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CSSH researchers explore human trafficking

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A Northeastern research team of faculty and students led by Associate Professor Amy Farrell published a ground-breaking study on labor trafficking in the United States.

When Roderick left the Philippines to start a new life in Miami, he had no idea he was in the clutches of a sophisticated human-trafficking operation that would turn his existence into a living hell.

Like thousands of labor-trafficking victims brought to this country each year, Roderick, who asked that his last name not be used, entered the U.S. legally. He had a valid passport, a current work visa, and a well-paying job waiting for him. He thought he was doing everything right—work hard, live frugally, send money back to support the family. And once he paid off his debt to the employment agency, he would bring his wife and daughter to start a new life with him in the United States.

But within hours of setting foot on American soil, Roderick sensed that there was something dreadfully wrong.

He was transported to an isolated house in southern Florida and deposited in a squalid room overflowing with workers from other countries. From that day forward, he was forced to work 60-hour weeks for little pay while living under the constant threat of deportation, and fearing for both his own safety and that of his family back in the Philippines.

“We fell into a trap,” says Roderick. “I knew this wasn’t right and thought to myself, ‘I’m not going to survive here.’”

Headshot of Amy Farrell

“For most people, when they hear there is an opportunity to come to the U.S., it’s something they can’t ignore. This is the land of opportunity—it’s a chance to make a better life for themselves and their family.”


– Amy Farrell, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Roderick’s experience is far from unique, according to a groundbreaking study by a team of researchers led by Amy Farrell, associate professor of criminology at Northeastern. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and conducted in collaboration with the Washington-based Urban Institute, has been widely hailed as the most comprehensive study to date of labor trafficking in the United States. It earned national attention for its detailed investigation of how traffickers operate, the human torment they cause, and steps that can be taken at all levels of government to combat the problem.

Read the rest of the story published by Northeastern Magazine at:

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