This is a backgrounder I created for my non-profit client, Mosaic Family Services, and my PR Writing class. It defines the issue of human trafficking and important topics related to it.
Mosaic Family Services Backgrounder
Mosaic Family Services’ mission and purpose is to support, educate and empower victims of trafficking, immigrants and refugees in crisis, and the community (Mosaic Family Services). Mosaic accomplishes this through an array of services and programs that its staff provides to those at risk. In order to increase awareness and understanding about the abuse of human rights, Mosaic also actively participates in and advocates community outreach events.
Defining the Issue
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is commonly referred to as a form of modern day slavery. It describes the process of recruiting, transporting or harboring individuals for the purpose of exploiting them. Trafficked people are coerced into positions of vulnerability and servitude where they are kept against their free will and forced to perform involuntary labor or services.
Labor trafficking and sexual trafficking are defined as the two distinct forms of trafficking according to The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Exploitation through labor can include domestic servitude, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work, while sexual exploitation involves prostitution or commercial sexual services (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
Traffickers control their victims by a variety of means ranging from psychological manipulation to abduction, fraud, debt bondage, extortion, and threats and violence toward the victim and their family.
The Victims of Human Trafficking
Victims of human trafficking are largely women and children but also include teenagers and men. According to the U.S. Department of State, about 50,000 individuals are trafficked through U.S. borders annually while the number of victims trafficked internationally reaches upwards of 700,000 individuals every year.
A large issue with identifying, preventing and ending human trafficking is the concealed nature of the crime and the level of fear that surrounds its victims. “It’s not obvious, even to people that know about it. People who are trafficked usually don’t make an outcry or cry out for help, oftentimes they don’t see themselves as being victimized,” said Bill Bernstein, Deputy Director at Mosaic Family Services.
Many victims of trafficking, especially those in the United State illegally, are fearful of authorities or unfamiliar with the laws and thus are less likely to seek assistance. Even after they are released from their trafficker’s hold and influence, many victims are unwilling to communicate with authorities and divulge information about the criminal activity due to fears of retribution toward themselves and their families.
U.S. Laws on Human Trafficking
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 was the first comprehensive Federal law created in response to human trafficking. The law provides protection to victims, including those in the country illegally, while prosecuting their traffickers by making human trafficking a federal crime (U.S. Department of State). This law has been renewed three times: in 2003, 2005 and 2008.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides two types of immigration relief for victims: T Nonimmigrant Status (T-Visa) and U Nonimmigrant Status (U-Visa).
The T-Visa allows victims who are illegally in the country to remain in the United States on the condition that the victim admits to being trafficked and agrees to prosecute their trafficker pending an investigation by law enforcement authorities.
The U-Visa provides immigration protection with the same stipulations as the T-Visa to victims who sustained significant mental and physical abuse as a result of the criminal activity.
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) created provisions in U.S. immigration law that protects and aids victims of abuse and violence who are not citizens of the United States. Many victims are vulnerable to their abusers’ attacks because they must depend on their abuser to apply for the legal documents that allow them to live in the United States. In some cases, victims are able to gain lawful immigration status without first receiving a petition from their abuser. VAWA has been reauthorized twice, in 2000 and 2005, and is up for renewal by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2012.
How Mosaic Family Services Combats Human Trafficking
Through its Services for Victims of Trafficking Program, Mosaic served 109 clients in 2010. The program provides assistance through linguistic, legal and social services, counseling, employment assistance, and housing. Staff members of the program also provided 38 Human Trafficking Outreach Sessions in 2010.
Mosaic House assisted 207 women and children in 2010. Opened in 2001 as the Dallas-area’s first multicultural housing for victimized women and children, Mosaic House offers the basic necessities to its clients, including shelter, food, clothing, and hygiene and medical supplies (Mosaic Family Services).
Mosaic’s Refugee Case Management Program served 646 clients in 2010. The program helps refugees access medical and mental health care, provides assistance with psychological and cultural adjustment, and offers short-term counseling and health-related education. The program also held 12 workshops and conducted 16 community outreach events to advocate refugee rights and assistance.
The legal staff of Mosaic’s Multicultural Legal Services Program assisted 900 individuals in 2010. The program provides immigration assistance with T-Visa and U-Visa applications, VAWA petitions, and work authorization applications. The program also offers free legal services and advice in cases involving divorce, child custody, child support and protective orders.
Profile story: Mosaic Family Services and Bill Bernstein serving up 15 years of assistance and relief to human trafficking victims
I am passionate about the issues surrounding trafficking and the complete violation and exploitation of a person’s human rights. If you’re interested in finding out more about this issue, I suggest you check out Mosaic Family Services‘ website.
This is a great organization that provides an array of culturally and linguistically competent services (and there are A LOT of services that they provide) to immigrants, refugees and victims of violence. What makes this organization extraordinary is that all of Mosaic’s services are COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE.
