Deeper Cuts Proposed For Human Trafficking Victim Services

BISMARCK — The chairwoman of the state’s anti-human trafficking task force says victim service programs could be in jeopardy under a funding cut recommended Tuesday, March 28, by a legislative committee.

The House Appropriations Committee recommended reducing funding for human trafficking victim services to $250,000 for 2017-19, half of what the Senate approved and one-fourth the level requested by the Attorney General’s Office.

Committee members cited budget challenges as the need to cut general fund spending.

“I do believe it’s an important program,” said Rep. Chet Pollert, R-Carrington. “I do believe we also have to be cognizant of where we’re at.”

The programs, which received $1.25 million in state funding for 2015-17, served 79 victims in 2016, including 26 minors.

Christina Sambor, chairwoman of FUSE, the anti-human trafficking task force, said programs have leveraged the state dollars to receive federal grants, supporting emergency housing, case managers and other programs.

Without sufficient state funding, the programs may not have enough matching dollars to get future federal grants, Sambor said.

“It can put the whole system in jeopardy, for sure,” she said.

To read the full story by Amy Dairymple on the West Fargo Pioneer: Click Here

Lawsuit Accuses Philly Hotel of Providing Rooms to Human Traffickers

A suit filed against the Roosevelt Motor Inn in Rhawnhurst is the first of its kind under the state’s 2014 human trafficking statute.

Roosevelt Motor Inn. Photo via Google Maps

A hotel in Northeast Philadelphia has been accused of regularly providing rooms to human traffickers.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 17-year-old girl who claims she was forced to perform sexual acts with men at the Roosevelt Motor Inn, located at 7630 Roosevelt Boulevard in Rhawnhurst. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, accuses the hotel of knowingly and regularly providing rooms to her traffickers in 2013 and 2014, starting when she was just 14 years old.

It’s reportedly the first lawsuit of its kind under Pennsylvania’s 2014 human trafficking statute, which establishes that businesses that directly or indirectly benefit from human trafficking can be forced to pay compensation to victims.

The lawsuit, filed by Kline & Specter partners Thomas Kline, Nadeem Bezar and Emily Marks, lists the defendants as the Roosevelt Motor Inn; its manager, Yagna Patel; and the company that owns the motel, UFVS Management Company, which operates out of Purchase, New York.

The complaint states that the defendants “failed to take any steps to prevent human sex trafficking at the Roosevelt Motor Inn and instead permitted heinous and unspeakable acts to occur and profited from them.”

To read the full story by Claire Sasko on Philadelphia: Click Here

‘A Gift To Human Traffickers’: Report Warns Of Dangers Of Trump Immigration Policy

Study claims hardened stance on immigration leaves undocumented migrant workers at greater risk of modern slavery and human rights abuses 

Undocumented farm workers from Mexico at work on a farm in California
Undocumented labourers from Mexico at work on a farm in California. Analysts warn the new immigration policy will put such workers at greater risk of exploitation and debt. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s hardline approach to immigration has been branded a “gift to human traffickers” amid concerns that stricter deportation and border regulations will push undocumented migrant workers underground, putting them at greater risk of slavery and human rights abuses.

The new administration’s immigration policy – which hinges on the construction of a US-Mexico border wall and immediate repatriation of illegal immigrants – will force criminal networks to use more costly and potentially more dangerous trafficking routes by air and sea, say global risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft.

According to a report by the company, the controversial stance adopted by the White House towards migrant workers and immigration will be a major driver of human rights risks for business in 2017.

Developed countries are warned that human rights abuses are surfacing closer to home for western companies just as legislation strengthens and scrutiny of business practices increases.

Saket Soni, executive director of the membership organisation National Guestworkers Alliance, said the Trump administration’s new regulations will only exacerbate existing problems and proves that the US government is “part of the problem”.

“Trump’s policies are a gift to human traffickers,” said Soni. “We know firsthand what Verisk Maplecroft’s report confirms: criminalising immigrants makes them more vulnerable to forced labour, human trafficking, and modern-day slavery. Trump’s mass criminalisation will drive immigrants further into the shadows, where increasing numbers of them will face forced labour conditions.”

