Understanding Federal Laws on Human Trafficking

It seems nearly every day Americans are assaulted with news headlines alleging another person involved in human trafficking or another bust.  The most recent occurrence was a bust in Georgia that freed nearly 40 minors from the grips of trafficking.  This heartbreaking reality is occurring at record-breaking numbers; however, awareness of the problem is rapidly increasing.  Thankfully, there are many federal laws regulating the practice, learning more about this horrific form of modern-day slavery can help you protect those you love.

Human Trafficking IS ILLEGAL

Human trafficking is a highly illegal practice under both federal and state law.  Every single U.S. state fully bans the practice.  Furthermore, this practice is illegal under international law.  In the year 2000, the federal government passed laws directly addressing human trafficking known as the “Trafficking Victims Protection Act.”  This legislation was put into effect to address three important facets of the human trafficking problem, prosecution for offenders, prevention, and protection for those impacted.  As necessary, this law has been continuously updated over the years, the most recent amendments occurring during 2017.  Despite these efforts, statistics tell a sad story of approximately 18-20,000 people becoming trafficking victims during any given year in the U.S.

Types of Human Trafficking

There are two distinct reasons people are trafficked, for forced sex or labor.

In the case of sex trafficking, federal law 22 USC § 7102 defines severe forms of trafficking in persons as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.”

In the case of labor trafficking, federal law 22 USC § 7102 defines severe forms of trafficking in persons as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt, bondage, or slavery.”

Who Is Most at Risk?

Certain populations are at increased risk of trafficking.  Foremostly, young children and teens are easy targets and easy victims.  Children are vulnerable and easy to exploit and control.  Those who come from difficult backgrounds are at an even higher risk.  Those in foster care are the most frequently trafficked victims in the U.S.  Not to mention, children who grow up in poverty are at times exploited by their own parents in order to obtain money or drugs.