Furthering My Research After Dr. Talbott’s Talk

As I listened to Dr. Tony Talbott speak about human trafficking in Ohio, what I was most struck by was how ineffective current laws are in trying to help victims of human trafficking. When I looked into this, the results of my research were similarly shocking; the resources we have available don’t adequately help victims, and aren’t being utilized to their fullest extent.

In 2000, the VTVPA was passed, a piece of legislation aimed at cracking down on human traffickers. As part of this law, the government began giving out T-visas to victims of human trafficking, in order to help prosecute those who trafficked the victims in the first place (Polaris Report). A limitation was placed on these visas at 5,000 per year; however from then until 2008, only 1,318 were given out (Human Trafficking Report). This is largely due to the difficulties one faces when applying for a T-visa; those seeking asylum in the United States after being trafficked here face a complex legal fiasco in trying to get a T-visa, which frequently involves approaching a lawyer they cannot afford (Human Trafficking Report). As a result, many go back to the country they came from and are placed in the same situation they came from. One would expect that those who do get their T-visas would be allowed easy renewals, given how so few people receive them in the first place; however, as Talbott noted, victims of trafficking are frequently sent back to their original country as they cannot prove that their circumstances would be extremely detrimental to them.

Growing up in Seattle, it’s difficult to avoid the topic of human trafficking; on the backs of buses and on billboards NGOs have many advertisements up about recognizing the signs of victims. Naturally I became interested in how it compared to Ohio in terms of causes and outcomes. As it turns out, trafficking is a large issue, and it would appear the state government in Washington has responded to it. Washington serves as a large funneling point for much of this country’s international trafficking due to its large amount of ports on the coast, as well as its border with Canada (Washington Human Trafficking). It is also a destination for many victims, due to the vast farmlands and dependency on agricultural workers in the east (Human Trafficking). Thankfully, however, it appears the state government has responded quickly to the issue. Washington State was the first state to pass state specific anti-trafficking laws in 2000, as well as creating a task force to tackle the issue (Washington Human Trafficking). While many other states lagged behind in these regards, Washington has passed every category the Polaris Project uses to judge a state’s trafficking laws, making it a Tier 1 state (2014 State Ratings). While today this is quite frequent, in even 2011 the US was made up of mostly Tier 2 or lower states (2014 State Ratings). There are still people being trafficked into the state of Washington in spite of this of course, but it’s nice to see that progress has been made.

Note: This was written to be posted after Monday’s presentation, but due to difficulties with uploading, it’s being uploaded on Tuesday.




Works Cited

“2014 State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws | Polaris | Combating Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery.” Polaris. Polaris Project, 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/policy-advocacy/national-policy/state-ratings-on-human-trafficking-laws>.

Washington Human Trafficking Report. Rep. Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, 2008. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <http://www.commerce.wa.gov/Documents/OCVA-HT-2008-HT-Report.pdf>.

Human Trafficking Report. Polaris Project. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cicatelli.org/titleX/downloadable/Human%20Trafficking%20Statistics.pdf>.