Human Trafficking & Forced Migration

Confronting the Root Causes of Human Trafficking

According to Polaris Project, 77% of persons trafficked in the United States each year are immigrants.” People on the move or recently arrived are at particular risk of exploitation by human traffickers. Alliance to End Human Trafficking (AEHT) and the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd (NAC), faith-based networks that work to end human trafficking, deplore the increase in human trafficking in the United States and around the world, some of which results from unprecedented forced migration.

Human Trafficking is a Crime against Humanity

Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit another; to obtain some type of labor or a commercial sex act. It is a crime under both U.S. and international law. It is a crime against humanity.

Human trafficking dehumanizes and commodifies human beings, depriving those who are victimized of their dignity, as persons made in the image of God. It denies the person’s basic human rights: the right to life, security, freedom of movement, and the freedom from torture and degrading treatment. It is antithetical to the tenets of our faith and the values of this nation.

Learn more about the nexus between Human Trafficking and Forced Migration.

Breaking the Link

Women Religious are leaders in efforts to put an end to the recruitment and exploitation of others by force, fraud, or coercion. They educate the public about the dangers of human trafficking, accompany survivors on their journey to healing, and they work tirelessly to eliminate the root causes of human trafficking, including forced migration. Catholic sisters and their colleagues have seen firsthand how human traffickers prey on those forced to flee their homes by circumstances beyond their control. And they have come to understand the vulnerabilities created by sometimes ineffective U.S. policy and law.

AEHT and NAC have embarked on a months-long journey of listening, analysis and action to address the dangerous nexus between forced migration and human trafficking.

Catholic sisters have a long history of accompanying migrants and those who have been victimized by human traffickers. They know their strength and their vulnerability. They are prepared to address the threat human traffickers pose to those forced to flee their homes, and they are committed to finding practical solutions. By bringing together women religious ministering on the ground, migrant survivors of human trafficking, and policymakers from both sides of the aisle, they hope to provide long-term, systemic solutions that will help to end human trafficking.

Hear More From Those Directly Involved

AEHT and NAC produced a 60-minute virtual briefing that explores the link between forced migration and human trafficking. Panelists, including a migrant survivor of human trafficking and women religious who accompany migrants facing dangers posed by human traffickers, share their experiences and their expertise. Their first-hand accounts clearly illustrate the dangerous nexus between forced migration and human trafficking.

“In the midst of upheaval throughout the world, we must not let the purveyors of evil succeed in trafficking people and using them to prop up their power or fill their coffers,” said Fran Eskin-Royer, executive director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. “How do we stop them? A theme found in the stories of many survivors is that they were in vulnerable situations prior to being trafficked. Our response is how do we reduce these vulnerabilities?”

Thank You Honorary Co-Chairs Rep. Jamie Raskin & Rep. Chris Smith

The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and the Alliance to End Human Trafficking are very grateful to Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. Chris Smith for serving as Honorary Co-Chairs for the June 14, 2023, virtual briefing that marked the beginning of this project. We look forward to working with their offices and with other policymakers as we seek solutions to help migrants and immigrants be safer from the threat of human trafficking.

Rep. Raskin (D-MD) at a March 2022 hearing spoke of the need to “shine a light on the shocking and mostly unknown plague of missing and murdered women and girls in communities of color.” He cited that “[in] 2020, 100,000 of the 250,000 women and girls who went missing in the United States were Black, Brown, or Indigenous.” He went on to say that nearly two-thirds of sex trafficking victims in this country are Black and Latina or Hispanic, and noted that the numbers are just as dire for native women: in South Dakota, Native American women and girls constitute 40 percent of sex trafficking victims.

Raskin prepared a video greeting in advance of the June 14 briefing.

Rep. Smith (R-NJ) is the author of the United States’ landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its 2003 and 2005 reauthorizations. He is also the author of a major child trafficking prevention law, the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders, which became U.S. law in 2016. Most recently, Smith wrote the Frederick Douglas Trafficking Victims Prevention, Protection and Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law in 2019.  A new version is slated to be released imminently.

Smith served five times as Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and is the co-founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus.

Join the Journey

We hope you will join us on this journey to address human trafficking caused by forced migration. Collaboration among non-governmental organizations, government and communities is essential if we are to develop comprehensive solutions that protect people, deter perpetrators and prevent future instances of human trafficking.  Together we can create a world where exploitation is eliminated, and every person can live free with security, dignity and respect.






Stories from Sisters in the Field

Migration & Human Trafficking

April 2023 By Sr. Pat Murphy, RSM, and Sr. JoAnn Persch, RSM For 12 years, from 2010 to 2022, we ...

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Honduras Story

March 2023 This testimony has been shared with the help of Janeth del Carmen Rodríguez Gonzáles, RGS, a religious sister ...

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Other Informative Sites

  • AEHT Additional Resources
  • International Organization for Migration supports migrants across the world developing the resilience of all people on the move, particularly those in situations of vulnerability.
  • Center for Migration Studies of New York is a think tank and an educational institute devoted to the study of international migration.
  • Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons of the U.S. Department of State leads global efforts to combat human trafficking through the prosecution of traffickers, the protection of victims, and the prevention of human trafficking.
  • Office on Trafficking in Persons supports and leads systems that prevent trafficking through public awareness and protects survivors as they rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient.
  • Talitha Kum is an international umbrella organization of Sister-led networks seeking to end human trafficking and exploitation.
  • Red Franciscans para Migrantes shares information, and offers support and protection to people who have been forcibly displaced due to situations of extreme poverty, institutional violence, organized crime, drug cartels, and other exploitative individuals and groups.  The Network focuses particularly on assisting the people of the northern triangle of Central America: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.