NEED HELP? Call CAST’s 24-Hour Hotline    
888-KEY-2-FREE (888-539-2373)    

Let’s Go to the Movies:  A List of Human Trafficking Movies Compiled by Survivors

In response to the Sound of Freedom movie, survivors of human trafficking have compiled a list of movies exploring broader aspects of trafficking that are often overlooked. This list is focused on the root causes of human trafficking and was vetted by survivors around the world. Root causes include lack of housing, poverty, immigration policy, incarceration, racism, transphobia and homophobia, misogyny, the stigma that trafficked boys and men face, familial child trafficking, MMIP, police violence, religious abuse, child marriage, reproductive rights, access to healthcare, and many other intersecting factors.

This list will be evolving as a living document. Please help support survivor-centered narratives and storytelling and share this on your networks.

Human Trafficking Movies Compiled by Survivors

Join Us: Working Together Against Human Trafficking

Sunday, July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, and this year’s theme is to leave no one behind. As people and organizations working to end human trafficking daily, this rings true for us. You may have recently seen or heard about the new movie Sound of Freedom, and want to know what you can do next to support survivors. The film has been controversial for good reason. Human trafficking is a complex experience and can look very different in each case. As the experts, we are stepping up to help you learn more about human trafficking and find the best ways to get involved.

Join us on Instagram, on September 6th, to ask questions of the experts and get the information you need to make an impact! But you may be asking yourself, how can I help in the meantime?

Demand Constructive Congressional Action
There aren’t many moments when a phone call can make a difference on Capitol Hill, but we’re in one now. The International Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2023 (S. 920) coordinates many U.S. government programs against human trafficking, ensures survivor experts are heard at the highest levels, and supports nonprofit organizations working on the frontlines around the world. It’s bipartisan and not controversial, but like all laws it needs a push to pass. Be the push. Make a call. Find your representatives by state/zip: Senate | House. While you’re at it, let Congress know that proposals to reduce funding for anti-trafficking programs in the 2024 budget will only make life easier for traffickers and harder for victims.

Help Prevent Human Trafficking
Learn ways to keep your children/grandchildren safe online.
Encourage your local school system to offer training to students, educators, staff, and parents to prevent child trafficking.
Some communities are more at risk for human trafficking, including people with histories of poverty, family instability, physical and sexual abuse, and trauma, as well as racial and ethnic minority students. Volunteer opportunities that support these people in particular are an excellent way to support your local community and join the fight.

Find and Support Your Local Anti-Human Trafficking Program
Programs that have been doing this work for a while are often underfunded. They have learned what works and what doesn’t and are best positioned to do this work. If you want to learn, they’re a great place to start – find out if they offer any educational programming or if you could help coordinate an event for them to teach. And if you want to help fight trafficking, ask what they need to better support survivors.

Want to Learn More?
National Survivor Network: Hollywood and Human Trafficking
Freedom Network USA: Child Labor Trafficking in the USA
Polaris Project: Human Trafficking 101 Training
Love 146: Do More Guide

If you or someone you know is experiencing human trafficking, get help by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.

In solidarity,

The Anti-Trafficking Community

No, letting police arrest California victims of human trafficking is not a good idea

At a press conference last month, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit took aim at atSB357, the Safer Streets for All Act. The law, which went into effect two months ago,SB357, repealed previous California law that criminalized loitering with the intent to engage in sex work. Nisleit claimed SB357 prevented law enforcement from acting to disrupt human trafficking.

It was an odd claim, considering the police chief made it during a press conference in which he announced his department had successfully disrupted a human trafficking operation, identifying 16 victims of trafficking in the process and arresting 48 people after SB357 took effect. But Nisleit isn’t alone. In recent weeks, a small group of politicians and right-wing media personalities have spread similar claims. Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, for example, spent an entire segment accusing SB357 of turning California into “a haven for human trafficking.”

These claims are not only false, but they also threaten much-needed reforms —such as those made by SB357 — to combat trafficking.

Although nowhere near a “haven” for human trafficking, California does have its share. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 13% of all trafficking cases in the U.S. in 2021 occurred in California. No amount is acceptable, and Attorney General Rob Bonta has made ending human trafficking in the state a priority.

In the past, police departments would use the criminalization of loitering with the intention of sex work to arrest sex workers. They claimed that these arrests allowed them to get information that helped to identify victims of human trafficking. But for years, many police departments — including those in Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego — have been moving away from relying on loitering charges to combat human trafficking. That hard data is difficult to square with the current hysterical claims that this repealed statute was an essential tool for law enforcement to address trafficking.

