PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Federal immigration officials are launching a public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking, essentially modern-day slavery.
The government says the crime of human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the world’s second largest criminal enterprise, after drugs.
Many victims are lured to the US with false promises of work and a better life, according to Rosemarie Hartmann of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. She says many people coerced into coming here think they are doing so legally.
“They may be held, or controlled by the trafficker — their documents are held, including their passport and license. Their life is not their own.”
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Now, immigration officers are crisscrossing the country, meeting with local police and community organizations to inform them about options for victims, including applying for visas that offer immigration protection so they won’t be arrested or deported.
Officials note that victims of more than two dozen crimes including trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation are not required to be legal immigrants to receive protection from deportation.
Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060