This story was originally published in Builder.
A new report breaking down instances of sex and labor trafficking in the U.S. has included construction as one of the top 25 industries where trafficking commonly takes place.
In its report, the nonprofit anti-trafficking group Polaris details the unique trafficker profile, recruitment tactics, victim profile, and method of control for each subset of modern slavery. Researchers analyzed more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking to develop a classification system that identifies 25 types of modern slavery, including construction, landscaping, domestic work, and traveling sales crews.
The report relies on data gathered from Polaris-operated hotlines between December 2007 and December 2016. During that time period, Polaris received reports of 32,208 cases of potential human trafficking and 10,085 potential cases of labor exploitation. Of these, 144 instances of human trafficking and 405 instances of exploitation were found associated with the construction industry.
The report says that labor trafficking in the construction industry usually occurs within small contracting businesses completing tasks such as roofing, carpentry, welding, electrical work, and masonry on both large commercial construction sites as well as in private homes. Employers may misclassify workers as independent contractors, thus limiting their access to worker protections and benefits, according to the report.
The majority of trafficked construction workers are men from Mexico and the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala), most of whom have H-2B visas or are undocumented. U.S. citizens have also been forced to perform construction jobs under the control of fraudulent religious organizations, unscrupulous residential and drug recovery programs, and individuals posing as landlords exploiting a victim’s homelessness, it says.
“Perpetrators of human trafficking often operate in the shadows, making it a challenge to interrupt the systems that support them,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman. “This report provides a comprehensive look at the typology of modern slavery that will help prosecutors protect victims and pursue criminals.”
Funding for the report was provided through a grant from Google.
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