The Trafficking and Exploitation Victims Assistance Program: A Proposed Early Response Plan for Victims of International Human Trafficking in the United States
110 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2007 Last revised: 15 Apr 2008
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, ground-breaking legislation designed to punish traffickers and protect victims, is not reaching its full potential as a powerful tool against international human trafficking. A principal component of the Act - the availability of special T visas for trafficking victims who cooperate with law enforcement officials against their traffickers - is failing to reach its intended beneficiaries. According to U.S. government statistics, less than one percent of individuals trafficked into the United States have received protection in the form of a T visa. This article identifies weaknesses in the T visa system and proposes reforms designed to make the T visa system responsive to the unique circumstances of trafficking victims. Drawing from lessons learned from another U.S. protection regime - that which is in place for victims of persecution seeking asylum in the United States - this article offers practical, victim-centered solutions for identifying, assisting and protecting victims of international human trafficking. It also proposes a cooperation waiver for those victims whose family members abroad face severe retaliation by their traffickers. Overall, this article emphasizes the need for appropriate treatment of trafficking victims and the establishment of a comprehensive, collaborative system designed to empower, rather than further alienate, victims of international human trafficking.
Keywords: human trafficking, international law, immigration, human rights, women
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