Human Trafficking: Identifying and Supporting Survivors


Meeting Recap

The National Conference of State Legislatures hosted a pre-conference and roundtable of state lawmakers, experts and practitioners prior to the start of NCSL’s 2018 Legislative Summit in Los Angeles. The pre-conference provided an opportunity for a small group of policy makers to learn about and discuss identifying and providing services to human trafficking survivors. The roundtable was held and supported by the federal Office for Victims of Crime.

Participants heard from Anh Truong and Rena Shahandeh from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, an office on the forefront of enforcing two of California’s human trafficking laws. Many trafficking survivors are arrested and prosecuted for acts directly related to having been trafficked. Survivors can be denied employment, housing and economic assistance due to their criminal histories. Truong and Shahandeh explained how the city attorney’s office is building a state-wide infrastructure and streamlined process for vacating and expunging those arrest records and convictions.

Panida Rzonca, directing attorney of the Thai Community Development Center in Los Angeles, discussed the legal needs of trafficking survivors. Since 1995, she said, the Thai CDC has played a pivotal role in human rights cases across the country, including the 1995 El Monte Case. This case was the first foreign national modern-day slavery case in U.S. history and the Thai CDC worked to liberate, resettle and empower 72 Thai garment workers from the infamous El Monte slave shop.

Becca Channell and Ima Matul, from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking LA (CAST LA), presented information about the continuum of services the organization offers to survivors including:

  • Comprehensive strengths and needs assessment
  • Independent life skills training/mentoring
  • Supportive counseling
  • Court accompaniment
  • Facilitation between various providers/systems
  • Advocacy including but not limited to:
    • Education, access to services, county benefits, interacting with systems
  • Linkage to resources including but not limited to:
    • Housing, employment, education, county benefits, health and wellness, mental health, tattoo removal, etc.
  • Ongoing safety planning and assessment

Ima Matul, who now serves at the survivor program coordinator for CAST LA, also spoke to the group about her personal experiences a s a survivor of labor trafficking.

* This meeting and webpage were supported by grant number 2015-VF-GX-K021, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Participant Roster

Representative Bryan Barbin (D-Pa.)
Senator Vivian Figures (D-Ala.)
Representative Marsha Haefner (R-Mo.)
Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-Md.)
Senator Kris Langer (R-S.D.)
Senator Diane Larson (R-N.D.)
Senator Susan Lee (D-Md.)
Senator Patty Pansing Brooks (D-Neb.)
Representative Angela Romero (D-Utah)
Representative Barry M. Usher (R-Mont.)
Senator Cam Ward (R-Ala.)
Senator Todd Weiler (R-Utah)
Senator Whitney Westerfield (R-Ky.)
Representative Gene Wu (D-Texas)
Representative Addia Wuchner (R-Ky.)


Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Ill.), president of NCSL
Susan Frederick, senior federal affairs counsel, NCSL State-Federal Relations Division
Anh Truong, director of anti-sex and labor trafficking, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office
Rena Shahandeh, deputy city attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office
Becca Channell, task force coordinator, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human TraffickingCAST LA
Ima Matul, survivor program coordinator, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human TraffickingCAST LA
Panida Rzonca, directing attorney, Thai Community Development Center