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Hilton Hotels bans all on-demand in-room porn videos
Travelers with a penchant for porn videos will have to look elsewhere than their Hilton Hotel room television. The hotel chain recently announced that it is removing all on-demand porn videos from every one of its worldwide properties. The news of the move, which arrived by email today from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE
) said that the organization was grateful to Hilton for this decision and to no longer profit from hardcore porn. Of course this is also a positive move for families who want to protect children from hitting the wrong button on the TV. “We want to publicly thank Hilton for its decision to create a safe and positive environment for all of its customers,” said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of NCOSE. “Hilton has taken a stand against sexual exploitation. Pornography not only contributes to the demand for sex trafficking, which is a serious concern in hotels, but it also contributes to child exploitation, sexual violence, and lifelong porn addictions. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation applauds Hilton Hotels for recognizing these harms, and is glad to announce that Hilton Hotels will be removed from the Dirty Dozen List.”
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Recently, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report regarding the care of unaccompanied migrant children by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The GAO report entitled Unaccompanied Alien Children: Actions Needed to Ensure Children Receive Required Care in DHS Custody, found that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have not consistently screened unaccompanied Mexican children in their custody for trafficking. Mexican unaccompanied migrant children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation as they are often recruited to be drugmules or are fleeing gang recruitment or intimidation. As such, the screening at the U.S./Mexico border is extremely important. The lack of consistent trafficking screening of Mexican unaccompanied migrant children raises concern about the prevalence of trafficking in this population and signals a need for reform.
(Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)
As reported last year on HTS, unaccompanied migrant children face one of two processes when they arrive in the custody of the US government. Which process an unaccompanied migrant child receives depends on the child’s country of origin. Unaccompanied children from countries other than Mexico or Canada who are apprehended at the border are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to be either reunited with family members in the United States or placed in foster care while waiting to appear at an immigration hearing and consult with an advocate. These protections increase the likelihood that authorities would discover a child’s viable claim to asylum, as a trafficking victim, or other form of immigration relief.
In contrast, unaccompanied migrant children from countries contiguous to the United States, Mexico or Canada, are only entitled to minimal protections. Per the requirements of theTrafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), immediately after being apprehended, a child from Mexico or Canada is given a simple screening by a Border Patrol agent to determine whether they are at risk of severe form of human trafficking or have a fear of return, and that they are capable of making decisions. The child may be sent back to their home country on the same day he or she was apprehended and must be returned within 48 hours if no evidence of trafficking or fear of return or incapacity has been found. This short and immediate screening conducted by CBP is not enough and endangers unaccompanied Mexican migrant children who are vulnerable to human trafficking.
The GAO report highlights that CBP officers are not child protection and human trafficking experts but law enforcement officers. Border Patrol officers do not have the expertise to fully and appropriately screen children for human trafficking and need assistance in doing so. Inconsistent screening results in misidentification of child trafficking victims as was recently experienced by a group of girls from Mexico who were caught and repatriated by U.S. immigration forces multiple times before they were later discovered by U.S. police as victims of a sex trafficking ring. CBP had repeatedly failed to identify these girls as victims being transported by their traffickers. In short, they were ill-equipped to prevent and respond to child trafficking.
In a positive first step, the new GAO report recommends improved human trafficking screening for Mexican unaccompanied migrant children. The report instructs DHS to revise the form that is used to screen Mexican unaccompanied children, to implement better training for officers, and to make the officers better document their findings. With intergovernmental investigative efforts like the GAO Report calling for reform, there is hope that CBP will reform its trafficking screening practices and will work to better ensure the prevention of future incidents of child trafficking at the U.S./Mexico border and will better identify and protect Mexican migrant child trafficking victims.
Ashley Feasley is a Migration Policy Advisor at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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Human trafficking generates extensive national interest and media coverage in the United States, but that attention often focuses solely on sex trafficking. In addition to incidents of sex trafficking, there are also cases of labor trafficking and labor exploitation that happen every day in the United States. U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, and children can be victims of labor trafficking. Immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and a lack of strong labor protections are some of the vulnerabilities that lead to labor trafficking in the United States. Given the diversity of environments that labor trafficking can occur within the United States, it is important to understand more about labor trafficking and who is particularly vulnerable.
