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Type of document: News
Geographic descriptors: United States of America
Language: English
Date of publication: 09 September 2004
Long Abstract: MICHIGAN:IMLAY CITY - Human trafficking and slavery is alive and well, including in mid-Michigan, law enforcement officials and social service agents were told Wednesday. While some of the methods of the slavery do not involve physical violence, fear and intimidation of undocumented aliens are a serious and difficult problem, said Katherine Kaufka, a staff attorney with the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center in Chicago. Kaufka, who spoke at the meeting of the Thumb Area/Bay Area Migrant Resource Council at Sacred Heart Church, said in America there are between 18,000 and 20,000 victims a year of the international slave trade. Invited to the meeting were members of area police agencies, including the Lapeer County and Huron County sheriff's departments, Imlay City, North Branch, Almont and the state police. Speaking to the police officials, Kaufka said victims of human trafficking and slavery face a dilemma in seeking help to escape their servitude. "Often (police) are the first point of contact, but they are often afraid to talk to law enforcement," Kaufka said. "They don't trust government or badges at all." Identifying victims is also difficult because many of the victims have been brought here to perform illegal acts, such as prostitution, Kaufka said. Careful questioning and investigation can often lead to the discovery of people brought here and kept in work situations against their will. New laws provide financial and legal help for illegal immigrants who are victims of human trafficking, Kaufka said. Part of the help requires the help of the victims in identifying and prosecuting those who brought them here.
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