A spike in the number of migrants attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico this spring has led to concerns about a surge in sex trafficking and claims that lax border enforcement is making trafficking easier. We have not seen any evidence that there is in fact, more trafficking happening. Instead, we believe that the concern and calls for policy change to address it are the result of widespread misunderstanding about the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling. Let’s lay out the facts:
Human smuggling is the business of transporting people illegally across an international border, in this case into the United States. Smuggling does not involve coercion. The people the smugglers bring from one place to another place – illegally – generally have chosen to make the trip themselves for any number of reasons. Some are fleeing violence or poverty. Most, and are in fact, paying someone to help them make the journey.
Human trafficking, by contrast, is involuntary and is integral to its very definition. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to get someone to sell sex or work in exploitative conditions. Trafficking – unlike smuggling – does not necessarily involve movement or transportation at all. A person can be trafficked in their very own home. Additionally, anyone under the age of 18 who is involved in sex for profit is considered a trafficking victim, regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion.
So while smuggling might be affected by policies related to border enforcement, trafficking would not.
That is not to say that immigration and human trafficking are entirely unrelated.immigration, Migration
Category: Around the World