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Trafficking of Migrant Laborers in San Diego County: Looking for a Hidden Population

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $521,962)

The goals of the proposed study are: to assess the prevalence and nature of labor trafficking among undocumented migrant populations in San Diego County; determine the demographic and social characteristics of the hidden population; determine to how key elements of deception, fraud, force, or coercion are identified in trafficking cases; examine how undocumented migrants perceive and respond to trafficking activities; and outline the policy implications for law enforcement and social service agencies to improve their efforts to combat trafficking activities and protect victims. There are eight objectives: provide statistically sound estimates of the prevalence of trafficking victimization among undocumented migrant laborers in the targeted area; investigate the types of victimization; learn about the circumstances of their migration; explore the recruitment and transportation process in which undocumented migrants are brought to the area; explore the migration patterns of migrant laborers; explore the social service and public health needs among this population; explore the extent to which traffickers are connected to other forms of organized crime; and assess the challenges of combating labor trafficking and explore possible strategies to address it.

Approximately 600 migrant laborers in San Diego County will participate in the interviews. Because the targeted population is hidden, following interviews with a small number of migrant laborers, the investigators will use a respondent-driven sampling approach to generate additional respondents until the requisite number of participants has been achieved. Initial recruitment will be done at sites where day laborers gather. Demographics of the sample cannot be determined at this time although they will be undocumented migrants.

The interviewers will partner with outreach workers from community agencies to form teams to conduct the interviews. The interview protocol will include both quantitative (structured questions including demographics, trafficking experiences, and financial situations) and qualitative questions to capture common elements as well as unique individual experiences. In addition, the investigators will interview law enforcement representatives, social service and public health officials, and community and advocacy groups.

The investigators will estimate the prevalence of a series of key indicators relating to trafficking, coercion, and deceptive employment practices, by generating a simple point estimate, confidence intervals, and standard errors. The investigators will also compile patterned responses and develop dominant and secondary themes. The data will be able to help policy makers develop effective counter measures and enhance law enforcement efforts.


Date Created: September 10, 2009