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Institute for Policy Studies
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  • December 4, 2013

    American Association of University Women (AAUW)

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     “Human trafficking is a violation of human rights where an individual is forced or tricked into work and unable to leave for any number of reasons,” says Tiffany Williams, advocacy director at the Institute for Policy Studies Break the Chain Campaign.

    But the challenges to ending trafficking are many. Part of the problem, says Williams, is that there are stereotypes about who can be a victim—typically young girls tricked into sex slavery—when in reality, “human trafficking can occur within any age, gender, occupation, or education level.” She cites Cruz’s case to support her point.

    We have to ask ourselves, says Williams, “Why do people continue to be vulnerable? What structural problems do we have as a society that allows people to slip through the cracks?” These root problems make it easy for traffickers to evade arrest and to confuse potential allies. For example, although trafficking victims don’t have to be transported, many are, which raises immigration questions. And victims engage in illegal activities—prostitution, working without proper authorization or documentation—that can throw off police or immigration officials who lack proper training.

    Williams points to tensions within the anti-trafficking movement that are also hampering progress. “There is a divide between the human rights approach, which is more about allying with survivors, understanding the environment that led them to this place, versus the victim-saving approach, which looks at swift and immediate rescue as the primary goal.”

    Williams encourages AAUW members and branches to get involved in the fight against trafficking. “We need allies who have the resources and brainpower to break us out of the Band-Aid approach,” she says. “Reflect on the complex causes, on how we can respect autonomy and still provide services, and where our voices can make the most impact when it comes to effective prevention.”

  • November 27, 2013

    OtherWords

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    "The new film Sunlight Jr. starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon so accurately portrays the difficult yet mundane lives of a working poor family in Florida that I was struck with a mix of discomfort and catharsis. I saw parts of my own life reflected on the screen.

    Sunlight Jr. follows a relationship between a weary convenience store clerk, Melissa, and her achingly flawed boyfriend Richie. Living in a weekly rate motel, they struggle to make do on his disability checks and her tenuous job.

    Having grown up poor on Florida’s Gulf coast, I found the film chilling- not because the poverty shown was overly dramatic, but because it was the subtle, seeping kind of poverty that permeated my childhood."

  • July 18, 2013

    The Daily Beast

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    The National Domestic Workers Alliance recently launched an initiative called Beyond Survival to support domestic workers who have survived labor trafficking to shape the public policy that could transform the future for workers vulnerable to trafficking.

  • July 2, 2013

    Foreign Policy In Focus

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    "In the summer of 2011, I visited a community organization in Georgia to hear the testimony of immigrant women who had been impacted by anti-immigrant legislation recently enacted in the state. As a social worker, I listened in horror as a counselor at a domestic violence service center noted a sharp decline in women coming to the center since the state had passed its draconian new anti-immigrant measures.

    When I came home I called colleagues at programs in other states, and they confirmed that it was something they were noticing too. Immigrant victims of domestic violence were terrified of deportation and potentially being separated from their family, so they were not coming forward to report the abuse to the police or otherwise get help. Immigrant women should not have to choose between suffering from abuse and facing separation from their families, yet because they are terrified of the very real threat of deportation or detention, many silently suffer.

    This phenomenon is just one example of how the U.S. immigration system—and efforts to reform it—can impact women differently from men. While much of the U.S. immigration debate has centered on controversies over citizenship and “border security,” less attention has been paid to the enormous impact of immigration policies on women, who make up 51 percent of undocumented immigrants and face unique challenges as they try to make a living in a new country..."

  • April 2, 2013

    U.S. News & World Report

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    Tiffany Williams, advocacy director for the Institute for Policy Studies' Break the Chain Campaign, a D.C.-based migrant workers' rights organization that's also part of Freedom Network, says she and other social workers are seeing "more fear and reluctance" about coming forward, particularly in states with aggressive immigration enforcement laws, like Arizona and Georgia, and since the expansion of the Secure Communities initiative, a federal fingerprinting program to identify undocumented immigrants. "What we've seen on the ground is that the more aggressive they are with these [enforcement] programs, where they're allowing local police to arrest people for being undocumented, the more that the Secure Communities programs and others are growing, the less likely it is that an immigrant survivor would be willing to come forward and ask for help," Williams says, referring to victims of trafficking and other crimes.

    "It impedes our work significantly," she adds.

  • February 11, 2012

    Progressive Charlestown (RI) features article “Those Bad Old Days Are Still with Us”

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  • February 10, 2012

    The (Easton, MD) Star Democrat features article “Those Bad Old Days Are Still with Us”

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  • February 7, 2012

    YubaNet features article “Those Bad Old Days Are Still with Us”

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  • December 23, 2011

    San Francisco Bay Guardian

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    Tiffany Williams of the Institute for Policy Studies says raising the minimum wage "would be a step toward restoring dignity for millions of workers, enabling many ordinary working Americans to become part of the economic recovery rather than its collateral damage."

  • October 27, 2011

    The Washington Post

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    "These children have no ability to defend themselves if things go awry,” said Tiffany Williams, advocacy director of Break the Chain Campaign, a Washington-based group that advocates on behalf of foreign domestic workers.

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