World Relief, in serving victims of both sex trafficking and labor trafficking in locations throughout the United States and globally, finds that certain aspects of the U.S.’s current immigration system actually facilitate the injustice of human trafficking.
A recent Department of Justice report found that fully 95 percent of labor trafficking victims were foreign-born; of those, more than 70 percent were undocumented. Traffickers prey upon individuals who, in their desperation to enter the U.S. to escape extreme poverty, believe too-good-to-be-true promises of work and educational opportunities, only to be sold into slavery or prostitution and made to work under force, fraud or coercion.
For undocumented trafficking victims know that they are present in the U.S. in violation of the law. As a result, they fear that reporting violence, threats and labor abuses to law enforcement will result in only their own punishment, rather than their abusers’. Further, they fear that reporting abusers’ crimes could result in harm to their loved ones back home – a threat traffickers use to retain control, deterring victims from running away or going to the police.
In short, our broken immigration legal system has been a trafficker’s best friend. We need to vocally support immigration reform that would bring the undocumented out of the shadows, removing their vulnerability to exploitation, as well as secure our borders to ensure that victims are not smuggled into the U.S. unlawfully. We also must fix our legal immigration system such that people seeking work, reunification with family in the U.S. or refuge from persecution can enter through proper legal channels and not be preyed upon by traffickers.
If we are to be faithful to the biblical call “to proclaim freedom for the captives” (Isaiah 61:1), we must be willing to speak out not only against traffickers but also against a broken system that keeps them in business.
Learn more at Stephan Bauman’s The Christian Post article: Immigration Reform Will Deter Human Trafficking, Not Increase It.