Still Waters Anti-Trafficking Program

Serving foreign national survivors of human trafficking

Still Waters works to protect the rights and address the needs of foreign national survivors of human trafficking who reside in New Jersey. As a partner of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Still Waters operates TVAP, a Trafficking Victims Assistance Program serving adults, and Aspire Child Trafficking Victim Assistance Program serving minors. These survivor assistance programs take place through USCRI’s cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, Office on Trafficking in Persons.

Human trafficking occurs throughout the world, including the United States. Victims can be adults or children, male or female, citizens, or arrivals from other countries. US citizens automatically qualify for government assistance helping victims of trafficking, but foreign nationals are not initially eligible. Still Waters helps them until they secure the immigration status needed to gain eligibility for that assistance.

While there is no single “typical” scenario in which traffickers target foreign nationals, people who enter the United States for a particular opportunity, such as to work a seasonal job, or participate in a cultural exchange, or pursue a program of studies, or through any of many other visa categories involving short-term residence in the US, may find upon arrival that the opportunity presented to them was false. They may have borrowed steeply from friends, family, or loan sharks in their home country to pay fees they were charged for the promised opportunity. Now they are faced with having to pay back their lenders, but the rules associated with their entry visa may prohibit them from working, or only provide a short period in which they are authorized to work. They can go back to their country heavily indebted, with no job prospects and no possibility to repay those they borrowed from, or they can overstay their visa, in hopes of working in the US long enough to clear their debts.

Unscrupulous employers who see their dilemma may hire them “off the books” as if doing them a favor, and provide housing in an offer to “hide” them from officials who could deport them. Such exploitative employers soon trap their victims into labor trafficking, paying them little or nothing for the work they require them to do, or manipulate them into sex trafficking, requiring them to serve customers.

Traffickers coerce their victims by tactics such as surveillance, confiscation of passports, and preventing their interacting with people who might help them escape. Often victims cannot speak English. Traffickers falsely tell them that their lack of US citizenship means they have no right to decent pay or workplace safety. They are often made to believe they owe the trafficker money for their food and shelter, and must keep working to pay it off.

Trafficked people may be working in gas stations, convenience stores, nail salons, massage parlors, restaurants, factories, warehouses, or farm fields. They may work on crews doing construction, roofing, cleaning, or begging, or as housekeepers or nannies in private homes, or in many other jobs. If you know of someone possibly being trafficked, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888, open 24 hours a day. Your report will be treated confidentially and can be made anonymously.

Still Waters strives to assist survivors to meet basic needs, improve health, and move forward with ESL, literacy, obtaining of identification documents, filing for legal status, etc. Foreign national victims of trafficking may be referred by law enforcement agencies, community organizations, or individuals. To refer someone in need of services, or for more information, contact