Free Essay on Problem Overview: Human Trafficking

Published: 2023-05-22
Free Essay on Problem Overview: Human Trafficking
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Public policy Sexual abuse Human trafficking Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1742 words
15 min read

Human trafficking has been the subject of growing attention from both scholars and policymakers in the United States. Globalization has made it one of the most common illegal practices in the world. However, research into policy and methodologies aimed at curbing this vice is at its infancy (Denton, 2016). The internationally accepted definition of human trafficking identifies three major purposes of the vice. These include sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, and the removal of organs (Andrade, 2019). Nearly two decades after passing of the Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA), the United States, one of the known destinations for international trafficking, is yet to fully and appropriately respond to this social phenomenon (Beale, 2018). The issue has further been exacerbated by the internet, where people, mostly children, and young adults are lured into the vice with promises of better-paying jobs and opportunities. Despite the recent efforts by the federal government to institute legislation and prosecute the culprits, the citizens of the United States are yet to be mobilized about the issue.

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Scope of the Problem

As a form of modern slavery, human trafficking has been responsible for the tearing of communities, fuelling criminal activities, and threatening the national security of the United States and other countries around the world. The Department of Homeland Security estimates the number of victims of human trafficking to be around 25 million worldwide, out of which 98% are women and children. A Trafficking in Person reports categorized human trafficking as one of the fastest-growing organized crime with annual revenue of US$9.5 billion and among the most lucrative underground business (Grubb, 2019). As a global leader in the fight against human trafficking, the United States has been inexorable in resolving and exterminating the vice in the cities, suburbs, rural communities, tribal land, and in the transportation network.

Policy Dealing with Issue

According to the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude...shall exist within the United States" (U.S. Constitution, Amendment 13). This principle forms the foundation concept of the human trafficking policy of 2000 (TVPA, 2000). It is important to note that although human slavery had officially been sanctioned through the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865, the constitution had not anticipated human trafficking as an issue, and therefore there were no policies against it before TVPA. Previously, (before 2001), anybody found within the U.S. borders without proper documentation was regarded as an illegal immigrant, and cases of human trafficking were prosecuted using different federal criminal statutes (Carter, 2012).

This system resulted in a lack of consistency in sentencing and prosecution across the country without means of differentiating between victims and perpetrators. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 by Congress helped in addressing these issues by first defining human trafficking and creating prosecution tools aimed at providing services to victims of human trafficking. This policy was signed into law in 2006 by President Clinton to help in protecting and providing assistance to victims of human trafficking, prosecution of perpetrators, and help the country in its efforts to prevent human trafficking within its borders and in other countries.


Over the years, the federal government has been strengthening its responsiveness to human trafficking by instituting different policies. For instance, in recognition of the complex nature of human trafficking, the U.S government has formed multidisciplinary teams to combat it. This means incorporating different expertise from different agencies or ministries that may have nexus to human trafficking.

The Domestic Policy Council commits one employee position to work on issues related to curbing the occurrence of human trafficking. The employee is required to coordinate with employees from the office of the Executive Office of the President on this effort (Dahlstrom, 2020). This is done in collaboration with several Departments including labor, health and human services, transportation, and homeland security. The Secretary of State is also mandated with the responsibility of combating human trafficking on behalf of the President's Interagency Task Force. To achieve this, the Secretary of State is required to list down all the Federal Government's resources available in combating the vice. Other personnel to be involved in this task include the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Homeland Security, as well the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Dahlstrom, 2020). The coordination among these Secretaries is aimed at improving methodologies of determining the prevalence of human trafficking in the country, including in specific sectors, and monitoring the influence of the anti-human trafficking efforts.

While all these policies and laws have been enacted in all 50 states in the bid to criminalize human trafficking, their total effectiveness is yet to be achieved. Laws and policies can only become effective following proper enforcement, which has lacked in the United States and many countries across the globe. Proper enforcement of laws and policies requires thorough and comprehensive training of law enforcement officers on the issue of human trafficking. A study by Farrell et al. (2014) argued that there will always a lag or even a complete disconnect between the enactment of laws and the enforcement unless the criminal justice organization is actively involved in seeking change and adopting institutional response aimed at enforcement. Based on this, it is, therefore, true that TVPA can only make a difference if it is enforced by well-trained law enforcement officers. These officers need to be able to differentiate between prostitution and human trafficking. For instance, women and children have been arrested many times for prostitution, while in actual case they are victims of human trafficking.

Policy Alternative

A well-trained law enforcement officer should be able to recognize and identify human trafficking immediately. Since the law enforcement officers are not trained to the required extent, trafficked women and children are looked at and treated like criminals. The Training offered at the Federal programs such as Blue Campaign, ICE, and FLETC are generalized and therefore failing to provide the required focus on the issue of human trafficking. Most of the law enforcement officers in these programs believe that human trafficking is rare and not in their jurisdiction. As a result, only a few of them are prepared and ready to investigate cases of human trafficking. Research by Renzetti et al. (2015) found out that less than 25% of officers receive training on how to handle cases of human trafficking, and less than 10% of them are assigned to a jurisdiction with protocol or policy on human trafficking. In other words, only a few officers consider human trafficking as a serious and abundant offense and therefore resulting in a lack of knowledge in the area due to lack of training within their jurisdictions. Owing to this, the amount of prosecution is extremely low as compared to what would have been if the law enforcement officers were capable of identifying and recognizing instances of human trafficking.

Since there is a clear need for identification, the United States Congress must establish a clear policy for training more law enforcement agencies on the issue of human trafficking. The officer should be trained on the identification of victims and perpetrators of human trafficking, as well as on schemes through which the victims can receive protection and continuing legal status. It is also crucial for the federal government to enhance the prevention of human trafficking and child exploitation through education partnerships (Reed, 2019). Here, the office of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Education should partner with the State, Local, and tribal law enforcement officers to fund programs aimed at preventing child exploitation and human trafficking in the country. These programs should be introduced in the Nation's youth in school, in line with the applicable law, as well as the available appropriations.

Different departments within the federal government should also work together to enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to locate victims of human trafficking and missing children, including those reported as missing from their foster care and federal custody. This can be achieved by engaging social media platforms and the available technology, as well as the State, local, ad tribal child welfare agencies to identify cases of missing children or adults which might be related to child exploitation or human trafficking (Reed, 2019). The Secretary of Health and Human Services should collaborate with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in establishing an internal working group mandated with developing and incorporating practical strategies for the State, local, and tribal government, child welfare agencies, and faith-based as well as other community organizations to expand housing options for the victims of human trafficking.

The needs of victims of human trafficking and child exploitation are complex and extensive. As a result, it is almost impossible for government agencies to effectively respond to their needs. There are, however, several NGOs that may help in offering core services such as case management, social services, some legal assistance (Foot, 2020). Other services may also be obtained through collaboration with other organizations such as sexual assault shelters, health clinics, counseling, language translation, etc. Such collaboration in meeting most the needs of the victims is supported by the development of HHS anti-trafficking community coalitions, OVC's comprehensive service initiatives, and multidisciplinary anti-trafficking task forces across the country that require collaboration among Federal, State, and local law enforcement, attorneys, other government agencies, NGOs, and victim service providers (Schalin, 2018).

Other collaborations that might help address the victims of human trafficking and child exploitation include SEEN coaling of the Suffolk County (MA) Children's Advocacy Center. The main goal of this agency is to increase awareness and identification of services that might be required by exploited teenagers through prostitution. The agency provides guidelines aimed at ensuring that within 48 hours after identification of a victim of exploitation through prostitution, representatives from all the relevant agencies, including law enforcement, child protection services, medical, and district attorney convene to jointly ensure the immediate safety of the victim are enrolled immediately, and plans for long-term needs and recovery are put in place.


Andrade, M. A. (2019). Combating Human Trafficking in the United States: Causes, Misconceptions, and Indicators.

Beale, S. S. (2018). The Trafficking Victim Protection Act: The Best Hope for International Human Rights Litigation in the US Courts. Case W. Res. J. Int'l L., 50, 17.

Carter Jr, W. M. (2012). The Abolition of Slavery in the United States: Historical Context and Its Contemporary Application. The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary (Jean Allain, ed., Oxford Univ. Press, 2012), 2015-42.

Dahlstrom, J. (2020). The Elastic Meaning (s) of Human Trafficking. California Law Review, 108.Denton, E. (2016). Anatomy of offending: Human trafficking in the United States, 2006-2011. Journal of human trafficking, 2(1)

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