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 Please read Chapter 1 of the textbook and watch the film Whistleblower (2010). 
After reading Chapter 1 and viewing Whistleblower (2010), answer all of the following questions:
What is your initial response to this work? What components of human trafficking does this work portray well? Does this work represent something different from what you have learned about human trafficking? Compare and contrast this work to what you have read thus far in the text. How is it effective (or ineffective) in telling its story? How might the current sociopolitical climate or events have played a role in the making of this work?  

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1 A Primer to Human Trafficking: Understanding Scope and Dimensions
Slavery is a fundamental abuse of human rights and a major obstacle to social justice. It is an affront to our humanity and it has no place in the twenty-first century. And yet [45.8]1 million women, men and children are still trapped in forced labor all over the world, generating USD 150 billion in illicit profits for those who exploit them. There should be no need for the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery to exist. However, each day, men, women and children are tricked or coerced into abhorrent situations including bonded labor, prostitution and exploitative domestic work. Global commitment to combating modern slavery has increased but current responses still fall far short of addressing the entirety of the challenge or its root causes. Ending modern slavery requires strong legislation, strict implementation, joint commitment of countries and social partners, along with effective support systems for the victims.
—Guy Ryder2
Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO)
December 2, 2015
[Trafficking in Persons and Work Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line 1.888.428.7581]
[Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline 1.888.373.7888]
1. In 2015, Mr. Ryder reported that 21 million people were enslaved. In 2016, the Global Slavery Index determined that the world estimate was updated based on a Gallup poll. The current estimate is that 45.8 million men, women, and children are enslaved in 167 countries worldwide (Walk Free Foundation, 2016).
2. International Labor Organization (Producer). (2015, December 2). ILO Director-General calls on governments to take action to end modern slavery. [Online Video] Available from— en/index.htm.
1. Learning Objectives 1.1 Students will examine a broad scope of human trafficking as a human rights problem in the United States and globally. 1.2 Students will be introduced to the definition of human trafficking, including various forms of exploitation for profit and modern forms of slavery-like practices in the United States and around the globe. 1.3 Students will appreciate the historical underpinning of modern-day slavery.
2. Key Ideas
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2. Key Ideas As you read this chapter, take note of these central ideas:
2.1 A human rights perspective has been widely used as a thoughtful framework for understanding and addressing human trafficking. 2.2 The lack of a holistic and agreed-upon definition of human trafficking has made estimating the scope of the problem challenging in the United States and globally. 2.3 Push-pull factors, rather than country culture, are better explanations for the modern exploitation of people.
Chapter Overview Human trafficking involves many antisocial and criminal traits. Definitions vary across professional disciplines and contexts. At the most fundamental level, human trafficking is about compelled service. The exploitation of women, children, and men and the violation of their human rights are at the center of that compelled service. Trafficking in people directly or indirectly impacts every country, leaving no country or community fully inoculated from its negative impact. Human trafficking includes the victimization of adults and children in the commercial sex industry and forced labor. Although sex and labor may be presented as the two major archetypes, it will soon become apparent that people are being exploited in many demoralizing, intersecting, and complex ways. This introduction chapter provides a broad overview of the research to date; policies, programs, and services; and strategies for next steps, including what is known about survivors, the professionals and organizations serving survivors, and the traffickers exploiting survivors. Subsequent chapters provide more depth on these issues, including a community response to ending modern-day slavery. Some chapters may include a factual human trafficking decision case and a selected theory or framework to position the content.
3. Decision Case
The Tale of the Paleteros3
3. This decision case was prepared solely to provide material for class discussion and not to suggest either effective or ineffective handling of the situation depicted. While based on field research regarding an actual situation, some names may have been disguised to protect confidentiality. The authors wish to thank the case reporter and the Department of Labor for cooperation in making this account available for the benefit of students and practitioners (Wolfer & Scales, 2006, p. 29).
The state capital is home to a strong representation of federal agencies. In the center of the state, the large capital city is also home to the University of Texas, three other colleges, and a thriving technology industry.
The Austin, Texas, Division of the U.S. Department of Labor Located in the complex of new and old buildings adjacent to the State Capitol building called the J.J. Pickle Federal Building, the offices of the division are split between the fifth and eighth floors. The building was built in 1965 to satisfy the housing needs of federal agencies in Austin’s Central Business District. It is an 11-story concrete structure, which includes a partially below-grade ground level and a basement level
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11-story concrete structure, which includes a partially below-grade ground level and a basement level comprising over 200,000 square feet. This building houses a suite of offices—the “LBJ Suite”—that were used by President Lyndon B. Johnson during his term in office.
The Pickle Federal Building is currently recognized as eligible for listing on the National Register Historic Places. The building was named for J.J. “Jake” Pickle, a United States Representative from the 10th Congressional District of Texas from 1963–1995. The building is part of a master facility that includes a large plaza and is connected by tunnel to the Homer Thornberry Building. The two-building complex makes a strong federal presence in downtown Austin and is near the State Capitol building. The Department of Labor shares the building with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Secret Service, Ted Cruz’s office, and Lloyd Doggett’s office. The 11-story concrete building is a pale rectangle amidst the rosy granite Texas state buildings that surround it.
Through the early 2000s, the San Antonio Division of the U.S. Department of Labor handled the investigation of labor-related cases and complaints for cities as diverse as Austin, San Antonio, and San Angelo. In 2014, the Division was split and a new Division was established in Austin to handle Austin cases and the surrounding area.
Nicole Nicole Sellers grew up in Waco, Texas, and moved to Austin as a senior in high school. She went to North Texas State University, where she was a cooperative education student from the beginning of her junior year working for the Department of Labor, which allowed her to learn about being an investigator. After she graduated, she began working full time for the department. She has been with the Department of Labor for 26 years in Texas. She is halfway through a master’s degree in counseling and shifting to statistics. In 2014, she became the Director of the Austin Division.
During the year Nicole took on the leadership of the division, a case began developing that looked like a potential incident of labor trafficking. The agency had provided staff with extensive training around labor trafficking in concert with its trainings on common illegal labor practices. Nicole recalled, “In the recent past as an Area Office, we brought a few potential trafficking cases to the Assistant U.S. Attorney but were not able to meet the preponderance of evidence for a criminal case.” After transitioning from an Area office to Division status, Nicole assumed responsibility for building and improving relationships with other law- enforcement entities that handle criminal concerns.
“We wanted to get to know our partners on the task force better and develop a better sense of who does what. We just started talking along those lines when we get this complaint. About this same time, we met with the APD officer to get to know APD, and he us.”
One of her first official visitors to the new Division office was an Austin police officer from the unit working trafficking cases. The visit began in a predictable fashion with a brief tour and description of the Labor Department’s work. Once in the conference room, the APD officer took the time to outline what the department looks for to start a criminal investigation in a labor trafficking case.
The Case:
As Nicole showed Officer Cleary around the offices, talking to him about how her staff worked, she was highly aware of how her context and role had changed within the Labor Department.
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highly aware of how her context and role had changed within the Labor Department.
“We have technicians who do complaint screening and provide information to the public, as well as investigators in the office who go out and look into various aspects of employers,” she explained. “We also do planning focused on industries with high violations and provide outreach and education to make investigations and corrective actions.”
“I don’t really understand what kind of complaints can be sent to y’all.” Officer Cleary’s Texan drawl was pronounced and easy going.
“The department focuses on preparing workers for better jobs, workplace safety and health, fair work environments, and helping workers secure job benefits. The department’s Wage and Hour Division’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce,” Nicole began. “We ensure that workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
Cleary nodded. “So investigating when someone should get time and a half for overtime and they don’t?”
Nicole nodded. Overtime pay is something easy to understand in a labor environment where the law can be complicated and detailed. “Yes, depending on how their job is classified and compensated.”
They arrived in her office and sat at the small conference table together. “I have an example of an investigation we are working on right now. A former employee was told through a friend that he would be coming from Mexico and working in a factory here in Austin. When he got here, he was actually pushing an ice cream cart. The employer confiscated his passport, which was never returned. No social security number was ever issued and he was only paid $20 a day, when he was selling up to $90 worth of ice cream each day.”
“Really?” Cleary leaned in, obviously interested. “How’d he get into the United States?”
Nicole shook her head. “Well, it’s a little complicated. You see, American companies are able to hire foreign workers legally through the H-2B laws that bring over low-skilled workers in non-agricultural jobs to do work that the employer says they cannot find U.S. workers to perform. But, there are proper procedures for that. In this case, our investigation found that the employer offered a legal job but then kept the person working here illegally in a pretty vulnerable position.”