So why did police departments move away from arresting trafficking victims to prevent human trafficking? Because it doesn’t work.

According to a study by UCLA School of Law researchers, nearly 1 in 3 “loitering, with intent” charges from 2017 to 2019 in Los Angeles were rejected due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Moreover, the practice made the problem even worse. Countless survivors of trafficking have said that being arrested was not only traumatizing and revictimizing, but created insurmountable barriers to seeking employment, safe housing, public benefits and immigration relief. Among survivor groups, it’s often said that the fastest way to trap someone in a life of exploitation is to arrest them for it.

Arresting the victims of trafficking is also considered a harmful and ineffective intervention strategy by many federal officials. Guidelines issued by the U.S.intervention Department of Justice’s Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Force prohibit funding from being used to arrest those engaged in the sex trade or sex buyers as a means of identification, outreach and assistance, citing that these tactics compromise survivor safety and recovery.

The practice was also under fire for being discriminatory. “Loitering with intent to commit prostitution” is so vague and subjective — allowing an arrest based on how someone is dressed or what makeup they’re wearing — that officers could make arrests for completely arbitrary, discriminatory and baseless reasons. Data from across the state also showed significant racial and gender disparities in who was arrested for loitering. People arrested under the old law were overwhelmingly transgender and cisgender (i.e., not transgender) women of color — not sex buyers or human traffickers. Black adults, for example, made up a majority of the people arrested for this crime in Los Angeles from 2017 to 2019, even though they are only 8.9% of the city’s population.

Traffickers rely on these arrests to criminalize victims so that they are trapped and unable to access safety due to their criminal records. The arrests make individuals being trafficked even more vulnerable to continued exploitation.

SB357 reduces the criminalization and vulnerability of survivors and enables those who were convicted of the repealed loitering crime to clear their names.

A core tenet of human trafficking is that traffickers utilize force, fraud and coercion to control their victims. The state replicates these circumstances when it threatens survivors with prosecution under a loitering law to incentivize them to cooperate or provide information. By threatening arrest and incarceration, the government signals to survivors that they cannot trust the criminal legal system and that it is not there to protect them. These practices only make it more difficult for survivors to trust the services that are available to them, such as housing, health care and counseling.

SB357 is a small step in the process of repairing our systems that cause harm to survivors.

Survivors of trafficking need support and resources without the threat of arrest as well as strong labor protections that all workers deserve.

Human trafficking has existed as long as inequality has existed and truly addressing it means doing the work to reduce inequality — as opposed to grandstanding for attention.

Leigh LaChapelle is associate director of survivor advocacy at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking. Tony Hoang is executive director of Equality California.


Addressing homelessness in LA will help stop human trafficking

It seems like whenever human trafficking is in the news, we get a sensational view and not the full picture. A celebrity has been arrested for sex trafficking, and all the victims are young women. A company has been caught paying their immigrant workers nothing.

What should be making the news is that our own social systems are enabling human trafficking, and that it is happening right alongside homelessness.  These are hard truths but they tell us what needs to be done. With a new Mayor of Los Angeles and changes in the City Council, let’s turn our attention to what we are doing – and could be doing – to stop human trafficking from happening in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

What makes someone vulnerable to homelessness also makes them vulnerable to human trafficking. For many survivors, a lack of safe housing was not only a cause of their trafficking experience but also a result of it. Many people are forced or tricked into living with their trafficker or in a place they cannot easily leave. When they do leave, most have nowhere to go and become vulnerable again on the streets. They cannot return to their home neighborhood or their families because traffickers threaten to harm them or their loved ones. Many who were trafficked when they arrived in the US do not know where they are or who to turn to, and do not speak the local language. Almost nowhere is safe.

As an agency serving survivors of human trafficking in Los Angeles, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (Cast) is acutely aware of the housing and homelessness crisis in our city and county. Cast runs a 24-hour hotline for anyone seeking help finding safety and resources. Over half of the 2,210 calls last year were from potential victims and most (over 1,000 people) were experiencing homelessness. Housing is human trafficking survivors’ number one need.

Since the homelessness crisis in LA has created the conditions for human trafficking, then addressing it properly will help prevent human trafficking.

For 20 years, Cast has been the only agency providing dedicated housing for human trafficking survivors in Los Angeles: emergency shelter for up to 90 days, transitional shelter for up to two years, and wraparound services while survivors get back on their feet, like counselling and legal aid. Cast served 1,625 survivors and their family members last year.

