Stepping out of silent bondage and into freedom is a scary and painful journey for human trafficking victims. We’ve got to start somewhere, but awareness falls short of helping victims if we’re not equally working to expand the safety net for their journey to freedom. Awareness must lead to action. It’s a complicated issue, but one clear call to action comes with immigration reform. Immigration reform can be a powerful way to combat human trafficking in this country.
Traffickers use threats of deportation as psychological leverage. Lack of language skills and other cultural barriers compound the risks for immigrants held captive. In isolation, they can’t seek help or even know help is available. Immigration law is as complex as tax law. Few understand it, and yet it impacts millions. Through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, U.S. immigration laws provide a way for non-domestic trafficking victims to obtain lawful status. But it can take years for an application to be processed. Immigrant victims of trafficking hide, like many undocumented immigrants, in the shadows of society—unaware of the ability to secure their status. Immigration reform can help spread the word that legal status is available for them.
When we make it safer for victims to step forward we make it safer for our surrounding communities as human trafficking increasingly involves other serious crimes like robbery, gang activity, and drug dealing. So let’s remember, raising awareness for immigrant victims means nothing for a victim who’s too afraid of deportation to seek help. As a powerful group, we Christians can help encourage victims to step forward by getting rid of the illegal alien lingo and compassionately supporting immigration reform. Continue to raise awareness about human trafficking but take action on our broken immigration system, too.
Learn more at Jennifer Allen Jung’s Christianity Today article: Double-Bound: How Immigration Law Can Trap Trafficking Victims.