Walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, a 34-hear-old Mexican native named Flor tells me she is simply grateful to have her freedom.
Four years ago, Flor says, she was lured from her home in Mexico by people who promised her free passage to the United States, legal entry, and a good job as a tailor near Los Angeles.
When she arrived, however, she was immediately enslaved in a sweat shop and forced to sew 18 hours a day, sleep in a storage room, and eat little, she tells us. She says her boss told her she could go nowhere until she paid $2,600 for her transit into the country.
"She threatened me," Flor says, sighing, thinking of her mother and children still in Mexico. "She said if I tried to escape...somebody who I loved would pay the consequences."
This modern slave trade -- "human trafficking," as it is called -- is considered the third largest criminal industry in the world; behind only drugs and gun running.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates 18,000 people a year are brought into America this way -- half for the sex trade, half to work in homes, on farms, on construction sites, and in restaurants and factories. Federal officials say they are in communities everywhere.
Flor was lucky. After one-and-a-half months, she escaped captivity, she says, and after much adjustment became convinced that U.S. authorities would sympathize with her plight and help her.
She is now living here under a special visa developed for the victims of trafficking. She's trying to bring her children in too. But she says she is haunted by something her trafficker told her.
"She said, 'Dogs have more rights in this country than we had,'" Flor tells me.
"What did you think?" I ask.
"In some ways," Flor murmurs, "She was saying the truth."
What do you think?