1. How would you define human trafficking and what does human trafficking consist of? 

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery.  Victims of trafficking are exploited for commercial sex or labor purposes.  Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to achieve the exploitation of victims.

After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world.  It is the fastest growing criminal industry.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 as amended, defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

  • Sex Trafficking: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.
  • Labor Trafficking: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

2. Are there any laws that prohibit Human Trafficking? If so, what are they, when were they created and implemented?

The federal law is the Trafficking Victim Protection Act created in 2000 and implemented every year since then.

3. What are some statistics and national averages of men, women and children that are trafficked around the world?

It is estimated that 600,000-800,000 people throughout the world are trafficked per year*.

More than half of the victims trafficked into the United States are thought to be children; victims are thought to be equally women and men.  Victims trafficked into the U.S. from anywhere in the world, including from within the United States.

The available data may be incorrect (and even larger than stated) because trafficking remains a difficult crime to track.  Many victims cannot or will not come forward and the traffickers remain hidden from police.  Also, many times geopolitics prevent states and/or countries from exchanging information and sharing knowledge about trafficking or statistics.

* U.S. Department of State. 2004. Trafficking in Persons Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State.

4. Who are the victims of human trafficking? How can you recognize a victim of human trafficking? 

Frequently victims:

  • Do not speak English and are unfamiliar with U.S. culture and laws
  • Confined to room or small space to work, eat, sleep
  • Fear/distrust health providers, government, police
  • Fear being deported
  • Unaware that what is being done to them is a crime
  • Do not consider themselves victims
  • Blame themselves for their situations
  • May develop loyalties, positive feelings toward trafficker as coping mechanism
  • May try to protect trafficker from authorities
  • May be unaware of their location because they are frequently moved
  • Fear for the safety of family in home country

5. How do the traffickers control their victims? Why is it hard for the victims to escape?

Force, fraud and coercion are methods frequently used by traffickers to press victims into lives of servitude and abuse:

  • Force: Rape, beatings, constraint, confinement
  • Fraud: Includes false and deceptive offers of employment, marriage, better life
  • Coercion: Threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint of, any person; any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause victims to believe that failure to perform an act would result in restraint against them; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

Many victims in the U.S. do not speak English and are unable to communicate with service providers, police, or others who might be able to help them.  Also, victims are often kept isolated and their activities are restricted to prevent them from seeking help.  Typically victims are watched, escorted or guarded by traffickers or associates of traffickers.  Traffickers may also “coach” victims to answer questions with a cover story about being wife, student or tourist. Many times, victims lack knowledge of their location, financial resources or ability to leave their isolation to seek help.  Often victims do not comply or seek help because of fear.  If they do seek help, they are threatened (or the safety of their family is threatened) and/or abused.

6. When a trafficker is prosecuted, what penalties do they face?

Many laws govern this, which ones are used depend on the depth and scope of the trafficker’s crime(s). If the victim is a child, the length of the sentence will be very long.

The Minnesota anti-trafficking law has been in place since 2005, but has never been used to convict a trafficker. In its current state, the statute is difficult to use to protect victims and punish their traffickers.  So, prosecutors have used the federal anti-trafficking law (TVPA of 2000) or used other Minnesota laws to place traffickers in prison (because many times traffickers have committed other crimes alongside trafficking).

7. In your opinion, do you believe that human trafficking is a partial cause in illegal immigration issues?

Yes, sometimes it is difficult for border patrol to identify human trafficking victims.

8. What immigration services (if any) are provided to the victims?

Forms of immigration relief:

  • Continued Presence
  • T nonimmigrant Status
  • U nonimmigrant Status
  • Lawful Permanent Resident Status

These visas help to provide benefits, such as: legal status in the U.S., public benefits (food stamps, Medicaid, SSI, etc.), work authorization, and bringing family members to the US.  Benefits differ, depending on which visa the immigrant obtains. 

T nonimmigrant status is a more permanent form of relief for victims of trafficking who are assisting law enforcement.

4 eligibility requirements:

  • Is or has been a Victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons (based on the federal definition)
  • Physical Presence in the U.S. on account of trafficking
  • Compliance with any Reasonable Request for Assistance in the Investigation or Prosecution
  • Extreme Hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal

U nonimmigrant status is a visa intended to provide incentive for victims to report crimes to law enforcement thereby helping law enforcement detect, investigate and prosecute crimes

4 eligibility requirements:

  • Victim has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of qualifying criminal activity
  • Possess Information about the crime
  • Has been/is being/is likely to be helpful to authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime
  • Crime occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws

For more information, please contact one of the immigration organizations that Civil Society works with.

9. How can we help? What are ways that we can get involved to stop human trafficking?

Please join in our Sex Trafficking Victim Rights and Dignity Campaign. Learn more about our campaign by clicking here.

Also Become a Part of the MN Human Trafficking Watch!

Or help Civil Society continue our campaign against human trafficking by donating here.