But we are facing increasing and unprecedented demand for housing – like everybody else. Our two shelters are dedicated to female-identifying adults, so we cannot provide housing to males or survivors with children and are often full. So, my team is on the phone most days, asking other shelters if they have room for survivors of human trafficking.

Nine times out of ten, the answer is ‘no’.

It is unacceptable that when survivors of human trafficking bravely escape their situation, they often have nowhere safe to go. When Larissa called our hotline, she and her three children – the youngest, a baby – were sleeping in her car, hiding from the trafficker. Since Cast’s emergency shelter (being run from a hotel during COVID) was full, we called over 30 other shelters but none could take them in. So Cast provided services to Larissa and her children in her car for a week, until a room at our shelter became available. They stayed with us for a month and then we supported Larissa to find a safe, affordable, permanent home, keeping in touch with her for months after to make sure she settled in and knew her rights as a tenant.

Cast supports survivors to find permanent housing but rents in LA are at their highest ever, making leaving a shelter harder than it already is. If survivors cannot afford housing, they cannot easily access services or get a job, and are extremely vulnerable to being trafficked again.

This is an untenable situation. How can it be solved?

First, we need public agencies to include human trafficking in their victim housing and homelessness initiatives. We should not have to plead to be included and consulted, but we often do. Maybe it’s because well-meaning public servants think that human trafficking is happening somewhere else and not in our own neighborhoods. Maybe they don’t understand that human trafficking survivors need specialized services to meet their special needs. Who deserves housing?

Second, we need a dramatic increase in funding, especially for permanent housing, in line with the real world we are in. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments made large sums available to respond to the risk of homelessness, like rental assistance and emergency housing vouchers, but these have run out. The fallout of COVID, inflation and economic instability is only increasing the risk of human trafficking happening. We know that hundreds more survivors will call us this year, saying they are homeless and in danger. What do we tell survivors we can’t help simply because we don’t have the funds?

If we want to both prevent human trafficking and do right by survivors, let’s agree on what might make the biggest difference and let’s make it happen: a safe, affordable home for everyone. Addressing the housing and homelessness crises in Los Angeles – once and for all – will also help stop human trafficking.

Read our 2022 Impact Report to learn more: 2022 Impact Report

2023-2024 Stanton Fellowship

The Stanton Fellowship 2023-2024 cohort: Doug Bond, Tony Brown, Kay Buck, Dr. Andrea Garcia, Joel Garcia, and EJ Hill

The Durfee Foundation has announced that Kay Buck, CEO of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, is one of six recipients of the 2023-2024 Durfee Stanton Fellowship.  The Fellowship aims to provide changemakers and leaders in Los Angeles the opportunity to pursue an inquiry that seeks to improve the lives of people living in Los Angeles. 

As part of her fellowship, Kay will seek to explore more about what it will take to end human trafficking sustainably and in a way that honors survivors human rights.  Kay knows from working with survivors of human trafficking that arrest is not the answer and can be extremely harmful to survivors.  Kay aims to explore what the answer is, so survivors of human trafficking don’t have criminal records that stop them from getting housing, getting jobs, or moving on with their lives.  Kay is deeply committed to ending human trafficking, and fighting the systemic barriers to that goal.

Read more here

Survivor Stories: Meet Daniela

Daniela came to the US to escape police brutality in El Salvador. She never expected to face even greater hardships. 

When Daniela entered Cast, she had been making good progress in her recovery from her trafficking experience and was happy to have been reunited with her family, who were escaping police brutality in El Salvador.

However, Daniela’s landlord did not want her family living with her, even temporarily. She knew her landlord would not offer protection if her trafficker came looking for her. The situation became so stressful that Daniela ended up in the hospital twice.

Cast’s Housing Case Manager Alejandra worked closely with Daniela to find safe housing and arrange rental assistance to ease the transition. After seven months, a determined Daniela was finally able to find a safe home she could afford! Now she is in a home she loves with her family and with an understanding landlord. 

If not for our Rapid Rehousing Program, Daniela and her family might be living on the street. Instead, she feels safe and secure enough to get back to work and re-enroll in her educational program.

Safe, stable housing made all the difference for Daniela. With your support, we can ensure survivors have a home to begin healing this holiday season. Click here to donate to Cast today!

Open Letter to CBP on Trade Data Transparency

October 20, 2022

Below is a joint open letter to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) calling on CBP to demonstrate its continued commitment to combating forced labor in global supply chains by rejecting a proposal by driven by industry groups as part of the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) to shield ocean freight manifests from public disclosure.

