Flor Molina is a survivor of forced labor in the garment industry in Los Angeles, California. Through her story we learn how she was preyed upon and manipulated by the people she trusted. Flor said "After my baby died, I got so depressed and worried that what happened to my baby could happen to my other three children." Suffering from recent loss of her baby and desperate to provide for her children, Flor took sewing classes with the goal of starting her own business. Her recent loss caused her to be depressed and there was no opportunity for work in her hometown. Flor was vulnerable emotionally and economically. This is one of the most powerful tools used to entrap people. Flor state "My sewing teacher was approached by a trafficker because she knew a lot of women who knew how to sew and would be desperate to come to the United States." Flor's sewing teacher knew of her situation and had been approached by a trafficker who offered to help Flor get started in the United States. This shows the method the trafficker used to lure Flor away from her hometown. She was targeted because she had a needed skill, was vulnerable, and was easy to manipulate due to her emotional state and economic circumstances. We can also see how her family played a role in her decision to emigrate. The inability to afford medical care, had resulted in her baby's death. So, she allowed herself to be brought to the United States where she was forced to work in a slave-like environment to pay the cost of her immigration expenses. For example, she was made to work 18 hours per day, received only one meal a day, and slept in the factory's storage room on a single mattress which she shared with another victim. She was also required to live within the garment factory and was not allowed to go out without an escort. Flor said "I was enslaved for 40 days but it felt like 40 years." This was Flor's life for forty days, which she describes as an enslavement.
Her harrowing story fortunately ended well when she was offered and took help from a concerned(non -slave)co-worker. She escaped her captors by convincing them to allow her to attend Church where she contacted her co-worker. Flor was successful in gaining her freedom and has shared her story with the goal of educating others.
Flor's co-worker helped her and reached the FBI who were at that point investigating the trafficker . The FBI associated her to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), who gave her shelter and supported her throughout this traumatic incident. She became a member of CAST Survivor Advisory Caucus, one of the groups that endeavored to pass a bill in California, which requires producers and retailers in the state to reveal and ensure slavery free supply chains.
Throughout my reading I would like to find answers to the following questions:
What was Flor's immigration status- legal or illegal?
What members or companies of the garment industry are involved in trafficking?
Which vulnerable population are targeted for trafficking- country?
What are the common form of trafficking in the United States?
What are the efforts made by the government to eradicate trafficking?
Additional research is needed to answer some of these questions. I am in the process of locating other primary sources which include Maria Surez's case(listed on primary source page). I plan to include her as well as other victims' stories in my research as I continue to investigate this topic.
"'I Was Enslaved for 40 Days'." CNN. April 05,2011. Accessed February 13, 2019. http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/05/i-was-enslaved-for-40-days/.