According to Harvard Law School, there are at least 57,000 individuals involved in human trafficking just within the United States and according to Fairus.org, it is estimated that 17,000-19,000 of those individuals are illegal immigrants.
After being brought into the human trafficking system, many illegal immigrants only have two options, stay loyal to their trafficker or when the chance arises (and that rarely happens) report their trafficker to law enforcement.
While many legal U.S. citizens see the choice as very simple: seek freedom and safety. For many illegal immigrants residing or being trafficked in the United States, the choice is a bit more difficult. Many illegal immigrants avoid reporting their traffickers, if given the chance, because that could result in deportation, according to Harvard Law School.
The idea of people enslaved in horrible conditions rather than being given a safe haven in the United States is in no way ethical, yet they are given few alternatives. As the self-proclaimed greatest country on earth, the United States should allow illegal immigrants who are being trafficked within the United States a break after what can only be a horrific experience.
Rather than immediately deporting victims, law enforcement should issue a green card or make it clear that immigrants who were being trafficked will not be deported instantly after reporting their trafficker.
By not having the threat of deportation, it is likely that illegal trafficking victims will report their trafficker when given the opportunity. This could not only get them out of the human trafficking system, but could also potentially save anyone else being trafficked by their trafficker and get their trafficker incarcerated.
The T Visa was created in 2000 as a special visa for trafficking victims. But since then the visa has been under-utilized significantly. Only about 500-600 of the allotted 5,000 visas are given out each year, according to Harvard Law School.
There is also a large amount of proof that must go into receiving the T Visa. Victims must testify against their trafficker. For human trafficking victims, that can be terrifying, according to Harvard Law School.
In the United States’ Declaration of Independence, it states that all people should be given life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and as U.S. citizens it is our duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves. The best way to help illegal immigrants who are victims of human trafficking is to increase awareness and accessibility of this life-changing safety-net.