Modern-Day Slavery and Cultural Bias: Proposals for Reforming the U.S. Visa System for Victims of International Human Trafficking
22 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2007 Last revised: 1 Apr 2008
The international trafficking of human beings has emerged as one of the most lucrative and far-reaching industries in the world, second only to trafficking in drugs and tied with trafficking in arms. Many victims of international human trafficking, including teenagers and young children, are forced to work in the sex trade. Others work in areas such as agriculture, restaurants and sweatshops. In 2000, in an effort to combat trafficking and encourage trafficking victims to assist in the prosecution of traffickers, the United States enacted the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), which created a new visa, called the T visa, for victims of severe forms of trafficking. As of August 2006, however, immigration officials had approved only 600 principle T visa applications since the enactment of the visa category. This Article identifies several problems with the T visa system that may be responsible for its failure to reach more trafficking victims. It calls for significant changes to the T visa process, primarily the establishment of a Trafficking and Exploitation Victims Assistance (TEVA) program designed specifically to facilitate the identification and evaluation of potential T visa beneficiaries. The Article also suggests interpretations of the T visa statute that recognize the economic and social conditions of the countries of origin of trafficking victims. The Article concludes that implementing the recommendations will lead to a more humane and effective system for protecting international human trafficking victims and prosecuting traffickers.
Keywords: human trafficking, international law, immigration, human rights, women, latina
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