Photo of Angela Martinez-Alvarado

Angela Martinez-Alvarado

  • Hosted by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
  • Sponsored by U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime
  • Service location San Antonio, Texas
  • Law school St. Mary’s University School of Law
  • Issue area Human Trafficking and Victim’s Rights Enforcement
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Crime Victims Justice Corps

The Project

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It is the exploitation of men, women, and children for forced/coerced labor or sex by a third-party for profit or gain. A common fallacy is that human trafficking is a crime that is found in city streets and dark motel rooms and therefore victims are not easily identifiable.  Human trafficking victims work in a myriad of industries, not limited to: domestic servitude, escort services, construction, field/farm labor, landscaping and the restaurant industry. Victims are usually vulnerable and searching for financial opportunities. Traffickers promise wages, opportunities for legal status, and a better way of life then what they are currently experiencing and induce them into working for them for little to no pay. Human traffickers can be family, significant others, and employers.

Unfortunately, it is one of the leading and fastest growing economic industries, one which Texas is not immune to. The chains that bind them are invisible, therefore they are either not detected by law enforcement and/or medical personnel and sometimes can be confused for domestic violence. Most victims do not self-identify as victims of human trafficking and the fear that has been instilled in them against law enforcement and the shame that accompanies the work they were forced to engage in impacts them from reaching out for assistance and services. The threats they face are far too great sometimes for them to attempt an escape. Therefore, statistics will always be skewed as victims are misidentified, deported or incarcerated without proper screening or simply do not ever speak up.

Angela’s goal is to provide culturally competent, trauma-informed legal services to U.S. citizen and foreign national survivors of trafficking throughout 68 county service areas in Texas. Additionally, Angela will provide direct representation for survivors, focused on immigration relief, including, but not limited to, T- and U- visas. She will assist survivors with direct representation for wage and hour claims or other civil remedies to recover money damages related to victims’ trafficking, crime victims’ rights services, including assistance with reporting to law enforcement. Providing counsel and advice and referrals for survivors who do not desire or whose legal issues do not require direct representation is another service she will offer to victims. Furthermore, she will be assisting victims in cooperating with law enforcement investigations and accompaniment at criminal hearings and trials.

Angela’s passion for helping others find their voice coupled with her desire for human dignity motivate her and challenge her to champion for these victims. Her past work in the non-profit and government sector working with the low to moderate income and most vulnerable of populations have provided the foundation needed in building rapport with her clients and identifying their immediate needs to provide effective and long-lasting benefits.

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