Human trafficking is a nearly $32 billion industry and more than 27 million people are victims of the illicit business on an international scale, according to the Polaris Project, which is tasked with fighting human trafficking in its various forms.
The Administration for Children and Families, which works with the Department of Health and Human Services, estimates that human trafficking is the second fastest growing black market activity.
In 2013, the state’s Human Trafficking Policy Task Force found that immigration plays a unique role in the underground world.
“Undocumented workers are often particularly vulnerable to abuse due to their lack of immigration status and fear of deportation,” a report by the task force stated.
Additionally, many who are the victims of trafficking for forced labor or sex slavery have trouble getting the services they need.
“Other realities inherent to victims of human trafficking, such as a survivor’s criminal history, lack of housing history, and/or immigration status, may make it difficult or impossible for survivors to qualify for government services,” the agency’s report said.
New tactics are recommended to law enforcement by the agency, which encourages authorities to explain to potential victims that questions about trafficking are not intended to determine somebody’s immigration status.
New legislation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker at the beginning of August is aiming to allow police in Massachusetts to hand over illegal immigrants suspected of crimes, including human trafficking, to federal authorities.
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