Newscity: Modern Day Slavery

Human Trafficking Still An Issue In America

Robin Babb
3 min read
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Each year, thousands of people are sold into indentured labor and trafficked across the country and the world. According to the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General, “More than 18,000 victims are trafficked into the US annually and more than half of those victims are children.”

Many of those 18,000 will enter the states through New Mexico, and through Albuquerque in particular. Because of our position near the US/Mexico border and the fact that we’re right at the intersection of two major highways, Interstates 40 and 25, Albuquerque is a corridor for human trafficking.

According to the Albuquerque Police Department’s 2015 annual report, the police responded to seven reports of human trafficking last year. The number of cases that go unreported is probably much higher, especially since trafficking can easily go unnoticed by the public.

“Human trafficking is invisible to the public in many ways” says Lynn Sanchez, Program Director of The Life Link, a Santa Fe-based organization that provides aftercare, housing and trauma treatment for victims of human trafficking, among many other humanitarian services. “It’s different from [paid] sex work. You won’t run across these people in public.”

Victims of human trafficking are frequently forced to stay inside when not working and don’t have any interaction with the public, and thus a slim chance of getting in touch with somebody who could help them. Removed from any real-world context, many victims—especially children—don’t know that their situations are unusual or illegal.

Although sex trafficking is the most widely known and acknowledged form of human trafficking, there are also victims who are sold into general labor. These victims frequently work in service industries like gardening, house cleaning and food service, without seeing a dime in wages. Although some victims are smuggled across the border against their will, there are some that come to the US of their own free will in search of work.

According to Sanchez, “Many [trafficking victims] come to the States looking for jobs that they think will improve their lives, but find themselves in these situations where they’re not getting paid, they’re scared of getting deported, they’re scared that the trafficker will somehow hurt their family. Fear is what traffickers rely on.”

On July 29, the City of Albuquerque and The Life Link are teaming together for the New Mexico World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This event, which will take place at Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza from 9am-1pm, is about raising awareness of human trafficking in the state of New Mexico and educating the community about how they can get involved in the campaign to stop it.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas will speak at the event. In addition to speakers and information sessions, there will be live music and food trucks. There will also be an interactive exhibit called SOLD: The Human Trafficking Experience. According to their website, SOLD is a "multi-sensory experience that will educate you on the shocking reality of human trafficking, both locally and globally.”

“We need to spread the word that New Mexico isn’t a place you can come and get away with this,” says Sanchez.

Show up to to learn how you can help put an end to modern day slavery.
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