The US government along with different institutions and NGOs are striving to combat human trafficking, with the national human trafficking hotline receiving around 175 calls every day.
More than 35,000 cases of human trafficking have been reported in last 10 years according to Polaris, a non-governmental organization that works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and operates national human trafficking helplines to assist victims.
According to Polaris, the USA received 26,727 hotline calls related to human trafficking, 7,572 human trafficking cases, 16,812 trafficking victims and 4,522 direct calls from victims and survivors in 2016.
“Traffickers of foreign victims are foreigners while traffickers of local victims are nationals,” said Steve Wagner, acting Assistant Secretary at the Administration for Children and Families under the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“Community people and health care providers are the major sources of identifying victims of trafficking,” he said.
Wagner further said victims usually decide to keep mum as they are frightened of their traffickers. The health care providers are given instructions and training to identify cases of trafficking when a victim is admitted to a hospital.
“If a health care provider finds that a patient is injured and not comfortable talking in front of the person who brought him or her to the hospital, the doctor requests the concerned one to talk to the victim alone. If any suspicious activities indicate that the patient is a victim, the health care providers report it immediately,” said Wagner.
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Challenges and response
Identifying foreign victims of trafficking and illegal immigrants has proven difficult.
“In the case of foreign victims, they hide in the ethnic communities and are exploited there and police finds difficulty in penetrating the territory as exploiters are from the same community,” said Wagner.
It is a serious problem as they refuse to be recognized as victims of trafficking even after having the chance, in order to be able to stay in the US and not get deported.
To allow victims of human trafficking and their immediate family members to remain and work temporarily in the US, typically if they agree to assist law enforcement in testifying against the perpetrators, the government has introduced a T visa.
Bangladesh ranked 8th
among the grantees of this type of stay permit, with 50 Bangladeshi nationals being offered the T visa so far.
Since the T visa program’s inception, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted 13,856 visas out of 18,917 applications.
In the fiscal year 2017, Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP) grantees had a sub-recipient network of 177 service providers across 47 states and 99 cities. The national network of grantees and sub-recipients provided services to 1,100 victims of human trafficking and 431 qualified family members.
Wagner said that it took a decade to formulate an anti-trafficking law in every state of the US.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking. The law provides a three-pronged approach that includes prevention, protection, and prosecution.
Martha E Newton, Deputy Undersecretary of International Affairs at the US Department of Labor (DOL) said, “We do not just diagnose the problem, but also give solutions.”
The US government, along with NGOs, provides assistance to trafficking victims to deal with trauma, and help them get back to becoming self sufficient.
Community people and health care providers are the major sources of identifying victim of trafficking
Identifying foreign victims of trafficking and illegal immigrants is difficult
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking that provides a three-pronged approach: 'prevention, protection, and prosecution'.