Human Trafficking and Immigration: a Two-headed Hydra

If you’ve been watching the news, and you were paying attention to your News Feed online, you would notice that there is a disturbing trend. There seems to be an evil pairing of human trafficking and immigration. It seems like when you come across an immigration story, human trafficking issue is really not all that far behind.

What’s going on? Why does it seem that immigration and trafficking are joined at the hip? While not all immigration stories involve trafficking, please understand that human trafficking almost always involves immigrants. The reason for this is actually quite simple. Traffickers use the desire of migrants to improve their lives to enslave people.

I know that’s kind of a harsh way of saying it, but there’s really no other way to describe the situation. For example, there is no shortage of the news stories of people migrating from Southeast Asia to parts of California or New York, and these individuals, normally young or middle-aged women, are made to work 16 hours a day at sweatshops. You would think that such stories are relics of the distant past. Unfortunately, you are mistaken.

We wish this was true, but sadly, we live in a world of globally connected criminal enterprises that are in the business of supplying cheap labor. We’re talking about people who are forced to cover their migration costs. These women are made to work for cents on the dollar for ridiculously long hours every single day, just so they can pay their cost of passage.

You would think that such arrangements are outdated relics of the 1800s, but you would be absolutely wrong. This still happens in this present day. No nationality, no regional group, no religion is immune to this. The abusers of course share the same cultural background as the victims. In these situations, the victims are open to the oppression, abuse of all kinds, and their working conditions, as well as their living quarters, are no different from the living quarters of slaves a couple of hundred years ago.

Talk about unacceptable and horrific. It all of arises from the exploitation of immigrants. This is why no-trafficking works closely with the United Nations’ policy-making bodies involving humane migration policies. By adequately tracking immigrants, whether legal or illegal, we can make a serious dent against human trafficking.

The key here is to diffuse and eliminate the stigma of illegal immigration. A lot of human traffickers are able to operate under the radar because many of the migrants they exploit are “undocumented” or “illegal” immigrants by treating all immigrants as equal, regardless of their status, we can go a long way in putting an end to human trafficking once and for all.

Indeed, so many undocumented immigrants are so scared of going to the police or local law enforcement authorities that they would put up with all sorts of oppresive situations. Again, the descent into human trafficking is not exactly smooth or well-defined. There is no black and white dividing line. They first become desperate for jobs then they get extorted regarding getting turned into the police or immigration police. It’s a slippery slope from that point on.