doors. And art is a powerful tool in starting conversations to raise awareness.

Unfortunately, slavery is not yet dead—not in the world and not here in the United States. Modern day slavery refers to the use of fraud, force, or coercion to keep people in forced labor situations. This practice continues because employers still benefit from exploiting others, often with impunity. Household work—nannies, housekeepers, and individuals who care for the elderly—is one of the top three groups subjected to human trafficking. But the trafficking of household workers is not reported or prosecuted enough.

The situation can only change if we all start thinking more about preventative strategies like actively reaching out to check in with people who are vulnerable—especially those individuals who are brought to the United States by employers on special visas as household workers. We need to make sure that employers keep the promises they make. And, if they don’t—if they use threats of deportation, threats of harm to the worker’s family in their home country, psychological manipulation and coercion, confiscating the worker’s passport or other documents, or physical means to obtain labor, the employers should be prosecuted.

We also could do better to regulate the industry of household labor—overall—so that all household workers have adequate protections and fair pay and so that their work is recognized as valuable labor.

I am happy to add my pledge. I will to honor household workers by continuing to provide free legal representation to individuals who are affected by human trafficking and continuing to raise awareness wherever I can.

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