The Honorable Chris Magnus
Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20229

Re: Open Letter on Trade Data Transparency

Dear Commissioner Magnus,

The undersigned organizations and advocates write to express our collective outrage at a recent proposal driven by industry groups as part of the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) to shield ocean freight manifests from disclosure. If adopted, the proposal would eviscerate the already limited access to customs data that is currently available to civil society. Public disclosure of vessel manifest data is essential to civil society, investigative journalists, and workers’ rights organizations, especially as we work to support effective enforcement of the U.S. Tariff Act and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).

The COAC proposal advocates additional problematic legislative amendments, which if accepted, would further derail forced labor investigations and enforcement under Section 307 of the U.S. Tariff Act, 1930, as well as under the UFLPA. An article published by the Associated Press (AP) on October 18, 2022 revealed these proposals. The amendments in question would profoundly hobble the agency’s ability to enforce forced labor laws, as well as the ability of civil society to share evidence of forced labor in U.S. supply chains. As the agency charged with the enforcement of these laws, CBP’s perspective is given a great deal of weight, both within the Administration and on Capitol Hill, and it is absolutely critical that CBP reject these proposed changes outright.

Public disclosure of import/export data is critical to tracing and monitoring forced labor risks in supply chains. Transparency of trade data is already far too limited. Currently, U.S. federal law (19 U.S.C § 1431) provides for public access only to ocean freight data. Data on air and land cargo is still not accessible to the public. Moreover, U.S. law already grants both importers and shippers the right to request confidentiality of their data on a case-by-case basis (19 C.F.R. § 103.31).

The trajectory should be for more transparency, not less. We advocate for disclosure of air, road, and rail manifests, in addition to maritime vessel manifests, while the COAC proposal seeks to shroud all import data behind a thick veil of secrecy. We urge CBP to reject calls for more “confidentiality” and instead disclose all types of customs data – air, rail, maritime and road – to the public. In addition, we urge CBP not to fall prey to proposals that will drive up the procedural complexity of the forced labor enforcement process, placing burdens both on CBP and civil society that are intended to operate as barriers to the enforcement of existing law.

In sum, U.S. companies can not publicly claim to oppose forced labor, while lobbying the U.S. Government to shield their supply chains from scrutiny. The effort to hide trade data is aimed at hindering enforcement of provisions banning imports of goods tainted by forced labor, and serves no legitimate public purpose. This is a shameful example of corporate overreach to protect profits by disabling efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.

We call on CBP to demonstrate its continued commitment to combating forced labor in global supply chains by rejecting this cynical call for confidentiality of vessel manifest data along with any other associated proposals. For years, U.S. advocates fought to remove loopholes that had crippled enforcement of Section 307 of the U.S. Tariff Act, culminating in the passage of the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act (TFTEA) of 2015. Now is not the time for the U.S. Government to move in precisely the opposite direction.

We therefore respectfully request that CBP publicly oppose, and summarily reject, the call
for additional import data confidentiality.


Advocating Opportunity
Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST)
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
Anti-Slavery International
Campaign for Uyghurs
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
Corporate Accountability Lab
Free the Slaves
Freedom Network USA
Freedom United
Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF)
Greenpeace USA
HEAL Trafficking
Human Rights Watch
Humanity United Action
International Campaign for the Rohingya
International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)
Jewish Movement for Uyghur Freedom
No Business with Genocide
Oxfam America
Safe Horizon, Inc
Solidarity Center
The Freedom Fund
The Human Trafficking Legal Center
Uyghur American Association
Uyghur Freedom Forum
Uyghur Human Rights Project
Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
Worker Rights Consortium
World Uyghur Congress
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
Ambassador (ret.) Luis C.deBaca
Professor from Practice, University of Michigan Law School
Sabra Boyd
Sabra Boyd LLC

Support Survivors on Labor Day

This Labor Day, Cast’s Managing Attorney shares an open letter about a special labor trafficking survivor, Gabriel. 

Dear Friend,

Since I started as an attorney at Cast in 2017, Labor Day has been a difficult holiday. I love a cookout as much as anyone, but I feel conflicted about celebrating while thousands are being trafficked for labor.

What could Labor Day possibly mean to a person being forced to work against their will?

I think about people like Gabriel, a 50-year-old father who came to the US from Mexico to make money to support his family. Gabriel came on a professional work visa as a highly experienced mechanical engineer, and after multiple interviews, he believed he had a good engineering job waiting for him in the US. However, when Gabriel arrived, he quickly realized that the job recruiter had lied to him.

Gabriel’s story is more common than you might think; more than 40% of labor trafficking survivors are men and nearly half come to the US on a temporary work visa.