The report, entitled Human Rights Outlook 2017, draws on Verisk Maplecroft’s portfolio of global human rights data and its interactions with multinational companies to assess the top 10 human rights issues affecting business in the year ahead.

“The US is already classed as ‘medium risk’ in our index measuring modern slavery around the world, and the commodity risk that we’ve done shows that there are already extreme risks for migrants, including those on farms harvesting apples or citrus fruits,” said Maplecroft’s principal analyst, Alexandra Channer.

“There’s already a significant problem for undocumented workers in certain industries in the US. So the impact of these policies will be worsening an already serious issue, which we could see potentially widen to different industries, for example the transportation and hospitality sectors.”

To read the full article by Kate Hodal on The Guardian: Click Here

Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light Campaign

Launched earlier in 2017 under the umbrella of Catholics Confront Global Poverty, Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light campaign calls on Catholics and people of goodwill across the U.S. to spend their consumer dollars on ethically produced and traded products while pressing government leaders to strengthen and enforce anti-trafficking laws.

CRS has fought human trafficking and helped its victims with more than 145 projects worldwide since 2000. Their work connects directly to the lived realities of those served and acts as the foundation for developing and supporting policies and procedures to fight trafficking.

Poverty, civil unrest, violence, lack of education lust for power, greed are all contributing factors in making individuals vulnerable to trafficking.  The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked, so strategies to combat it must address both supply and demand.   Worldwide, human trafficking is a $150 billion enterprise; and it is illegal in every country in the world.

Throughout the world, especially in poor countries, adults and children are lured away from their homes and families with false promises of legitimate work or education.  They end up in mines, fields, factories, farms, construction sites, homes, hotels, brothels, restaurants and workrooms, with low or no pay and terrible working and living conditions.  Nearly all are victims of violence while enslaved. 

Many of the goods produced or grown are sold in the U.S.  CRS wants to raise awareness of human trafficking in labor and asks people to use their voices and their purchasing power to combat it.

Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light campaign urges people to contact their Senators and Representatives to advocate for key anti-trafficking legislation and to purchase a ‘Turn on the Light’ soy candle made by women who have recently resettled in the U.S. from refugee camps. Proceeds will support CRS’ work combating human trafficking and promoting ethical trade practices.

To learn more, visit Catholics Confront Global Poverty and watch the ‘Turn on the Light’ campaign video on CRS’ YouTube channel.

For additional information visit Catholic Relief Services:  Click Here

How The White House Can Join The Fight Against Human Trafficking

You never forget the stories.

Teenagers tricked into forced prostitution. Men who travel halfway around the world for a good job, only to be deceived into forced labor.  Advocates who spend their entire lives fighting to help survivors.

Human trafficking is a terrible stain on our society. As I said earlier this year, it’s an issue that many of us hear about, but don’t fully understand.

Attaching names to the stories can help. Kayla suffered years of abuse from her trafficker, being forced from location to location. At 29, she returned to her home country of Romania, but couldn’t read or write. Today, with the care of specialists and volunteers, she’s thriving.

Harold came to the U.S. on a visa to work at an Indian restaurant in Ohio. But Harold and his family were treated like slaves and needed help from law enforcement and non-profit organizations to escape. Harold is now a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

Kayla and Harold are now making big strides in life, but they couldn’t have done it alone.  They needed help.

At a recent White House meeting with President Trump, I and others in the anti-trafficking field sought to strengthen efforts to provide that help and stop human trafficking. Participants included leaders from the International Justice Mission, the Human Trafficking Institute and Hope 4 Justice, as well as survivors themselves. I was joined by the head of United Way’s Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery, Mara Vanderslice Kelly.

At the meeting, the President committed to putting the full weight and force of his administration behind anti-trafficking efforts. He called it “an epidemic.” Now, it’s time to turn words into action.

To read the full story from Brian Gallagher of United Way: Click Here

Governor Wolf Announces PennDOT Effort to Help Combat Human Trafficking

Harrisburg, PA – In an effort to help combat human trafficking, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is training its front line Driver License Center staff to notice signs of a potential trafficking situation. PennDOT is working with the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association to help arrange this training for their operators as well, and is sharing trafficking awareness information with commercial drivers who visit Driver License Centers.

