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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

Busting the Top Five Myths of Human Trafficking

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Human trafficking - considered modern-day human slavery - is one of the worst crimes investigated by the Department of Homeland Security. Victims are often forced into prostitution, held captive by involuntary labor, and forced into other forms of servitude to repay the cost of their trip to the United States.

Myth #1:  Human trafficking only happens in other countries. It does not happen in the United States.

FACT: Human trafficking exists in cities, suburbs and rural towns across the United States. Human slavery may even exist in your community.

Myth #2:  Human trafficking only happens to poor women.

FACT: Victims of human trafficking can be any age, race, gender or nationality. They can be men or women, young or old, American or from abroad, with or without legal status.

Victims are often lured with false promises of well-paying jobs or are manipulated by people they trust. Instead, they are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor, or other types of forced labor.

Traffickers prey on victims with little or no social safety net. They look for victims who are vulnerable because of their illegal immigration status, limited English proficiency, and those who may be in vulnerable situations due to economic hardship, political instability, natural disasters or other causes.

Myth #3:  It’s easy to spot victims of human trafficking

FACT: Trafficking victims are often hidden in plain sight, voiceless and scared. You can help bring the perpetrators to justice. Everyone has a role to play in combating human trafficking. We rely on tips from the public to take down human trafficking organizations. Keep your eyes and ears open to suspicious activity, and if you see something, say something. Recognizing the signs is the first step in identifying victims. Please read our Human Trafficking 101 information to become more aware of what may be going on in your neighborhood.

Myth #4:  If a victim of human trafficking speaks out, they will be removed or deported from the U.S.

FACT: In October 2000, Congress created the "T" nonimmigrant status by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). The legislation offers protection to victims and allows law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human trafficking.

Myth #5:  Human trafficking and human smuggling are the same.

FACT: Human trafficking is exploitation-based. Exploitation is defined as sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or if the person forced to perform such an act is under 18 years of age. Please read an expanded definition of human trafficking from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Human smuggling is transportation-based and involves deliberately breaking immigration laws when bringing people into the U.S. This includes bringing illegal immigrants into the U.S., as well as unlawfully transporting and harboring illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

If you suspect a case of human trafficking or human smuggling, please call the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip-line at 866-347-2423 to report it. You can also report online at