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Rephrase the Labor trafficking can happen anywhere but is often found in these U.S. industries: Agriculture, landscaping, hotels, construction, domestic work, restaurants and seafood. January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a month when we turn special attention to raising awareness about human trafficking, but every day the Department of Labor is working to combat labor exploitation and human trafficking. Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone to compel their labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud or coercion. If anyone under 18 is induced to perform a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is force, fraud or coercion. In 2021, the department helped expose a trafficking case where more than 100 workers from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras were fraudulently brought to the U.S. through the H-2A agricultural work visa program. They were coerced into performing physically demanding work in Georgia, Florida and Texas, including being required to dig onions with their bare hands. Workers toiled for little or no pay – in some cases just 20 cents for each bucket harvested. Traffickers threatened the workers or their families with violence and deportation, forced the workers to pay illegal fees, and held them in cramped, unsanitary work camps. Traffickers exploit a worker’s vulnerabilities. Although anyone can be subjected to forced labor, some groups are at heightened risk, including foreign workers on temporary visas, people experiencing poverty and economic hardship, and undocumented workers, among others. These examples also illustrate many of the signs of trafficking: poor living conditions, debt owed to an employer or recruiter, a worker feeling pressure to stay in a work situation that they would like to leave, and more.The Department of Labor, through our work to enforce federal labor laws such as minimum wage, overtime and workplace safety laws, is often the first law enforcement agency on a worksite and in a unique position to detect and refer instances of potential human trafficking.Staff in the department’s Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are trained to look for indicators of trafficking and make referrals to other agencies. The Wage and Hour Division also calculates restitution for victims of trafficking when requested by the Department of Justice. The Department of Labor’s enforcement work is also a critical tool in addressing labor abuses and exploitation before the situation deteriorates into labor trafficking.The Wage and Hour Division and OSHA also have tools to aid workers and strengthen our enforcement work, including completing U and T visa certifications for workers who have been victims of certain crimes, including trafficking.In September, Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and the Department of Labor inducted into the Hall of Honor a group of Thai garment workers who helped expose their former employers’ abusive labor into blog format. Make sure to include proper formatting such as section breaks. 

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