Officials seek out more human trafficking victims

24.10.2011 12:38



The U.S. government offers roughly 5,000 visas a year to illegal immigrants who agree to testify against the traffickers who brought them to this country and then forced them into prostitution or other servitude. But in the first eight months of this year, only 524 victims applied for the visas and less than half were issued.

Federal prosecutors and officials say they want to raise awareness about predatory human traffickers and put them in prison. U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services officials are conducting a national tour, speaking to immigrant advocates and law enforcement officials about the visa program.

But they are facing the challenge of convincing illegal immigrants to come forward when sentiment against them is on the rise, and the Obama administration is touting a record number of deportations over the last year.

"Someone who came illegally and knew they were coming illegally might think they have no redress, and they are mistaken," immigration services Director Alejandro Mayorca told The Associated Press. Just because someone agreed to be smuggled into the country doesn't mean they should be victimized, he said.

Mayorca also stressed that law enforcement officers, prosecutors or a judge must sign off on the immigrant's application, ensuring against those who try to game the system.

Still, advocates who work with immigrant crime victims say federal officials are in part to blame for the lack of cooperation.

"If you are saturating a community with fear, you are going to create a perfect situation for victims not to come forward and give perpetrators impunity because victims and witnesses are so afraid," said Susan Bowyer, the directing attorney for the San Francisco-based Immigration Center for Women and Children.

She applauded the outreach efforts. In light of new federal policies that require local law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of those arrested for crimes, the government needs a carrot to encourage illegal immigrants to cooperate more than ever, she said.

The visas aren't just rewards to the individual who helped law enforcement. They send a larger message to the immigrant community that they don't need to be scared of law enforcement and that helping police could benefit them, said Gail Pendleton, co-director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based immigrant victim advocacy group ASISTA.

The trafficking visas, or T Visas, are part of a larger pool of visas Congress approved overwhelmingly in 2000 for immigrant victims of crimes. Recipients can eventually apply for citizenship. Another 10,000 U Visas were authorized for victims of crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, other violent acts and even extortion - but again, only for those who cooperated with law enforcement.

Experts say part of the problem is that although the visas were approved in 2000, officials didn't release regulations for implementing the visas until 2007. Many law enforcement agencies didn't want to promote a visa that wasn't even officially available.

But applications for U Visas jumped 56 percent from 10,742 in fiscal year 2010 to 16,768 in fiscal year 2011. And for the last two years, officials have approved the 10,000 U Visas, plus additional ones for the immigrants' relatives. Those immigrants who qualify, but for whom officials don't have space, can get "deferred action," which enables them to stay in the U.S. until new visas become available.



Debbie Marulanda


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"Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions and the actions which speak louder than words. It is making the time when there is none. It is coming through time after time, year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of, the power to change the face of things. It is the triumph of integrity over skepticism".

~Abraham Lincoln






Helping victims of human trafficking is as simple as talking to a friend. Host an event and invite the community to discuss the exploitation of human beings. At this campaign, we are eager to spread the word and we'd like to talk at any community event about human trafficking and victim identification.

For more information, contact us at


Trafficking in Persons Report 2016


Date: 06/30/2016 Description: Trafficking in Persons Report 2016. - State Dept Image











PDF Format

-Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 -- Complete Report (PDF)
-Introductory Material (PDF)
-Country Narratives: A-C (PDF)
-Country Narratives: D-I (PDF)
-Country Narratives: J-M (PDF)
-Country Narratives: N-S (PDF)
-Country Narratives: T-Z and Special Case (PDF)
-Relevant International Conventions/Closing Material (PDF)




These are some of the things you can do to help fight human trafficking:

Be informed! Educate yourself about human trafficking by reading about it. Follow events in the news. Keep your eyes open - human trafficking is happening all around us.

Raise awareness! Talk to friends, family and colleagues. You could even start talking to your local politicians and authorities.

Get involved! Participate in an anti-trafficking movement in your area and get involved in its activities and campaigns (e.g. hold events, distribute posters, leaflets etc.) in your neighborhood and in schools.

Encourage businesses! Be a responsible consumer! Inform yourself on the labour policies of companies to ensure their products are free from slave labour and other forms of exploitation. If possible, buy fair trade products.

Seek support! If you suspect that someone has been trafficked report it to the institutions or assistance facilities dealing with human trafficking in your area.


Office to Monitor and

Combat Trafficking

in Persons


"It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name -- modern slavery."

– President Barack OBAMA

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