I know that many of you are on the front lines of the fight against human trafficking, so I wanted to use today, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, to applaud your important work and share resources with people who are wondering: “What can I do to help?”
Human trafficking takes place in all 50 states, but unfortunately, this crime is too often hidden in the shadows. Statistics are hard to obtain, though the State Department estimates that more than 15,000 people are trafficked over U.S. borders each year, and many hundreds of thousands are trafficked domestically.
LIRS encounters foreign-born survivors of trafficking through our Children’s Services Department. In each case, LIRS child specialists and our local partners ensure that these children and young adults receive the social and immigration services they critically need to start the recovery process. The story of Evelyn Chumbow exemplifies the horrors of trafficking and how LIRS works to combat it. Many other wonderful non-profits work on behalf of American-born victims of trafficking. However, far too many children and adults are still falling through the cracks.
This is a grave issue, and we want to be sure that comprehensive immigration reform tackles it. But until the day real reform is achieved, there is much we can do to aid people caught up in trafficking, and those who’ve survived through their courage and faith. It is only through common knowledge and collaborative action that we’ll be able to End Human Trafficking Now (EHTN)!
Educate: Knowledge is the most powerful tool against trafficking.
- Educate your family, friends, and peers on trafficking. The greatest weapon traffickers possess is the public’s lack of knowledge. One key tool to fight back will be LIRS’s Human Trafficking Mythbuster, which is due for release soon, so please watch this space! As you keep an eye out for that resource, which will debunk many of the most common misperceptions about trafficking, you can tap into this training module and fact sheet, as well as tools like this one from the State Department.
- Engage your congregations in conversations on human trafficking through bible studies on slavery-related readings, i.e Philemon. The EHTN bible study and bulletin insert are on the End Human Trafficking now webpage.
- Find out what training your local law enforcement officers have in this area. No community is free from trafficking, and it is only through a concerted effort from citizens, law enforcement, and legislators that we will combat trafficking.
Advocate: We must come together to advocate for effective legislation that is tough on perpetrators and compassionate towards survivors.
- Find out your state’s current human trafficking legislation record, using this great Polaris Project tool, and advocate for stronger laws.
- Visit LIRS’ Action Center to write to your elected representatives on the need for comprehensive immigration reform, because our broken immigration system leads to desperate circumstances that leave vulnerable people easier to ensnare and exploit.
- Speak out through the media by writing a letter to the editor (some useful general guidelines are here) or through penning an op-ed. If you’re interested in writing an op-ed for your local paper, you can contact LIRS for advice and resources.
Recognize and Report: If we all act as watchdogs, traffickers will have nowhere to hide.
- Use Polaris Project’s human trafficking hotline: 1-888-3737-888
- Seek training in how to recognize and fight trafficking if you’re an employee of a high-risk industry, such as transportation. Truckers Against Trafficking or Airline Ambassadors International can help with resources.
- If you see something that leads you to believe you’re witnessing human trafficking, say something to law enforcement officers.
If you are a veteran of the fight against trafficking, I thank you and hope that you’ll share this post and its resources with your network. If you’re just starting to tackle this issue, I hope you can take some of these tools and begin making a difference in your community. If we all make an effort, we can end human trafficking!