Reported cases of human trafficking have risen 60% in 2011 compared to 2010, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (HTRS). In fact, reported cases of human trafficking have been steadily increasing for the last five years. Attorney Meyerovich offered a simple explanation for this increase in human trafficking during a recent interview with Connecticut News12.
"Human trafficking is a lucrative business. It generates billions," said Attorney Meyerovich of the industry.
Human trafficking occurs when a victim is held hostage and forced to work against their will. Victims are commonly coerced into becoming commercial sex workers, drug traffickers, or laborers in unregulated industries. Additionally, these victims are often held in deplorable conditions, and suffer physical and sexual abuse.
Local attorneys like Meyerovich are speaking out alongside lawmakers to raise awareness about this prolific, but often unnoticed, human rights issue. In fact, Senator Richard Blumenthal recently joined with Senator Robert Portman of
to co-chair the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking. The caucus will provide a platform for its thirteen members to combat human trafficking and promote increased awareness about this serious issue. Ohio
"This kind of modern day slavery is intolerable," Senator Blumenthal told Connecticut News 12. "These people are treated as inhuman."
Human trafficking goes unnoticed by most citizens because victims are often hidden in plain sight. Traffickers prey on society's most vulnerable, targeting children and young girls, disabled individuals, and illegal immigrants. These vulnerable victims are not likely to seek help for fear of retribution: if they attempt to escape or alert authorities, they suffer horrific abuse and threats of violence -- or worse.
"If they don't obey, they're likely to be killed," Meyerovich said of the impossible situation these victims are placed in.
Attorney Meyerovich, whose firm specializes in immigration law, knows how particularly susceptible illegal immigrants are to human traffickers. Meyerovich explained that immigrants pay alien smugglers exorbitant fees to be brought into the
illegally. Once they arrive, the smugglers demand additional payment for their services, which immigrants cannot afford. They are then coerced into forced labor to repay their "debts," and are held hostage indefinitely. Victims are constantly intimidated with threats of being reported to immigration enforcement, and even the murder of themselves and their loved ones. U.S.
"These immigrants risk everything for a better life in the
, and instead are forced to endure a nightmare of unimaginable abuse when they arrive," said Attorney Meyerovich. "They are scared, often don't speak English, and have no knowledge that U.S. immigration laws protect victims of human trafficking, regardless of their legal status." U.S.
citizens are just as vulnerable to being forced into labor in their own country. While HTRS reports 70% of labor trafficking victims are undocumented immigrants, 80% of sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens. U.S.
"Most American citizens would react with fury and outrage if they knew about it," Senator Blumenthal commented.
Local attorneys like Meyerovich and prominent lawmakers like Senator Blumenthal hope that increased awareness about human trafficking will help turn the tide against modern day slavery. To learn more about human trafficking, including how to recognize victims and report suspected cases, visit the
. To learn more about Senator Blumenthal's involvement in the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, visit his official website. National Human Trafficking Resource Center
To watch the full interview featuring Attorney Meyerovich and Senator Blumenthal, watch the video below.