Working 12-15 hour shifts on a poultry farm in Atlanta, Gabriel was forced to deal with hazardous materials and faulty machinery and was continuously guarded and monitored – even during his sleep, Gabriel was often threatened with a gun. He suffered daily physical abuse and threats, all while his wages were stolen by his traffickers. 

Gabriel was eventually able to escape to California, but his ordeal was far from over. Cast set to work on getting him a visa designated for victims of trafficking (T-visa) but due to the rules, leaving the US to see his family would disqualify him. 

As the delays with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services were worsened by the pandemic, Gabriel had to wait nearly two years for news on his visa application.  For those two years, he was unable to see his family, had to survive without a work visa, and could only get manual labor jobs. He stayed in shelters and on friends’ couches.

Cast fought hard for him – as we have done with thousands of other survivors of human trafficking – and we were ultimately able to help secure Gabriel’s T visa and to reunite him with his family.  Gabriel’s ordeal should never have happened but Cast was there to help him move on with his life and to enjoy his rights. 

Cast works to make the promise of Labor Day real, so that every person can be free, paid fairly, and have safe working conditions. This Labor Day, join our efforts to end human trafficking and support survivors like Gabriel by making a donation to Cast. 

In solidarity,

DF, Cast Managing Attorney 

Together, we can be the community survivors rely on. Join us by making a donation to Cast. Click here to donate.

Assemblymember Tim Grayson and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking Introduce Comprehensive Bill to Combat California’s Human Trafficking Crisis

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today, Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord) introduced AB 2553, sponsored by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, which would establish the California Multidisciplinary Alliance to Stop Trafficking Act (California MAST). This bill aims to examine and evaluate existing programs and outreach for survivors and victims of human trafficking and provide recommendations to strengthen California’s response to supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable.

“California is home to some of the largest hubs for sex and labor trafficking in the United States, and it is beyond time our state takes the necessary steps in combatting this criminal enterprise,” says Assemblymember Grayson. “I thank the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking for their sponsorship of this bill as we work to prevent human trafficking now and into the future.”

Human trafficking is the exploitation of human beings through force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex or forced labor and is estimated to be a $150 billion a year global industry. Over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, our communities became more vulnerable to trafficking due to the suspension of regularly offered services. There was a significant rise in calls for urgent trafficking cases through the pandemic, leading to overburdened service providers unable to offer essential services due to the increased need. As a result, some survivors were re-trafficked, and many others were left without safe options for housing and employment.

“In my search for a better life, I found myself exploited by various individuals similar to other child trafficking survivors,” says Jimmy Lopez, Survivor Advocate for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. “Human trafficking is an invisible crisis plaguing our state and forcing thousands of children to grow up too fast; we must stop trafficking in its tracks, and we must hold offenders accountable.”

The California MAST task force will be comprised of select state agencies, survivors, and representatives from human rights and immigrant rights organizations whose main priorities are to evaluate the state’s progress in preventing human trafficking and providing support to victims and survivors. In doing so, the California MAST will be able to provide critical recommendations to strengthen state and local efforts to address the root causes that make individuals, families, and communities at risk of trafficking.

“California MAST is a huge steppingstone in addressing human trafficking in our state and supporting those who have been underserved for far too long,” says Leigh LaChapelle, Associate Director of Survivor Advocacy for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. “This important change in California law will provide the framework we need to create a future where we serve every survivor and abolish human trafficking all together.”

AB 2553 joint and co-authors include: Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas), Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), and Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton).

About the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking

The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (Cast) is a Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization working to put an end to human trafficking through comprehensive, life-transforming services to survivors and a platform to advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation. To find out more, visit or follow Cast on Twitter and Facebook.

Human Trafficking PSA: Nicole Scherzinger & California Attorney General Rob Bonta

Human trafficking awareness should happen every day of the year so we are ending Human Trafficking Prevention Month with this important PSA in partnership with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Performer and Cast Ambassador Nicole Scherzinger. Survivors need and deserve our help, not just in January, but all year round. Please help us raise the last $15,000 to close Human Trafficking Prevention Month with enough funding to serve survivors in our confidential shelters and rights-based programs. Please give what you can today. 

You are an important part of our outreach. Because of your support for Cast’s mission, we were able to provide essential and life-changing services to nearly 2,000 survivors and their families in 2021, and respond to a never-seen-before 556% increase in our in-person Emergency Response Program.    

Thank you for championing the safety and rights of survivors!  

Together, we can be the community survivors rely on. Join us by making a donation to Cast. Click here to donate.