I wrote the following story for my PR Writing class and my non-profit client, Mosaic Family Services. It was published in one of Mosaic’s newsletter and on their Facebook.
Hope you enjoy!
Mosaic Family Services and Bill Bernstein serving up 15 years of assistance and relief to human trafficking victims
Together they have significantly impacted the multicultural community of North Texas
On paper, Bill Bernstein’s day-to-day job tasks may seem strikingly similar to that of a corporate manager’s: answering many emails and phone calls, attending meetings over grant proposals, coordinating and managing various company programs. However, as deputy director of the Mosaic Family Services, Bernstein’s seemingly ordinary job responsibilities have helped to serve about 300 victims of human trafficking in the last 10 years.
Human trafficking is a silent issue that is particularly affecting North Texas as 20 percent of the nation’s trafficking victims dwelling within Texas’ border according to the Office of the Attorney General’s last human trafficking report.
Having worked with the Dallas-based non-profit organization for 15 years, Bernstein is considered an expert in the field of human trafficking and is directly involved with coordinating the many services that Mosaic’s programs provide to victims and their families of this modern form of slavery. The programs that Bernstein is in charge of, from the human trafficking and domestic violence programs to the legal services and counseling programs, all contribute to Mosaic’s mission of providing support, education and empowerment to victims and their families.
Aside from coordinating the anti-human trafficking programs at Mosaic, Bernstein is also the founder of the Texas Task Force on Human Trafficking, chairperson of the Metroplex Refugee Network and co-chair of the Freedom Network USA, a coalition of non-governmental agencies that serve as advocates for and assist survivors of trafficking in the United States.
Bernstein has had many years of experience working with domestic violence programs, and he originally entered the fight against human trafficking years ago while working at another outreach agency that serves refugees and the immigrant population. Because he was serving people from other cultures and coordinating with law enforcement, human trafficking was an obvious extension to his work. “I want to see the right thing done. I am just altruistic about the way people who have been trafficked should be served and why these cases should be uncovered and why attention needs to be given to them. It’s a human rights issue,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein, who is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a UNT alumni with a master’s in Counselor of Education, explained that his education and certifications have been important by training him how to relate to other people. This especially helps his work against trafficking as there are many difficulties with his fight against this form of modern slavery. A key issue involves people who are directly affected by trafficking. According to Bernstein, people who are being trafficked usually don’t out for help because many of them don’t see themselves being victimized.
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is commonly referred to as a form of modern day slavery. It describes the process of recruiting, transporting or harboring individuals for the purpose of exploiting them. Trafficked people are coerced into positions of vulnerability and servitude where they are kept against their free will and forced to perform involuntary labor or services. Traffickers control their victims by a variety of means ranging from psychological manipulation to abduction, fraud, debt bondage, extortion, and threats and violence towards the victim and their family.
“[Human trafficking] is very much a hidden crime. It’s not obvious and right there in the open, even to people that know about it,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein has coordinated many collaborative efforts between Mosaic and other agencies in the fight to bring information and awareness to residents of North Texas and others outside of the state’s borders. His programs work with many local and national agencies in fields spanning across social services, children services and domestic violence agencies, local and federal law enforcement, as well as refugee resettlement agencies. Through numerous speaking engagements each week and many ongoing information-related campaigns, Bernstein and his programs at Mosaic do a great deal of outreach in their proactive and direct involvement in the human trafficking cause.
Mosaic Family Services’ website states that its mission and purpose is to support, educate and empower victims of trafficking, immigrants and refugees in crisis, and the community. The organization accomplishes this through an array of services and programs that its staff provides to those at risk. In order to increase awareness and understanding about the abuse of human rights, Mosaic also actively participates in and advocates community outreach events.
Media outreach is a high priority tactic for the team at Mosaic Family Services to accomplish its mission, Bernstein said. The organization has been on the local news multiple times on both English-speaking channels and ethnic ones and was also featured in a three-part series about human trafficking that aired on Univision. His information campaigns with Mosaic also target many of the ethnic-language publications in the North Texas area.
To Bernstein, the fruition of trafficking survivors and families reclaiming their lives and independence is the most satisfying form of success.
“When we see these people get back to a position where they are in control and become self-sufficient and feel very happy after being in a tortuous situation is very gratifying to see,” Bernstein said.
While each of Mosaic’s programs has a different success rate, the trafficking program that Bernstein is the director of has served approximately 300 people in the last 10 years. Mosaic’s domestic violence program, which Bernstein is also directly involved with, has a much higher rate of about 200 to 300 people served annually for the last 14 years. Bernstein hopes to see further growth in Mosaic’s established success in service and assistance to those in crisis, as well as further expansion in the community’s awareness of Mosaic and its capabilities.
“I would just like to see [Mosaic Family Services] establish itself as the agency and the source for these types of services in the area so it’s more well-known to the public,” Bernstein said.