Congress: Put Trafficking Victims First

Target: Mitch McConnell, United States Senate Majority Leader

Goal: Demand immediate congressional action to protect vulnerable immigrants from exploitation.

17,000 represents the estimated number of people trafficked into the United States every year. 20 million stands as the number of trafficked individuals worldwide. And one billion is the profit in dollars that abusers and exploiters reap from these often hidden crimes. For many undocumented immigrants in the US, their journey to a believed freedom begins as a waking nightmare. For too many, the nightmare has never ended.

Survivors of trafficking often do not realize their circumstances until it is too late. Cruel individuals scout for potential victims in regions where economic disadvantage, oppression, and lacking education create desperate would-be refugees. These potential victims, who are disproportionately women and minors, are lured by coyotes and smugglers with promises of employment or misleading pledges of legal immigration status. Once smuggled across the border, these newly undocumented immigrants are forced into servitude as domestic, agricultural, factory, or sex workers. To maintain control, ’employers’ will often isolate their victims, threaten them with deportation, threaten family, or physically and sexually abuse them.

Trafficking victims are afforded protections under federal laws, but the undocumented status of many often complicates receiving these protections. For one, fear of deportation remains an incredibly strong motivator for undocumented victims to remain silent. The current administration’s emphasis on deporting those with a criminal record also creates an environment of confusion, because trafficking victims when discovered are sometimes charged with crimes such as working without a visa or prostitution. Law enforcement officials are currently not adequately trained to identify or deal with these complex situations. In fact, in one recent case, immigration officials arrived at a trafficking victims’ shelter in order to detain a potential deportee, but they were turned away. For too many, the outcome is far bleaker, with most victims unable to obtain one of the rapidly dwindling temporary stay visas. Therefore, they face eventual deportation back to the very circumstances they fled.

Sign this petition to support congressional action on the Put Trafficking Victims First Act, which would extend greater protections to undocumented immigrants and enact the law enforcement training so desperately needed.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator McConnell,

In May 2017, the US House of Representatives took a significant step in showing how bipartisan unity can accomplish needed goals. The widespread support of the Put Trafficking Victims First Act sent a strong message that all victims, with the aid of dedicated individuals, can transition into strong survivors.

Yet nine months later, this essential legislation still rests in limbo. We fear that partisan politics has once again derailed an initiative that could improve the lives of thousands of individuals. Currently, enhanced hostility against undocumented immigrants has created an environment in which human trafficking is thriving. Victims across the country live in fear of a government they believe will do even more harm to their lives than their abusers. In essence, they must make an unthinkable choice. Current laws do not address the discrepancy between deporting those convicted of a crime and the harsh reality that many of these ‘criminals’ are daily victims of the most heinous crimes themselves. A sex trafficking victim arrested for prostitution has little to celebrate from her ‘rescue’ because she knows she will likely face deportation.

The Put Trafficking Victims First Act addresses many of these gaps, makes provisions for increased awareness and training on the part of law enforcement, and—most importantly—places the emphasis on empowering those who have persevered throughout American history: the oppressed and the disadvantaged.

Put survivors first by putting this essential action back on the floor today.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ira Gelb

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2 Comments

  1. GEN AGUSTSSON says:

    NO MORE HUMAN TRAFFICKING!

  2. Human Trafficking ends now!

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