Sitting in a concrete room, surrounded by cinderblock walls and a small window barred by steal poles, she looks outside the window to see the red and light flashing lights. These lights signal hope: freedom from her caged life. But these sirens just transport her to her next cage, sitting on the border now waiting to get sent home to a place she has no memory of from a place she had no choice but to come to. Sitting in these ICE facilities, she realizes that her supposed savior is the one who just moved her from one cage to another.
The role of the government is to protect the rights of the people and ensure their liberties are not infringed upon. However, in a world where slavery is abundant even after hundreds of years of abolitionist movements, there are often supposed truths that are not held true. The truth is the government has failed its people repeatedly by not only failing to rescue them from their captors, but also endangering them further with the policies that are in place with the government.
Policies that are in place are currently not victim centered, which means that capturing a trafficker is more important than saving the victims. The issue with this is that the victims are considered collateral to the mission, further endangering the victims. Law enforcement leaves victims to fend for themselves, giving them no help to assimilate back into society or other help. Many victim service providers express how they spend months trying to get law enforcement to come talk to the victim which continues to deplete the victim’s hope, further leaving them in limbo where they have no stability or home. By not being prepared for the victims when they are ready pushes victims away from asking for help and speaking out against their abusers. If law enforcement officers were present and ready as soon as they are needed, then they would likely get more information from victims in order to capture a trafficker and protect vulnerable people and provide a sense of safety to people who have had everything taken from them. There is not an established and practiced channels for law enforcement to prioritize the victims when they bust huge human trafficking rings instead of prosecuting the abusers which proves that the law isn’t victim centered; it’s criminal justice centered. The truth is that a criminal justice centered approach attacks the root of the problem instead of the symptoms of it. The true root of human trafficking comes from the traffickers’ intentions and the demand from customers, and the victims are just the casualties to this horrific desire.
There are quite a few members of law enforcement that are part of the trafficking process. Traffickers often work with law enforcement to protect themselves and incite fear in their victims so the victims feel like even the members of society that are supposed to save them will not. Trafficker’s number one tactic to control their victims is fear, and they often use police as a threat towards the victims and sometimes law enforcement officers are reaping the sick pleasures of human trafficking, further instilling this fear into the victims. When victims get confirmation of the threats that traffickers tell them, they are conditioned to keep their mouths shut and not speak out now knowing that the people that are supposed to help them may be facilitating their captivity, which truly slows down the ability of law enforcement to rescue other victims because the best way to discover a trafficker’s MO is by interviewing the victims. Victims can provide a deeper insight into the traffickers’ operations since they have firsthand experience with how he or she conducts business. Policies that are in place are currently not victim centered, which means that capturing a trafficker is more important than saving the victims. The issue with this is that the victims are considered collateral to the mission, further endangering the victims. Law enforcement leaves victims to fend for themselves, giving them no help to assimilate back into society or other help.
Another reason that victims are terrified of asking for help is fear of facing legal consequences through immigration customs. There is a sad abundance of survivor punishment where federal or local law enforcement arrest, fine, imprison, deport, or otherwise punish survivors. Even after victims finally get attention from law enforcement, because of the harmful government policies in place, they suffer again at the hands of the government. They get punished for supposedly engaging in illegal activity when they weren’t given a choice. If the government wants victims to speak up to help capture traffickers and end human trafficking, it needs to implement more effective policies that ensure that victims get the help they deserve, not punished. Victims in the United States are often sent to ICE facilities and deported to their mother country. Often victims get stuck with human traffickers because their traffickers promise them passage to the US or an escape from an abusive country or relationship and instead get stuck in another hopeless situation. However, by sending these trafficking victims back to the same situation they were trying to escape, they will sacrifice anything again to reach safety within the United States, possibly getting them stuck in another terrible trafficking situation again.
There are many ways that governments, not only within each government but globally as an interconnected system, could help human trafficking survivors far more. Trafficking rings can be international and the best way to combat these international rings is to have an international entity that can fight them with the combined knowledge and resources of the entire world. In order to increase the international ability to combat human trafficking, trafficking identification information needs to be removed from the responsibility of immigration officials and should be moved to the jurisdiction of multinational organizations in order to globalize child protective services. If anti-human trafficking organizations are combined internationally, governments will not have to go through legal battles in order to find information to find trafficking victims.
Human trafficking is global issue, and it is the government’s responsibility to protect its people. Although the government attempts to create programs that try to rescue traffickers, there are so many changes governments can make to protect their most vulnerable citizens.
Amantia, Rebecca, Veronica L. Irvin, Ellen Smit, Jessica R. Seifert, and Jonathan Garcia. 2020. “Human Trafficking: The Relationship between Government Efforts & Survivor Punishment.” Global Public Health 15 (10): 1496-1508.
Goodey, Jo. 2008. “Human Trafficking : Sketchy Data and Policy Responses.” Criminology & Criminal Justice 8 (4): 421-442.
Heil, Jennifer. 2009. “Human Trafficking and the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act: How the System Can Hurt the Victims.” Student Anthropologist 1 (1): 9–10. doi:10.1002/j.sda2.20090101.0003.
Peters, Alicia W.. 2015. Responding to Human Trafficking : Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Law. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Accessed October 9, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central.