January 29, 2015 23:06 UTC

USA

Human Trafficking a Problem in Major Cities Across US

Click Arrow to Hear This Program:

Play Audio File

Or download MP3 (Right-click or option-click and save link)

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Each year since two thousand one, the American State Department has published a Trafficking in Persons Report. It measures efforts by countries to fight human trafficking. This year's report, out Monday, adds the United States for the first time.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says people are being trafficked into major cities nationwide. Tim Whittman at the F.B.I. is an expert on the problem. He says about twenty percent of the cases involve victims from Mexico -- the largest number of any foreign country.

Bradley Myles is with the Polaris Project, an organization that fights trafficking. He calls it "a very serious problem in the United States." He says some of the victims are forced to work in homes of the wealthy and at restaurants. Activists say some cases of modern slavery involve forced labor in agriculture.

Human Trafficking a Problem in Major Cities Across US
Human Trafficking a Problem in Major Cities Across US

But more than eighty percent of suspected incidents involve the sex trade. That was the finding of a study by the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, established by Congress.

The Polaris Project operates a telephone hotline that receives calls from around the country -- from states such as Texas, California, New York and Florida. Bradley Myles says one of the top five cities where calls come from is Washington. Victims in the nation's capital include women from South Korea, China and Latin America. Some victims are American citizens.

Tim Whittman from the F.B.I. says illegal sex businesses often limit their customers to avoid being caught.

TIM WHITTMAN: "If a person, for example, from Korea is brought in to the United States under false pretenses and then forced into prostitution, very much that place where the prostitution occurs is within, then, the Korean community in the United States."

Deborah Sigmund started a group called Innocents at Risk. She says most of the victims of human trafficking come from economically troubled countries.

DEBORAH SIGMUND: "They want to think that they can come to America and have a great job, so it's very easy to fool them."

Tim Whittman says the smugglers often threaten their victims and make it difficult for them to pay their debts. The threat may be against their family back in their home country. But there are other ways to pressure victims to stay.

TIM WHITTMAN: "A common threat is 'If you leave, I'm going to report you to immigration and you'll be arrested. You'll be kept in prison for a long time.'"

But in reality, there is help.  Victims of human trafficking can sometimes get a special visa. It permits them to stay in the United States for up to four years. During that time, they can request to stay permanently. But with threats, a language barrier and fear of the legal system, victims are often unwilling or unable to seek help.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, with reporting by Elizabeth Lee. I'm Doug Johnson.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • People from the al-Kaseasbeh tribe and other tribes take part in a demonstration outside of Jordan's cabinet in Amman calling for the release of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by Islamic State group militants, Jan. 27, 2015.

    Audio Deadline Passes in Jordan-Islamic State Prisoner Exchange Deal

    Jordan wants proof that pilot is still alive. Also in the news, a gas xplosion near a maternity hospital in Mexico kills at least seven; Benjamin Netanyahu blames Iran for fighting along Israel-Lebanon border; and the World Health Organization's focus on fighting Ebola shifts to ending outbreak. More

  • Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

    Can animals be artistic? Some experts think so. Painting and music are part of efforts to keep animals happy at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Zookeepers there believe that animals need enrichment just like people do. Their unique pieces of art are popular items. More

  • Audio After Elections, Greece May Renegotiate Loans

    The Syriza party has won elections in Greece and formed a ruling coalition. Now, Greece may seek to renegotiate loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund worth $268 billion. However, expert says the cost of Greece leaving the euro zone may be too high. More

  • Burning vehicles are seen near the village of Ghajar on Israel's border with Lebanon, Jan. 28, 2015.

    Audio Israeli Soldiers Killed in Exchange of Gunfire with Hezbollah

    Two Israeli soldiers and a UN peacekeeping soldier were killed Wednesday along the border between Israel and Lebanon. Jordan to trade jailed suspected terrorist for hostage with IS. Afghan cabinet nominees rejected. New Greek government holds first meeting. Democratic ideals are under threat More

  • Audio Lebanese Women Make Peace One Meal at a Time

    War in Lebanon continues. Women from the opposing sides are coming together to cook – thanks to a non-profit called Ruwwad al Tanmeya-Lebanon. Experienced chefs helped the women complete training. Now they are selling their food to organizations such as the Red Cross. More

Featured Stories

  • NYC subway art

    Video New York's 'Underground Museum' Pleases Passersby

    For the past thirty years, artists have been asked to create works of art for New York’s huge subway and train system. The works often relate to city life or to the neighborhood of a station. Some people call it New York’s “underground art museum," with over 250 pieces of original artwork. More

  • agridrone

    Video French Farmers Are Using Drones to Examine Their Crops

    It used to be mostly the military that used small, unpiloted aircraft, called “drones.” The little planes were very costly. But as they have dropped in price more people have begun to use them. Rescue workers and farmers are among the new users. The drones save money and time. More

  • Video Is There a Better Way to Track Passenger Planes?

    New technology could help to more closely follow passenger airplanes, and find them when they crash; international group to meet next month to discuss changes. Airline industry leaders and regulators want to improve airplane safety. They want better, more dependable tracking devices. More

  • Obama

    Audio Has Obama Set the Message for the 2016 Campaign?

    “I have no more campaigns to run … I know because I won both of them.” Mr. Obama cannot run for president again – U.S. presidents may serve only two terms. But some observers say his most recent State of the Union message on the middle class sounded like a campaign speech. More

  • American Sniper

    Video With Oscar Nomination, 'American Sniper' Stirs Debate

    The movie is based on a book by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. He is considered the deadliest marksman in the history of the United States military. The film explores how war can affect a soldier's mental and emotional health and stirs a debate on social media over its message. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs