The Department of Homeland Security provides that human trafficking involves using force, fraud, or coercion in order to obtain labor from another individual. This may include nonconsensual commercial sex acts.
Approximately 50,000 individuals are brought to the United States each year. These individuals have been forced, tricked, or abducted from their home countries into prostitution or labor.
One example of how human trafficking occurs is when an ad is placed in a different country that promises a modeling job in the United States for several thousand dollars. Individuals who fall for these types of scams are forced into or sold into nonconsensual prostitution or farm labor, potentially for the rest of their lives.
These individuals may face extreme physical harm or even death if they refuse to comply with the demands of the human trafficker. A victim who is forced into labor in the U.S. may be a citizen.
They may also come from another region in the world, regardless of whether they entered into the U.S. with or without a legal status. Human traffickers will frequently target vulnerable populations, which may include:
Victims of forced labor in the United States can be citizens. A victim may also originate from another region of the world, regardless of whether they have entered the U.S. with or without legal status. Traffickers frequently target vulnerable populations, such as:
- Individuals who do not currently hold lawful immigration status;
- Individuals who have incurred recruitment debts; and
- Those who are:
- impoverished; or
Victims of trafficking or forced labor rarely come forward or seek help escaping their situation, which may be due to many factors including:
- They may be unable to escape their physical environment;
- They are too vulnerable to seek assistance, for example, if they are a child;
- Potential language barriers may exist; and/or
- They do not recognize that they are a victim of trafficking.
United States law enforcement has found forced labor occurs in a variety of industries, including but not limited to:
- Illicit massage businesses;
- Domestic work;
- Agriculture; and
- Factory work.
Specific examples of when forced labor may appear include:
- Door-to-door sales crews;
- Bars and restaurants;
- Peddling and begging;
- Health and beauty services;
- Hospitality; and
- Commercial cleaning services.
There are several signs of forced labor that may occur during a worker’s recruitment process, including:
- Force the worker’s acceptance of the job;
- Deceive the worker into an exploitative job; or
- Create debt bondage by charging a recruitment fee that cannot be paid back in a timely manner if at all.
Once the individual is working, their employer may defraud, force, or coerce the victim to do work that was not agreed to at the time of their recruitment. Threats of harm, force, or other abusive practices may be measures that are used to prevent a victim from leaving the job.
Threats may be made against the victim themselves or against their loved ones. Regardless of where a human trafficking victim comes from, the State of Nevada makes it illegal.
What has the United States Government Done to Stop Human Trafficking?
In 2000, the federal statute, The Victims of Trafficking Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), was passed. This statute applies to United States citizens.
It also authorizes protections for undocumented immigrants who are victims of severe human trafficking and violence.
The entire VTVPA was attached as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act and was passed in 2013. The effect of this Act is that the United States now offers a T non-immigrant status, I-914, to those individuals who have been illegally brought to the United States against their will.
There are, however, two requirements for an applicant to receive the benefits and protections of the T-visa. The first requirement is that the victim of human trafficking must prove that they are and admit to being a victim of a severe form of trafficking.
The second requirement is that the victim must be a part of the prosecution process of the trafficker. It is important to note that this law does not apply to immigrants that are seeking admission into the U.S. for any other immigration purpose.
Because the law requires that an applicant participate in the prosecution of the trafficker, individuals who are trafficked may be fearful of retaliation, either against themselves or family members. This, unfortunately, is a major deterrent to many victims who are considering applying.
The law contains provisions for the protection of those individuals who are categorized as a victim of human trafficking primarily for the purpose of:
- Smuggling; or
- Forced labor forms of exploitation.
The T non-immigrant status allows a victim of human trafficking to remain in the U.S. for several years. It also provides permanent residency in cases that involve extreme hardship.
In addition, it offers permanent residency in cases that involve extreme hardship. In addition, the T non-immigrant status allows family members of the victim to remain with them in the United States.
What is the Law in Nevada Regarding Human Trafficking for Financial Gain?
It is unlawful to assist in the transportation of, arrange for transport, or transport an individual into Nevada in exchange for financial gain, which includes money.
Is Trafficking Persons for Financial Gain and Involuntary Servitude the Same Crime in Nevada?
No, trafficking persons for financial gain and involuntary servitude are separate crimes in Nevada. Involuntary servitude is the crime of attempting to or actually forcing an individual to perform services or to work.
This offense occurs when an individual does something such as threaten, physically harm, or restrain a victim into forced labor. Involuntary solitude is typically charged as a category B felony.
However, the penalties may be more severe depending on injury to the victim and the age of the victim.
What is the Penalty for Trafficking in Persons for Financial Gain in Nevada?
Trafficking of individuals for financial gain is a Category B felony, similar to involuntary servitude. As a category B felony, an individual may be sentenced to:
- One to 10 years in prison;
- $50,000 fine; or
- Both a criminal fine and prison time.
What can I Do About Human Trafficking?
If an individual suspects another individual of human trafficking, they should not confront them on their own but should report them to the appropriate authorities. There are steps an individual can take to educate themselves so they can be prepared to report trafficking, if necessary.
It may be helpful to learn how to identify and assist trafficking victims. Human trafficking awareness training is available for citizens, as well as:
- First responders;
- Law enforcement;
- Educators; and
- Federal employees.
Indicators of human trafficking may include, but are not limited to:
- Living with their employer;
- Especially poor living accommodations;
- The inability to speak with the victim alone;
- Signs of physical abuse; and
- Responses appear to be scripted, or rehearsed.
If an individual is in the U.S. and believes that someone may be a victim of human trafficking, they can call the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. An individual can also report an emergency to law enforcement by calling 911.
The U.S. Department Of State website has a list of 20 ways in which individuals can help fight human trafficking in the United States.
Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Human Trafficking Charge?
If you have been charged with human trafficking, it is in your best interests to consult with a Nevada criminal lawyer immediately. Your attorney can advise you of your legal rights as well as any defenses that may be available in your case.
Your lawyer can also negotiate with the prosecution to have your charges reduced or dismissed.