Mosaic Family Services was founded as East Dallas Counseling Center in 1993 by Dr. Walter Nguyen, a former refugee from Vietnam, to assist struggling refugees and immigrants in the Dallas area and empower them to lead self-sufficient lives. At that time, EDCC provided drug education and drug counseling to youth and families in East and Southeast Dallas. Through our initial work in the fields of substance abuse, Mosaic broadened our services to include health, social and victim services to refugees and immigrants.
Mosaic Family Services’ first program for refugees focused on helping them access medical and mental health care. It was through these efforts to improve health that Mosaic recognized how limited services in North Texas are for foreign-born victims of violence, particularly for victims of family violence. In 1997, Mosaic established the Multicultural Family Violence Program. In 2001, Mosaic expanded its services to victims of human trafficking and established the first anti-trafficking program in the state. That same year, Mosaic House opened its doors as the region’s first shelter designed to serve refugee and immigrant women and their children who are victims of family violence.
Mosaic’s Start to Human Trafficking Work
Mosaic was well known amongst law enforcement agencies and the community for our work with multicultural domestic violence survivors and refugees. Because of this, in 2001, we were connected with labor trafficking survivors from Vietnam who were brought to Dallas. Law enforcement specifically reached out to Mosaic to help with this case because of our multilingual staff.
This case started in the late 1990s, when a garment factory owner, Kil Soo Lee, in American Samoa was recruiting workers from Vietnam and China to work in the factory. Workers were promised good wages that would allow them to support their families back home. Once they arrived on the remote island, everything changed.
Workers were frequently beaten and assaulted and were living in a compound on the factory property. Lee and his staff controlled everything in their lives, like what they could eat, how much they could eat, if they could communicate with their families, etc. He also took their passports and all their identification paperwork once workers arrived at the island, so escape seemed impossible.
After years of this, a worker was allowed to leave the compound to receive medical attention. The worker managed to slip a note about what was going on at the garment factory, and a civilian contacted authorities.
In 2001, the Department of Labor shut down the garment factory and arrested Lee and his employees with many charges, including involuntary servitude and forced labor.
Of the approximately 270 trafficked, about 25 of them were brought to Dallas and were connected with Mosaic. We had staff members (including our founder, Dr. Nguyen!), who were fluent in Vietnamese and able to provide culturally competent, high-quality services to these frightened and traumatized factory workers.
Mosaic staff realized that working with human trafficking survivors made perfect sense for our agency; many survivors of human trafficking are foreign-born, making it more difficult for them to seek help because of challenges like language and cultural barriers. This case also brought to our attention how much work is needed to be done in the human trafficking field. Because human trafficking is such a hidden crime, we knew we had to step in and advocate for survivors.
This case is one of the largest trafficking cases ever pursued by the Department of Justice and has set many precedents for how trafficking cases should be prosecuted. For more information about this revolutionary case, you can check out these articles from the New York Times, The Guardian, Freedom Network USA and Wikipedia.
Additional Wrap-Around Services
In 2003, we changed our name from East Dallas Counseling Center to Mosaic Family Services, to reflect that we serve all survivors in DFW, not just East Dallas. In 2005, Mosaic began providing free legal services and mental health counseling to our clients, and we’re the only agency in North Texas that provides both family and immigration legal services free of charge.
Mosaic has earned a reputation as a safe haven for survivors that provides culturally competent services to survivors who would not be served at traditional agencies.