Study: Most Victims of Human Trafficking Enter the United States Legally

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

WASHINGTON DC, the United States of America – According to a new study, funded by the United States Department of Justice, published by Northeastern University and the Urban institute most victims of human trafficking arriving in the United States enter the country legally. The study found that most victims of human trafficking in the United States arrived in the country with a legal work visa and later became indentured servants after their immigration papers were taken away by traffickers and recruiters. The study focused on 122 foreign men and women who sought to receive services from a coalition of organizations that assist the victims of trafficking. The researchers also interviewed service providers and law enforcement officials as well as the victims of trafficking themselves.

According to a new study that examines labor trafficking in the United States, human trafficking has been seen in agriculture, construction, hotels, restaurant and domestic services industries. (Photo courtesy of CNN Money)

According to the Report the average age of victims in the study was 33 at the time they began receiving services. Most had children. Almost a third of the victims had attained higher education, and 71% held some type of temporary work visa when they entered the United States. The study found traffickers often used the visa status as a weapon to exploit workers by withholding their documentation in an attempt to keep the victims from leaving and threatening to have them deported if they refuse to continue serving the traffickers.

The report found that most of the victims involved in the study were recruited in their home country, and were often deceived about the nature and compensation of the work they would be doing in the United States. Typically, the victims of human trafficking came from countries in Central America or Southeast Asia.

While human trafficking is not limited to any area of the globe, the majority of the workers in the Northeastern University Study were trafficked from their homelands in Asia and Latin America. (Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe)

According to the report, foreign workers are often lured by traffickers offering false promises of a good life with good jobs in the United States. However the victims of traffickers soon find themselves living as slaves in plain sight. About half of these workers pay “recruitment” fees to their traffickers, these fees are often thousands of dollars that can leave them stuck in debt to traffickers for years.

The victims of human trafficking are living and working under slave-like conditions across America in farming communities, on construction sites, in restaurants and even inside homes in quiet suburban neighborhood. Since human trafficking was criminalized in 2000 the federal Justice Department has convicted labor traffickers in New York, Georgia and Washington State among other prosecutions.

According to The International Labour Organization, a United Nation’s agency, an estimated 21 million people worldwide are the victims of forced labor. However, there is no official estimate of how prevalent the problem is in the United States.

For more information please see:

The Boston Globe – Most Victims of Human Trafficking Enter The US Legally, Study Says – 21 October 2014

CNN Money – Slave Labor in America Today – 21 October 2014

Hartford Business – Slave Labor in America Today – 21 October 2014

Reuters – Study Shows U.S. Forced-Labor Victims Unclear Where to Seek Help – 21 October 2014

Author: Kathryn Maureen Ryan

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