The following cases may be relevant to T nonimmigrant status eligibility issues and adjudications.
Threats of harm or serious harm:
United States v. Dann (PDF), 652 F.3d 1160, 1170 (9th Cir. 2011) (Threats should be considered from the vantage point of a reasonable person in the place of the victim and must be sufficiently serious to compel that person to remain.).
United States v. Farrell, 563 F.3d 364, 372 n.3 (8th Cir. 2009) (“Jury Instruction 16 defined ‘involuntary servitude’ as follows: ‘[A] condition of compulsory service in which the alleged victim is compelled to perform labor or services against the alleged victim's will for the benefit of another person due to the use or threat of physical restraint or physical injury, or by the use or threat of arrest, prosecution, or imprisonment. . . The use or threat of a civil lawsuit does not make the labor involuntary.’”).
United States v. Djoumessi (PDF), 538 F.3d 547 (6th Cir. 2008) (“The term ‘involuntary servitude’ necessarily means a condition of servitude in which the victim is forced to work for the defendant by the use or threat of physical restraint or physical injury, or by the use or threat of coercion through law or the legal process. This definition encompasses those cases in which the defendant holds the victim in servitude by placing the victim in fear of such physical restraint or injury or legal coercion.”) (quoting United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931, 952 (1988)).
United States v. Bradley (PDF), 390 F.3d 145, 153 (1st Cir. 2004), cert. granted, judgment vacated, 545 U.S. 1101 (2005) (The use of “physical restraint; such as, the use of chains, barbed wire, or locked doors,” is not required in order to establish the offense of forced labor.).
United States v. Warren (PDF), 772 F.2d 827, 834 (11th Cir. 1985) (“That the worker had the opportunity to escape is of no moment, if the defendant has placed him in such fear of physical harm that he is afraid to leave.”).
United States v. Udeozor (PDF), 515 F.3d 260, 265 (4th Cir. 2008) (in upholding conviction for involuntary servitude, finding that sexual abuse of the victim was one of the forms of force used to keep the minor victim in the condition of involuntary servitude).
Abuse or threatened abuse of legal process:
Clyatt v. United States (PDF), 197 U.S. 207 (1905) (victim was coerced by threat of legal sanction to work off a debt to a master).
United States v. Reynolds (PDF), 235 U.S. 133 (1914) (when breach of the labor contract is criminalized, requiring a misdemeanor offender to work for a surety who would, in turn, pay the convict’s fine to the state, the condition of peonage is created).
Pollock v. Williams (PDF), 322 U.S. 4 (1944) (“[The State] must respect the constitutional and statutory command that it may not make failure to labor in discharge of a debt any part of a crime. It may not directly or indirectly command involuntary servitude, even if it was voluntarily contracted for.”).
Bailey v. Alabama (PDF), 219 U.S. 219 (1911) (subjecting debtors to prosecution and criminal punishment for failing to perform labor after receiving an advance payment).
United States v. Kozminski (PDF), 487 U.S. 931, 945 (1988) (recognizing that threatening an incompetent with institutionalization or an immigrant with deportation could constitute the threat of legal coercion).
United States v. Kaufman (PDF), 546 F.3d 1242, 1265 (10th Cir. 2008) (recognizing that a variety of methods of coercion including threats of institutionalization were used to compel victim who suffered serious mental illness to perform farm work in the nude).
United States v. Farrell, 563 F.3d 364, 372-73 (8th Cir. 2009) (in upholding conviction for peonage, finding that employers used threats of arrest and imprisonment based on the victim’s lack of immigration status).
United States v. Djoumessi (PDF), 538 F.3d 547, 553 (6th Cir. 2008) (upholding involuntary servitude conviction when coercion involved threats of deportation to Cameroon which victim considered the greatest threat against her because of the conditions there and her desire to help her family through opportunities in the United States).
United States v. Veerapol, 312 F.3d 1128, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2002) (upholding involuntary servitude conviction and noting that the employer maintained control over Thai restaurant workers through a variety of methods of coercion, including threats of imprisonment based on the workers’ lack of immigration status).