“So, what’d you do?” Cleary asked.
“We are investigating. It sounds as if there are 50 to 60 people still working there. We might be able to get back pay for this employee.” Nicole stopped talking, because Cleary looked ready to ask a question. When no question came, she continued slowly. “The investigation also found that they housed thirteen or fourteen of them in an apartment. The situation sounded like serious exploitation, beyond just our labor laws.”
“I was just sitting here picturing the guy wandering around with the ice cream cart in my sector. You know, I always kinda wondered if it was possible to make a living that way, but I never really gave it much thought.” Cleary rubbed his upper lip absently. “Have y’all done any more investigating?”
“We have a lot of information,” Nicole said. “They’re also working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and there seem to have been some threats to families in Mexico if the workers don’t comply. We had information from a former employee that this happened almost three years ago, but the employee didn’t report it then for fear of reprisals.”
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“Three years is a long time,” Cleary said.
Nicole shrugged. “The company is still in business. There are still people selling ice cream for them from the bike carts. Others might be in the same situation. This former employee really wants his passport back. But, we’d like to get some wage restitution for him and make sure the other workers are being protected.”
Cleary rested his elbows on Nicole’s table. “You know, we might be able to help out on this thing. Let me run this past my Commander and see if we can help y’all develop an investigation with some of the other agencies. No telling what might be going on out there. These guys might be laundering drug money and not even know it.”
“During the dog days of summer in Texas and across the southwest, the ‘paletero’ – kind of like an ice cream man – is a staple in most Hispanic neighborhoods. Children and adults alike anxiously wait for the familiar tiny bells or bicycle ringer to signal a frozen piece of happiness is on its way. A paletero will walk for miles under the sun pushing around a heavy cart to sell tasty frozen paletas and ice cream treats. It’s a hard job.”
—Rodriguez, J. (2016, February 4). The Ice Cream (or “Paletero”) Man Deserves Fair Pay, Too. Retrieved from
While Officer Cleary vetted the idea of a criminal investigation, Nicole informed her regional management that the Wage and Hour Division is continuing to investigate the case. She assigned the case to an investigator, Tim Bugh. Tim was bilingual in English and Spanish and an experienced investigator. Together, they set up a phone call with the former employee’s lawyer in California to learn as much as they could about the case specifics.
In a long conference call with the lawyer, Nicole and Tim were able to confirm the information from the e- mail about the employee and request the lawyer coordinate an interview with the employee. The lawyer explained her desire to get a line on the passport’s location and any back wages.
As the lawyer wrapped up her concerns, Nicole asked, “What do you know about what happened? Has your client said anything about the current situation in Austin with others? Do we still have people trapped here in Austin?”
Nicole explained that the statute of limitations on back wages was two years. “With a trafficking component it may be longer. Even so, it’s about to expire.” She stressed the importance of having an interview with this employee soon. The lawyer agreed to facilitate that meeting for the next Saturday.
Nicole and Tim prepped for the interview on Saturday prior to the call. “We would normally want to interview a person face to face. It’s hard to build rapport and garner trust over the phone.” They talked about how important it would be to probe, use follow-up answers with more questions, and try to determine who was involved, who else was there. “You need to continue to probe until you get the specifics. Who else knows about this information? Can it be corroborated? When did it happen?” Also, to help support any criminal activity, they needed to ask questions around location, routes, living situations, and other aspects of the situation with which they might not normally be concerned.
After dialing into the call and introducing Tim and the lawyer, the conversation quickly switched to Spanish.p. 9
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After dialing into the call and introducing Tim and the lawyer, the conversation quickly switched to Spanish. The only person engaged who was not Spanish speaking, Nicole was left listening to the tone of the conversation, picking up random words, and waiting to get the story from Tim later. After seeing that the conversation was friendly and watching Tim taking copious notes, Nicole excused herself to her desk to distract herself with paperwork until the meeting closed.
Tim was on the call for nearly two hours. He came back into Nicole’s office and sat down heavily in the side chair. Although the man was not familiar with Austin and had a hard time conveying specifics, Tim had gotten excellent information from the employee. The workers were recruited in Mexico by word of mouth, transported to the United States, and settled into crowded living conditions. They were promised factory work making $11.00 per hour and sponsorship for social security numbers. Instead, they were paid as little as $2.00 an hour for 12-hour days, biking and walking up streets through the city selling ice cream novelties. Their passports were taken and paperwork was completed for social security numbers, but the passports were not returned and no social security numbers were issued to workers. Trapped in a strange city without enough income to eat on, the workers were also subjected to threats toward their families in Mexico if they complained. Often, there were men stationed near the apartments to watch the employees.
