IOFA Talk

IS Slave Trade Blog

In recent months we have been exposed to the terrorist group the Islamic State (IS), formally known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), slave trade market. Although these sexual slave markets were news to many, they have been used to subjugate women and children in Syria and neighboring areas since at least August of 2014. The highly organized slave trade has been fueled by the abduction of more than 5,000 victims. These survivors range in age from under ten years old to over 50 years old (New York Times, 2015).

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Language matters: The Refugee Crisis in Europe

At every IOFA training, we start by exploring the importance of language. We talk about words like the conflation of prostitution and trafficking, victim and survivor, and rescuing and empowering. “Why are we even talking about this?” We spend time exploring the words we use around these issues because they matter.

To paraphrase a bumper sticker, what we think affects what we say, and what we say affects what we do. If we truly want to have the desired effect we purport to work for – empowering survivors to recover from experiences of exploitation so they may live happy, healthy, productive lives of their own choosing –then we need to reflect this mentality through the words we use to discuss it.

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We’ve launched our new website!

Like the young people we serve, our organization has seen a lot in fifteen years. With this site, we hope to share the lessons we've learned and the accomplishments we've made to inspire others who share our mission. Let this be your source for research, technical assistance and innovation to address critical and emerging issues affecting young people around the world.

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Adolescents & the Border Crisis Pt. 4: Push-Pull Factors and Child Migration

News surrounding the crisis at the border has shed light on the dramatic increase of immigrants fleeing their countries of origin. The number of unaccompanied minors has grown from 6,800 between 2004 and 2011 to 13,000 in 2012, and 24,000 in 2013. This year, that number will reach almost 90,000. According to these estimates, the number of unaccompanied young people coming to the United States has increased by more than a 1000 percent in ten years. However, even with the dramatic increase, the unaccompanied minors who have fled their countries of origin only account for 0.15 percent of the foreign population and 0.4 percent of the population of immigrants fleeing from Central America.

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Adolescents & the Border Crisis, Pt. 3:  The Impact of Border Migration on U.S. Youth Policy

Placement with relatives in America does not end the child’s vulnerability to trafficking (Lind, 2014).  With the dramatic rise in UAC, there has been increased pressure to get UACs out of shelters and into placement with family members as quickly as possible.  The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has stated that they do a home study for only certain categories of UAC, as well as follow up visits for at-risk children (ORR, 2013). This raises concern that a number of placements are not being adequately screened for safety.  A similar practice in the 1990s resulted in Chinese immigrants being released to people officials believed were relatives, but turned out to be part of smuggling networks. The smugglers would then extort the immigrants and their families (Lind, 2014).  Although it is still too soon to know if the same thing is happening to these UACs, from 2008-2010, 95% of confirmed labor trafficking survivors in the U.S were foreign-born (Banks & Kyckelhahn, 2011).

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Adolescents & the Border Crisis, Pt. 2: Unaccompanied Minors and the Deferred Action for Childhood

Unaccompanied alien children (UACs) are currently the center of much debate across the nation.  President Obama has urged Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the influx of UACs, emphasizing the need to speed up the deportation process (Folye, 2014).  However, Congress remains divided on how to address the situation.  The crux of the debate centers around two existing policies.  The first is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order from the Obama administration that was signed in June 2012. DACA allows undocumented minors deferred deportation if they arrived before 2007 and if they meet specific criteria.  Deferment can be revoked at any time, and it does not provide lawful immigration status, a green card, or citizenship.  Instead, deferment indicates that the Department of Human Services (DHS) does not consider the child a danger to national security or public safety. 

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Adolescents & the Border Crisis, Pt.1: Unaccompanied Minors & the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

Since October, nearly 63,000 youth have been apprehended attempting to enter into the United States through the Mexican border (Park, 2014). Since 2011, the number of children from Central America attempting to enter America has doubled each year (UNHCR, 2014). These children, labeled either unaccompanied minors (UAM) or unaccompanied alien children (UAC), are coming to the U.S. primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. They are frequently coming in an attempt to escape poverty, sexual assault, violence from gangs, kidnapping, or murder. This multi-part series will explore the impact of border migration by unaccompanied children and youth on social policy in the U.S.

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Despite High Rating, U.S. has Room for Improvement

The United States Department of State released the 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report in June, 2014.  This annual report places each country into one of four tiers based on the countries’ efforts to maintain compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act: Minimum Standards for the Elimination of Trafficking in Persons.  In the 2014 TIP Report, the United States ranks on Tier 1, the highest tier possible.  While the United States has made some great advancement in the past years in responding to human trafficking, there continue to be areas of great concern.

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Legislation Aims to Address Trafficking in Supply Chains

In addition to the chocolate and make-up industries – as discussed in the April 11th blog post – many other industries make millions, if not billions, of dollars from the production of commodities using forced labor throughout the supply chain.

This June, The Guardian newspaper released an article exposing the modern-day slavery used to procure shrimp for major grocery stores in the U.S. and around the world (Hodal, Kelly & Lawrence, 2014). Shrimp is only one of many products sold cheaply to consumers at the expense of exploited and trafficked laborers. Worldwide the use of labor trafficking or forced labor results in an estimated $51 billion of profits annually (International Labor Organization, 2014).  The United States is the largest importer of goods in the world but, despite this, there is little transparency of the supply chains that major companies use to move their products from production to our shelves.

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Welcome to IOFA, Caitlin!

While completing my undergraduate degree in social work at SUNY Brockport I was fortunate to study under policy workers who promote wide scale change for the benefit of vulnerable populations as well as an expert in sex trafficking. Working with these mentors increased my awareness of human trafficking – an issue I had been vaguely aware of, but largely uninformed about.  I, like many others, had considered human trafficking to be an international issue. Because of this misconception I had missed the connection between human trafficking and the large migrant farm worker population in my own hometown of Sodus, NY.

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