Midwestern Service Provider Narratives of Migrant Experiences: Legibility, Vulnerability, and Exploitation in Human Trafficking
Keywords:Service providers, human trafficking, vulnerability, migrants, labor exploitation
This exploratory study examined the vulnerability and exploitation of migrants from the perspective of service providers who work in social service organizations. Researchers conducted 16 interviews and 1 focus group with service providers whose clientele had direct experience with migration. These service providers indicated that there is incongruence, even tension, between a welcoming local response to migrant populations and the state-level political rhetoric and policy initiatives, which are predominantly anti-immigration. This study demonstrates that there are contradictions and tensions related especially to exploitation in Midwest migrant populations. Service providers acknowledged complexity in the problems related to migrant vulnerability and exploitation and were interested in change. Findings of this study highlight particular vulnerabilities of migrant populations, a lack of legibility of human trafficking in social service organizations, and a difference between political rhetoric and local responses to migrant populations. Policies and practices in social service delivery need to reflect the subtleties of risk for exploitation and offer broad preventive support for migrant populations through education and advocacy.
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