It was not a lot of information to go on, but it was enough to secure the federal identification of the employer. Nicole asked the regional office to contact Employment Training Administration and provide all of the certifications they have on employees. Under the H-2B program, the employer must apply for certifications for workers. The Regional office was able to find the certifications for the employer from 2011 (the year this employee worked), 2012, 2013, and 2014. Each year, the employer got up to 60 certifications to hire workers. Tim also had information connecting the business to rent paid for apartments, along with addresses.
When Nicole and Officer Clearly compared notes at the end of the following week, they had some names and locations, and APD had some reports of ice cream vendors being assaulted.
Cleary was satisfied there was enough information with which to move forward. APD offered surveillance. “Give us all you have and we’ll start watching them. We will put up some pole cameras at the business office. We may be able to isolate the workers and see what’s going on.” Cleary offered to coordinate a larger meeting with other agencies on the Austin Trafficking Task Force to help develop what the criminal angles of the case might be.
Police surveillance on pole cameras was not part of a routine investigation of labor law infractions. Nicole thought there must be some people to talk to, especially current workers. Yet, they were in a strange holding pattern waiting to gauge what other agencies might be part of an investigation. She kept her Regional Office informed in weekly phone calls. They counseled her to start talking to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) under the Department of Labor (DOL) to address the criminal needs of the case. On the federal side of the equation, the Department of Justice had to agree to take a criminal case to a judge. For a long week following her discussion with Cleary, the case was out of Nicole’s hands, waiting on the local end and waiting on the federal end. Although she was waiting patiently, Nicole kept up a steady stream of e-mail reminders to ensure the interests of the employees were being taken into account.
A meeting was convened between APD, FBI, Homeland, Social Security, IRS, OIG, and DOL at an APD substation. One or two people were there from each agency. Different parties had different interests in the case. There was some posturing about which aspects of the case were most important. “Law enforcement was looking for an opportunity to catch, sentence, and punish someone. Legal is interested in making a good prosecution. The IRS and Homeland had concerns about possible fraud.” Nicole felt frustrated that she had
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to keep reminding them that workers get restitution.
At the same time, the information about the case was already old—2011. Various statues and timelines were on the edge of expiration. Ongoing delays decreased the likelihood of restitution or accountability. As the conversation bounced around the room, Nicole paid close attention. If nothing else, she wanted to learn how to develop a good case. Yet, she felt impatient. She knew the regional office person was there to be the mouth of the agency in this investigation. She was frustrated with the process. “What are we doing, what are we not doing?” she thought. “Why aren’t we doing something? Why aren’t you more experienced people showing me how to proceed? Sounds like human trafficking, but we’ve actually got to do something one way or the other to figure it out.” It felt like all talking and not taking any action.
After an hour of discussion, it seemed as if the agencies were backing away from the case, primarily because the report was about something that happened nearly three years ago.
Cleary paused the conversation to say, “Look, everybody hang on. We need to try many angles and hope something will stick. Because it has to be pretty good to go much beyond this point. The reason we wanted to bring y’all here is because these are hard cases to get past the U.S. Attorney and get some action.” His frustrations were in his voice, but at the same time he was sincere in wanting everyone to stay at the table a bit longer. He showed the video surveillance tapes showing the long hours and the poor working conditions.
Nicole spoke up to mention that if the company did have current worker certifications on the books, there might be a current case here. “Because of the seasonal nature of the work, we won’t have any employees here soon,” she added. “We know those records are falsified because these employees aren’t working in a factory.”
The representatives from the Texas Workforce Commission and Homeland Security agreed that they could look into the fraud angle. Nicole wondered what the priorities were here—the civil issues or criminal interests? In fact, everyone felt like they could help, but for many it was too old. “Let us know if you find something more recent.”
“Perhaps we could interview some current employees,” Nicole suggested.
