Combatting Human Trafficking

Ending human trafficking can only happen when we gain a critical mass of informed citizens who can identify susceptible persons, and respond with understanding of the appropriate legal channels.

The Hispanic Affairs Project first began to work against human trafficking in 2006. Dr. Tom Acker, Colorado Mesa University  professor, activist and President of HAP’s Board of Directors, first learned about labor trafficking in the region when he was invited to participate in a sheepherder outreach survey. Colorado legal services, a non-profit legal aid organization, was spearheading the survey of worker conditions. Migrant sheepherders were experiencing deplorable living conditions, low wages ($2/hour), diminished personal freedoms and voicelessness. Overworked and Underpaid: H-2A Herders in Colorado was published, the first step in minimizing labor abuse in the Western Slope.

HAP then stood as a plaintiff in various federal lawsuits representing sheepherders. This resulted in identifying H2A (temporary) visas as inappropriate for sheepherders as their work is year-round, and helped close legal loopholes that were being used to exploit workers. Read the judicial review.

Acker was appointed by then Gov. Hickenlooper to the Colorado Human Trafficking Council. The purpose of the Colorado Human Trafficking Council is to bring together leadership from community-based and statewide anti-trafficking efforts, to build and enhance collaboration among communities and counties within the state, to establish and improve comprehensive services for victims and survivors of human trafficking, and to help prevent human trafficking in Colorado.

 Dr. Thomas Acker (second from left) with Mesa County Commissioners