Facts about human trafficking in the US
Ready to find out what you know (and don't know) about human trafficking? Check your knowledge against this list of facts about human trafficking in the United States:
Human trafficking wasn't illegal until 2000, when the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed, which made it a federal crime.
The United States, along with Mexico and the Philippines, was ranked one of the world's worst places for human trafficking in 2018. In the US, there is no official number of human trafficking victims, but estimates place it in the hundreds of thousands.
Since 2007, more than 49,000 cases of human trafficking in the US have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which receives an average of 150 calls per day.
The most human trafficking cases have been reported in California, Texas, and Florida, according to the hotline. Las Vegas is also a hot spot due to the city's culture and high rates of homelessness. But every state in the US has reports of human trafficking.
New York, and Queens in particular, is a documented destination for trafficking, because of its location on the eastern corridor, as well as being close to rural areas like Vermont. As Homeland Security assistant special agent Akil Baldwin told AM New York, "New York is the epicenter of everything, legitimate and illegitimate."
It is estimated that between 18,000 and 20,000 victims are trafficked into the United States every year.
Children are more vulnerable than adults. They're easier to control, cheaper, and less likely to demand working conditions, researchers explained. More than 300,000 young people in the US are considered "at risk" of sexual exploitation.
In 2011, California passed a law to help with trafficking in the manufacturing industry. The law required major manufacturing and retail firms to disclose what they were doing to stop human trafficking in their supply chains. By 2015, however, less than a fifth of businesses had complied.
A 2014 study by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, found 71% of labor trafficking victims entered the US legally.
Children raised in foster care have a greater chance of becoming victims. In 2013, 60% of child victims the FBI recovered were from foster care. In 2017, 14% of children reported missing were likely victims of sex trafficking, and 88% of those had been in child welfare, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported.
The Mexican state of Tlaxcala has been identified as the biggest source of sex slaves to the US. In 2015, five out of 10 of Homeland Security's "most wanted" sex traffickers were from Tenancingo, in Tlaxcala. There were estimates that one in 10 people from Tenancingo were involved in trafficking.
Native American women are at particular risk. In 2016, a reported 506 Native American women disappeared or were killed in American cities. In Phoenix, another of the top trafficking jurisdictions in the US, it was estimated that 40% of sex trafficking victims in 2015 were Native American.
In 2016, after US Immigration and Customs arrested 2,000 human traffickers and identified 400 victims, airlines started training staff to spot signs of human traffickers. Some of the signs that someone is a victim are not being in control of their own boarding pass or money and if they seem "disoriented and lost."
Other than the sex trade, trafficking victims often work in private residences, on farms, in the hospitality industry, and in the health and beauty service industry.
Migrant farm workers can become trafficking victims because their legal status in the US is often tied to employment. According to a 2017 report, the most commonly worked crop for victims was tobacco, followed by cattle and dairy, oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries.
There's no accurate estimate on how much money trafficking makes in the US, since victims are often guarded by captors, lack proper documentation, and work behind the scenes.
Now that you know, what can you do? Share this info with another person and if you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit www.hope4justice.org/learnmore/
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