Epilogue When current employees were interviewed by the police and by the Department of Labor, their stories confirmed fraud as well as foreign labor trafficking. Further investigation revealed a practice of foreign labor trafficking in Central Texas (from San Antonio to Austin). Back wages were estimated at $400,000. Nicole recalled, “The owner went to the bank and brought a check for $325,000 and gave us the check. The next day he was arrested for visa fraud and mail fraud. He bonded out and fled the country.” They had learned how to build a trafficking case that would stick.
Later on, Nicole found out that everyone at the table with her that day was new to labor cases. This was the first labor case that was successful.
The Division subsequently added a Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialist position to manage and deliver all the outreach to stakeholders including employee groups, nonprofits, federal and state agencies, local government, the Mexican consulate, and unions. With more than 100 outreach events per year, this specialist has been critical to building relationships, credibility, and trust with stakeholders.
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year, this specialist has been critical to building relationships, credibility, and trust with stakeholders.
4. Selected Theory/Framework
4.1 Human Trafficking Through a Human Rights Framework Globally, the right to live in safety and free from exploitation are considered universal human rights. Therefore human trafficking efforts are most often considered from a human rights perspective. Human rights are concerned with the universal right to equal justice, opportunity, and dignity. Viewed as universally applicable, human rights are inherent in our nature as human beings and fundamental for a life of dignity, respect, and protection. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is seen as a watershed development in the evolution of a human rights framework, even though elements existed prior to that in religious and political movements (Healy, 2008). Created in response to World War II, the UDHR was adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1948. The Declaration provides a legal and conceptual framework for social justice and outlines civil and political rights, ensures freedom from curtailment of individual liberty, and affirms participation in social, economic, and cultural aspects of life (Healy, 2008).
While many, arguably all, of the rights listed in the UDHR apply to the complex nature of human trafficking, two stand out as overtly related to human trafficking—Articles 4 and 23. Article 4 states that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Article 23 provides for the right to work and to have free choice of employment, favorable work conditions, and equal pay for equal work (United Nations, 1948, December 10).
Additional instruments developed by the UN provide structures under which member states of the UN can address human rights violations that are connected with human trafficking. Included among the important instruments that further develop a human rights framework relevant to human trafficking is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted December 18, 1979 (with date of entry September 1981), as an international bill of rights focused on women (United Nations, 1979). The Convention on the Rights of the Child was subsequently adopted on November 20, 1989, and includes protections against the economic exploitation of children (United Nations, 1989). Specifically addressing human trafficking, the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, commonly referred to as the Palermo Protocol, in 2000 (United Nations, 2000).
Ultimately, a human rights framework provides avenues to monitor the progress of nations in attempts to eradicate, prevent, and punish violations. Overall, the move to recognize human trafficking as a human rights violation gives attention to the root causes of human trafficking and brings exploitation and its underlying structural contributors into broader dialogue (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR], 2014). According to the OHCHR (2014),
Such an approach requires analysis of the ways in which human rights violations arise throughout the trafficking cycle, as well as of States’ obligations under international human rights law. It seeks to both identify and redress the discriminatory practices and unjust distribution of power that underlie trafficking, that maintain impunity for traffickers and that deny justice to their victims. (p. 8)
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The OHCHR developed guidelines to further outline the primacy of human rights in antitrafficking efforts. One of these guidelines states: “Violations of human rights are both a cause and a consequence of trafficking in persons. Accordingly, it is essential to place the protection of all human rights at the center of any measures taken to prevent and end trafficking.” Furthermore, guidelines assert that, “Anti-trafficking measures should not adversely affect the human rights and dignity of persons and, in particular, the rights of those who have been trafficked, migrants, internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum-seekers” (OHCHR, May 20, 2002, p. 5).
4.2 Defining Social Justice Social justice is a widely used term, although it has deep historic roots in religious context, particularly with Catholic teachings (Novak & Adams, 2015). Social work has given social justice practical meaning, referring to the value and rights of all people to have economic, political, and social access and opportunities (National Association of Social Workers, 2011).
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner Appoints Special Rapporteur
Urmila Bhoola is an international human rights lawyer and former Judge of the Labour Court of South Africa. Her judicial appointment followed 20 years of work as a labor and human rights lawyer in South Africa, and she has received many awards for her human rights and gender equality work. She has also been a t
The assignment Please read Chapter 1 of the textbook and watch the film Whistleblower (2010).? After reading Chapter 1 and viewing Whistleblower (2010), has been handled previously by writers from Wridemy.

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