Survivors of Trafficking to Share Stories of Resiliency as Federal, State and Local Officials Announce Plans to Increase Enforcement Efforts

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – January 11, 2010 – On the heels of President Obama’s declaration of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) today announced the launch of its inaugural “From Slavery to Freedom” campaign to raise awareness of slavery and human trafficking in the Greater Los Angeles area, the U.S. and around the world.  The goals of the campaign are to encourage victims to seek help by letting them know they will not be treated as criminals, inform the general public about the existence of modern-day slavery and motivate them to take action, and inspire a national movement to eradicate slavery and human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a serious problem right here in the United States,” said CAST Executive Director Kay Buck.  “It is unfathomable that nearly 150 years following the abolition of slavery in the United States, there are a at least 17,000 people who are trafficked into the U.S. every year, with Los Angeles serving as one of the top three points of entry.”

“From Slavery to Freedom” is a month-long series of more than 20 events between January 11th, in recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and February 12th, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.  The campaign has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the S, Mark Taper Foundation, Humanity United and the DHHS Administration for Children and Families' Office of Refugee Resettlement.  CAST has secured and coordinated the support of 13 partners ranging from human rights and legal aid organizations to law enforcement and faith based groups, all of whom are committed to ending slavery and trafficking in the United States. 

“I applaud CAST’s leadership against the scourge of modern-day slavery in all of its forms and its work in providing essential services to human trafficking victims,” said Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State. “From Slavery to Freedom” campaign is an important effort to achieving our overall goal of ending slavery once and for all.  A key partner in the greater Los Angeles area and throughout the United States for over a decade, CAST’s efforts help move us closer to realizing America's promise of liberty that every person, no matter their national origin or standing in society, is guaranteed the most basic human right -- freedom.”

The California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) recently announced the award of $2.7 million dollars in funds to the current task forces in California which target the practice of human trafficking.  They will also establish two new task forces as part of the efforts to eliminate human trafficking in California. 

“There are few things, if any, more heinous than the scourge of human trafficking,” said Matthew Bettenhausen, Secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency.  “Governor Schwarzenegger’s actions have given California legislative progress in fighting these crimes and First Lady Maria Shriver has elevated the issue for all to see.  Now, we at Cal EMA stand determined to deliver this funding and lead the effort to make sure victims are taken care of and those who profit from and promote these horrible atrocities are brought to justice.” 

Partners in the Campaign and Event Highlights
CAST specializes in coalition-building and has brought together a first-of-its-kind group of law enforcement agencies, federal and state government agencies and human and legal aid organizations,  as partners in the “From Slavery to Freedom” campaign in order to reach the most number of people.  Partners include:

• California Rural Legal Assistance:  
• CARECEN (Central American Resource Center):
• CHIRLA (Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles):
• Department of Homeland Security: 
• East/West Players: 
• Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance:  
• L.A. Metro Task Force
• Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles:   
• Líderes Campesinas:   
• Los Angeles Police Department:  
• Mexican Consulate
• Museum of Tolerance:
• National Hispanic Media Coalition:
• Para Los Niños:   
• Pilipino Workers Center:    
• State Department – Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Office: 
• Thai Community Development Center:

Following today’s launch of the campaign on human trafficking and slavery, there will be more than 20 events taking place throughout the month ending on February 12th, President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.  A full listing of “From Slavery to Freedom” events can be found at, highlights include:

• January 11th 11am: : Press Conference at the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) as human trafficking survivors law enforcement, faith based groups and non-governmental organizations join together to launch the campaign.  
• January 21st: East/West Players reading of a play that deals with the subject of slavery and human trafficking, at The National Center for Democracy
• February 2nd: Public Debate on supply chain bill SB 657, National Center for Democracy
• February 12th: Campaign concludes on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday with the Emancipation Concert at the Conga Room and Emancipation Proclamation by the City of Los Angeles

 • Continuous events that will take place during the month include:  weekly presentation by members of CAST Caucus of Survivors at the MOT’s guest speakers’ series; Mural and Quilt inspired by survivors will be in exhibit at MOT throughout the month; Jamba Juice and Body Shop support CAST’s efforts at selected locations throughout Los Angeles.

The Keys to Freedom
The key to ending modern-day slavery is in the hands of every Los Angeles resident, and everyday citizens can take action and “Say NO 2 Slavery” by:

• Calling CAST’s 24-hour hotline 1-888-KEY-2-FRE(EDOM), if you or someone you know is a victim of slavery and trafficking.  The CAST hotline provides immediate emergency support from expert staff and trained volunteers. 
• Becoming a modern-day abolitionist by volunteering, donating or learning more about the issue and by visiting
• Urging consumers to stop supporting companies and industries that rely on slave labor and start supporting state and federal legislation that will force corporations to eradicate slave labor from their supply chains.

CAST, the leading organization working with and for trafficking victims and survivors in the Los Angeles area was established in the aftermath of the 1995 El Monte sweatshop case, which involved 72 Thai garment workers held in slavery. Its mission is to assist persons trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and slavery-like practices and to work toward ending all instances of such human rights violations. CAST is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual human rights organization that has been nationally and internationally recognized for its dedication to the identification of victims, mobilization of all sectors of the community to identify and advocate against trafficking, and provision of direct services to ensure that victims receive appropriate services and assistance to recover from their trauma.