• Becca Niburg

What is Human Trafficking Really?

Trafficking is defined as work that occurs based on force, fraud or coercion. “Work” can be defined in many different ways – it can be workin

g at a business, it can be forcing sexual relations, and it can be forced domestic duties like cooking, cleaning, or taking care of children in an individual home. Any action for which people are usually paid can constitute “work.” And unlike the traffic we encounter on the road, human trafficking does not require movement: someone can be trafficked within their home town or even on their own street.

In an immigration context, trafficking is not the same as smuggling, but smuggling sometimes leads to trafficking. Many times, coyotes and others who assist migrants across the border demand that the migrants undertake some type of work that did not exist in the original agreement. Sometimes migrants are forced to commit sex acts on the coyotes, sometimes they are forced to clean house or prepare food for the coyotes and/or other migrants in their group; either could constitute human trafficking.

Once people arrive in the United States, they may also become a victim of human trafficking separate from their journey into the country. Someone who is not paid for their work, is threatened that they will be reported to ICE if they try to quit, if their employer takes their identification documents and refuses to return them, if they are forced to live in substandard living conditions by their employer, and other situations may indicate that trafficking has occurred.

If any of these situations (or anything similar) has occurred, the person may be eligible for either a T or U visa. U visas are general visas available to victims of crime, T visas are specifically for those people who have been victims of human trafficking. A T visa grants temporary status for up to four years for the immigrant, provides for benefits for family members, includes a work permit, and may lead to permanent residence.

Our firm's founder has trained Congressional staffers, law enforcement, and other attorneys throughout the United States regarding the elements of human trafficking and the legal remedies available to survivors. If an employer has abused or taken advantage of you, you may have remedies and options and we would love to explore them with us. Give us a call today!

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