But proving it is dif­fi­cult. And a report pub­lished last year by the Urban Insti­tute and North­eastern Uni­ver­sity sug­gests why: a lack of law enforce­ment resources, legal guid­ance and coop­er­a­tion from vic­tims. But Burke said if what vic­tims have expe­ri­enced cannot be proven, she at least hopes that public aware­ness will put pres­sure on those who profit from exploited laborers.

I have clients with cuts on their arms and have been burned by pans, and they sleep with bugs biting them all night long,” she said. “If you are an employer who knows those are the con­di­tions, and con­tinue to pay some­body and use exploita­tion as a form of fear, I believe you’re just as much cul­pable as any trafficker.”

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