United States v. Calimlim, 538 F.3d 706, 713 (7th Cir. 2008) (finding that the employer’s actions of keeping victim’s passport, never admitting they were violating law, or offering to try and regularize the worker’s presence in the United States and implicit threats that she may be subject to deportation proceedings constituted “abuse of law”).
United States v. Calimlim, 538 F.3d 706, 713 (7th Cir. 2008) (rejecting employer’s arguments that threatening deportation was not an “abuse of law” because worker was here without immigration status and thus subject to deportation and finding employers’ threats were directed to an end different from those envisioned by the law and were thus an abuse of legal process).
Nunag-Tanedo v. E. Baton Rouge Par. Sch. Bd., 790 F. Supp. 2d 1134, 1144 (C.D. Cal. 2011) (citing principle that abuse of legal process occurs when objective for threats is to intimidate and coerce forced labor).
Ruiz v. Fernandez, 949 F. Supp. 2d 1055, 1077 (E.D. Wash. 2013) (rejecting defendants’ arguments that threats to report H2A Chilean sheepherders were justified because, if workers left the ranch without being assigned to another member ranch, they would be in violation of their temporary work visas. Workers testified that threats were made almost daily and were apparently made in relation to victims' general willingness to do specific work on the ranch rather any sort of expressed intent to leave the ranch without obtaining a transfer.).
Elat v. Ngoubene (PDF), 993 F. Supp. 2d 497, 526 (D. Md. 2014) (citing Camayo v. John Peroulis & Sons Sheep, Inc., Nos. (D. Colo. Sept. 24, 2012)) (Threats of deportation can constitute an abuse of the legal process if they are an abuse of the process).
United States v. Farrell, 563 F.3d 364, 372-73 (8th Cir. 2009) (The workers’ relationship with their employers was more akin to one of debt bondage rather than simple debt. Given the continually mounting expenses, at no point was the value of the workers' labor sufficient to liquidate the debt and there was, in effect, no limit to the length of the services required to satisfy the obligation or even a limit on the amount owed.).
Compensation for labor:
United States v. Bradley (PDF), 390 F.3d 145, 153 (1st Cir. 2004), cert. granted, judgment vacated, 545 U.S. 1101 (2005). (“If a person is compelled to labor against his will by any one of the means prohibited by the forced labor statute, such service is forced, even if he is paid or compensated for the work.”).
Non-traditional types of work:
United States v. Kaufman (PDF), 546 F.3d 1242, 1263 (10th Cir. 2008) (noting that involuntary servitude and forced labor statutes do not apply only to coerced “work in an economic sense” and would include coerced acts such as requiring patients to engage in compelled sexual activity, including masturbation, genital shaving, and frequent nudity, much of which was videotaped).
United States v. Marcus (PDF), 487 F.Supp.2d 289 (E.D.N.Y. 2007), vacated on other grounds, 538 F.3d 97 (2d Cir. 2008) (Enslavement can arise even if the initial participation in the labor was part of a consensual alternative sexual relationship.).
Duration of victimization:
United States v. Pipkins, 378 F.3d 1281, 1297 (11th Cir. 2004), cert. granted, judgment vacated, 544 U.S. 902 (2005), and opinion reinstated, 412 F.3d 1251 (11th Cir. 2005). (“Section 1584 requires that involuntary servitude be for ‘any term,’ which suggests that the temporal duration can be slight.”).
United States v. Djoumessi (PDF), 538 F.3d 573, 552-53 (6th Cir. 2008) (“Even assuming there were moments during [victim’s] stay when she had an opportunity to escape […] Djoumessi's argument still falls short because a rational trier of fact could conclude that [victim’s] labor was involuntary for at least some portion of her stay. And that involuntary portion would suffice to sustain the conviction.”).
United States v. Dann (PDF), 652 F.3d 1160, 1167 (9th Cir. 2001) (The charge of forced labor need not apply to the entire duration of the victim’s services or labor. It could be applied to only a portion of the time.).