The Anti-Trafficking Coalition at Berkeley hosted the Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay, or VACCEB, on Tuesday for an immigration workshop as part of its Week of Action.
The coalition, formed in 2013 from three student-led anti-trafficking organizations, is a community of interdisciplinary student activists, academic researchers and community partners collaborating to end human trafficking, according to the coalition’s website. This year’s conference will consider the politics of trafficking, and Tuesday’s workshop, held in the Blum Center, examined the intersections between human trafficking and immigration.
The workshop, called “In solidarity: A workshop on immigration,” was led by Angela Castellanos and Adriane Stoia, who are both immigrants rights organizers at the VACCEB.
During the workshop, Castellanos and Stoia described the effects of the Trump Administration’s recent immigration laws on immigrant communities, and how after the November 2016 elections, Alameda County has responded by forming the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership, or ACILEP. ACILEP is composed of three main elements: emergency immigration legal services, the Know Your Rights workshops and rapid response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, raids.
“We’re really trying to complicate the issue of human trafficking,” said Caroline Brown, a campus sophomore and treasurer for the coalition. “Bringing in multiple perspectives on the issue, highlighting how populations become more or less vulnerable depending on their circumstances … is just one way of doing that.”
Victims of trafficking in the United States are predominantly immigrant women, according to the Human Rights Center, a research center in the UC Berkeley School of Law. These groups are particularly vulnerable because of their lower levels of education, inability to speak English, immigration status and lack of familiarity with U.S. employment protections, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Castellanos explained during the workshop that undocumented individuals are often also vulnerable to crimes such as trafficking because they are afraid to report crimes to the police. These individuals are frequently unaware of rights that protect them regardless of their status, Castellanos said.
Castellanos and Stoia also discussed ways in which immigrant allies, specifically those with legal status, can get involved in immigrant struggles. They mentioned options for volunteering as legal observers during ICE raids, documenting ICE’s behavior during raids.
“The immigrant population that is targeted by ICE is often the same population that is being trafficked,” said John Dethlefsen, a campus senior and external vice president of the coalition. “(These groups) face the same concerns.”
Other events featured in the coalition’s Week of Action have included discussions of human trafficking in the media and technology in the fight against trafficking. The coalition will also be hosting a workshop on Friday for provider burnout and self-care and will hold its final event, the Freedom in Action biennial conference, Saturday.