Thursday, December 11, 2003 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
Everyone in Arizona knows about the illegal immigrants being smuggled into our state. Many of these people pay huge amounts of money to ‘runners’ to get them into our country as they seek a better way of life.
But did you know that Arizona is also a hub for human trafficking, people kidnapped in their own country and smuggled into the US against their will and made to work in our country in massage parlors, restaurants, factories, fields, as nannies, maids, or prostitutes, for as little as $30.00 a week and forced to pay their captors never ending fees reaching thousands of dollars to earn their freedom? It seems slavery still exists.
Traffickers recruit in countries where woman and children are still considered property, or there is an unequal status for women as compared to men. Victims are either kidnapped, sold, or promised good jobs or marriage by recruiters. When they reach this country, they suffer under inhumane conditions and are forced to work in order to pay back exurbanite recruiting fees and travel fees with interest rates as high as 50%.
Because of Arizona’s proximity to the Mexican boarder, our state is used as an entrance point for traffickers. Their human cargo is then shuttled to large cities across the US.
The Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking (ALERT) has been formed by local police and volunteers with the help of a one million dollar federal grant to fight the problem of human trafficking. ALERT will try to provide a way out by publishing a phone number that victims can call to obtain help. However, this is a sizable challenge.
ALERT’s hotline number is: 1-877-76ALERT.
©2003 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre
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