“I applaud Secretary Richards and PennDOT for their work to combat human trafficking,” said Governor Wolf. “Spreading awareness and training PennDOT employees on how to identify possible human trafficking victims is an important step in fighting this horrific issue.”

“Human trafficking has sadly become a worldwide problem and developed into a $32 billion a year trade,” said PennDOT Leslie S. Richards. “We at PennDOT are doing our part to help spot victims and get them assistance.”

The training, developed by PennDOT in partnership with the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and Truckers against Trafficking, defines trafficking and how victims are forced and coerced into it. The training also instructs employees how to call the appropriate authorities and what information to collect if they see potential trafficking.

As of Jan. 13, every transit agency director across Pennsylvania has been trained, and PennDOT expects its Driver License Center and transit agency staff to be trained by summer 2017.

Additionally, PennDOT is now distributing wallet cards to CDL holders and applicants at its Driver License Centers, which contain information regarding how to report a tip to law enforcement when suspecting human trafficking activities.

Pennsylvania enacted Act 105 in 2014 to define human trafficking and give law enforcement tools needed to go after traffickers.

Here are links to information about human trafficking:

Instances of human trafficking can also be reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 1-888-373-7888.

 

Press release originally found on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Website: Click Here

7 Things You May Not Know About Human Trafficking, And 3 Ways To Help

“The trade in human beings, a modern form of slavery, … violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters and constitutes a true crime against humanity.”  —Pope Francis

 

You may not see the problem, but it’s there. It’s estimated there are more than 21 million human trafficking victims worldwide. This is not something that only occurs in dark alleys in the far corners of the Earth, though. It’s happening around the world every day.

Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery, and there are more slaves today than at any time in history.

“They are hidden from view. You don’t recognize them in the back kitchens, shops, gas stations and in hospitality. They are also tucked away in fields. They don’t come out and ask for help. It’s a different kind of slavery than long ago,” says Dr. Lucy Steinitz, Catholic Relief Services senior technical advisor for protection. “They are not in shackles or on plantations. People are coerced into harsh employment under horrible conditions, and then have no freedom to leave. They are beaten, violated and told they are worthless—that no one else wants them anymore.”

 

Here are 7 facts about human trafficking you may not know, plus 3 ways you can help.

  1. The real definition of human trafficking.
    Human trafficking is the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It’s important to note, though, that human trafficking can include, but does not require, movement. You can be a victim of human trafficking in your hometown. At the heart of human trafficking is the traffickers’ goal of exploitation and enslavement.
     
  2. Exploitation covers more than you think.
    Sexual exploitation and forced labor are the most commonly identified forms of human trafficking. More than half of the victims are female. Many other forms of exploitation are often thought to be under-reported. These include domestic servitude and forced marriage; organ removal; and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade and warfare.
     
  3. Causes of trafficking: It’s complicated.
    The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked, and include economic, social and political factors. Poverty alone does necessarily create vulnerability to trafficking, but when combined with other factors, these can lead to a higher risk for being trafficked. Some of those other factors include: corruption, civil unrest, a weak government, lack of access to education or jobs, family disruption or dysfunction, lack of human rights, or economic disruptions.
     
  4. It’s a lucrative industry.
    Along with illegal arms and drug trafficking, human trafficking is one of the largest international crime industries in the world. A report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) says forced labor generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year. Two-thirds of that money came from commercial sexual exploitation, while the rest is from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture, child labor and related activities.
     

To read the full story by Rebekah Kates Lemke on Catholic Relief Services: Click Here

Us Senator Sees Vatican As Partner In Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery

ROME- United States Senator Bob Corker was in Rome this week to meet Vatican officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, discussing a possible partnership between the U.S. and the Holy See in dealing with human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

“We see the Vatican, the Holy See, as a great partner in this effort. I know the pope has spoken about it on several opportunities,” the Republican senator from Tennessee told reporters on Friday.

The meeting between Corker and Vatican officials took place on the same day President Donald Trump pledged to work on “solving the human trafficking epidemic, which is what it is,” calling it “a priority for my administration.”

Trump was speaking at a Session on Domestic and International Human Trafficking, held at the White House on Thursday.

Corker is also the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee, and late last year he was rumored to be a candidate for Trump’s Secretary of State.

As Corker pointed out on Friday, there’s an estimated 27 million people today living in slavery, more than at any time in the world’s history. An estimated 24 percent of the total are in sexual servitude, with 76 percent of them in hard labor.

“The awareness of this is obviously growing, there are many people around the world working diligently,” Corker said.

As an illegal industry, the human trafficking is among the most profitable, comparable to drug and gun trafficking.

“There are so many people around the world working towards [the end of slavery], but there’s yet to be an international effort to bring all of that together, like the international community did with PEPFAR and dealing with the global AIDS issue,” Corker said.

PEPFAR is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a governmental initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world launched under President George W. Bush.

To read the full story by Inés San Martín on Crux: Click Here

 

Delta Ceo Invites Customers To Join Fight Against Human Trafficking

Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared a LinkedIn post on the morning of March 7th, encouraging customers to join the airline and take action against human trafficking.

Ed Bastian Executive Headshot

 “This is not a comfortable or easy topic, and it’s one that many companies would rather not address,” he wrote in the post. “But at Delta we pride ourselves on being different, and recognize that our moral guidebook, the Rules of the Road, obligates us to speak and make an impact.”

Today, Bastian announced a partnership with Polaris, a leader in the fight against human trafficking and the operator of the National Human Trafficking Hotline. SkyMiles members can now donate miles to Polaris through Delta’s SkyWish program at Delta.com to, “cover the airfare survivors need to return home, receive critical services, reunite with their families or engage in survivor leadership opportunities.” The airline will match the first 3 million miles donated.

Delta was the first airline to sign the ECPAT International Code of Conduct and more than 54,000 Delta people have taken human trafficking training. Learn more about Delta’s efforts and how you can #GetOnBoard or read the full post here.

Survivor Sheds Light On Human Trafficking

Solano County District 1 Supervisor, Erin Hannigan, asks a question at Thursday night’s Human Trafficking Forum at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Dom Pruett — The Reporter
Solano County District 1 Supervisor, Erin Hannigan, asks a question at Thursday night’s Human Trafficking Forum at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Dom Pruett — The Reporter

Elle Snow was 19 when she was unknowingly ushered into the world of human trafficking.

After years of abuse at the hands of her trafficker, Snow was eventually able to escape from the man she once described as attractive and charismatic, who she could confide in about her traumatic youth.

Thursday evening, Snow, now 32, joined a panel of experts on stage at the sold out Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, for the Human Trafficking Forum, presented by Soroptimist International of Vacaville and Vacaville Police Department, to tell her story. 

Before the panel, attendees were shown a short film, titled, “Chosen: Protecting Children in our Community,” which gave real accounts of girls like Snow, who are now survivors of human trafficking. 

For Snow, her trafficker, who is currently incarcerated, first made contact with her around her hometown of Eureka, through what appeared to be casual “bump-ins.”

Kelly Gilliam, director of Anti-Human Trafficking, Nalls Foundation, speaks at Thursday’s Human Trafficking Forum panel at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Diane Barney — Contributed
Kelly Gilliam, director of Anti-Human Trafficking, Nalls Foundation, speaks at Thursday’s Human Trafficking Forum panel at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Diane Barney — Contributed

“It turns out he was stalking me,” Snow said. “I was marked.”

Phone calls eventually evolved into Snow visiting the man at his home in Sacramento.

“He seemed sincere; he wanted to know everything about me,” she said. “It felt therapeutic, like he was trying to help me out.”

Snow later revealed that her trafficker’s urgency to unmask information about her is a common tactic used by traffickers: a red flag.

“They try to get to know all of your hopes and dreams,” she said.

According to Snow, reality sunk in after the first night she stayed with her trafficker.

“The next morning I woke up, and that’s when everything changed,” she said. I woke up to a man standing in front of me holding high heels and clothes, telling me I needed to put them on.”

From that point on, Snow worked off his demands.

“I knew he had a gun and that he would rape me if I tried to run,” she said.

Ultimately, Snow was trafficked throughout the Bay Area for roughly eight months, obliging her trafficker’s order out of fear.

To read the full story by Dom Pruett on The Reporter: Click Here