Xue Sun, a manicurist who uses the name Michelle, in the Flushing, Queens, apartment she shared with her cousin, Jing Ren, and four other people. Curtains separate the beds.
(Photo Credit: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times)
In 2014, the Urban Institute issued a ground-breaking report on labor trafficking in the United States. The report, Hidden in Plain Sight, identified some important factors among labor trafficking cases in the U.S., such as the high likelihood of recruitment fees and smuggling costs that workers had to pay to even be considered for jobs in the United States. Additionally, the report found that a high number of foreign national labor trafficking victims were brought to the United States through legal immigration means such as guest worker visa programs.
In the U.S., labor trafficking is most prevalent in domestic work, agriculture, the hospitality and construction industry. It has also been reported to occur in door-to-door sales crews, health services and carnivals.
Domestic work in the United States represents the industry with the most identified labor trafficking victims. Domestic work generally refers to workers, primarily women, who are employed in child care, elder care, or domestic service in private residences and nursing homes. These workers are highly susceptible to labor exploitation due to the isolated nature of their work, their living situations which often include living and working in the same location, and their dependence on their employers. Recent high profile cases of domestic workers exploitation in the United States involved foreign diplomatic families living in the U.S. The struggles that domestic workers face in the United States to receive fair wages and humane treatment illustrate the vulnerability that migrant domestic workers experience worldwide.
Labor exploitation occurs in American agricultural communities. With large agricultural companies dependent on seasonal labor to harvest crops, there are many work employment opportunities for migrant workers in the U.S. agricultural system but also opportunities for exploitation. A 2013 National Institute of Justice study examining labor trafficking among North Carolina migrant farm workers found that at least 25% of workers experienced labor trafficking and approximately 39% experienced other abuse such as restrictions of physical liberty, passport confiscation, threats and verbal abuse.
Some victims of labor exploitation in the United States work in other service-based industries, such nail salons. As manicures and pedicures have become a more common beauty activity, the growth of the number of nail salons in the United States has mushroomed, and along with it the demand for low cost labor. The New York Times recently discovered that some nail salons in the New York area pay as little as $60/day starting rate for nail technicians to work in their salons for 10-12 hours a day. The nail salons utilize mostly foreign national women, including immigrants from Korea, Tibet, Nepal, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. These women endure long hours, little or no pay, and frequently also must pay the nail salon owner to “train” in the first few months of service.
When talking about human trafficking in the United States, it is important that we include discussions about labor trafficking and exploitation and remember that labor trafficking victims toil every day in our fields, caring for children and elderly, and in our service industries. Labor trafficking does occur in the United States and can be prevented.
Ashley Feasley is the Director of Advocacy at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, CLINIC.
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Court issues arrest warrants for 68 more human traffickers
A wider net is tightening around more modern-day slavers as a Thai court issued arrest warrants for 68 more suspected human traffickers in southern Thailand last week, in addition to 72 indictments already handed down against an army general, rogue police officers, local politicians and organized criminals implicated in people smuggling syndicates.
The suspects are believed to be part of syndicates that smuggled migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, including Rohingya Muslims, into virtual prison camps and forced labor in the fishing, seafood and other industries. Mass graves and abandoned camps where migrants had been held against their will were discovered near the border with Malaysia in March, triggering the first wave of arrests. Some more graves and camps were also found inside Malaysia by authorities in that country.
The new round of arrest warrants clearly demonstrate that the Thai authorities are sustaining their war on trafficking and, contrary to warnings by some anti-trafficking and human rights groups, have not eased up or become complacent. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made putting an end to trafficking a top national priority.
Although the new arrests warrants were issued by the provincial court in southern Songkhla province, the cases will be tried in the newly established special division of the Criminal Court in Bangkok devoted solely to human trafficking crimes. The division was founded to ensure that justice will be swift in trafficking cases, and that cases will be handled and heard by prosecutors and judges with the necessary experience and expertise.
Of the new warrants, 26 are for suspects who have been accused of direct involvement in trafficking, while the remaining 42 are for those alleged to have laundered money from trafficking gangs or aided and abetted them in other ways. The Anti-Money Laundering Office has been assisting in the investigations, and has frozen nearly $6 million in assets belonging to the newly accused.
In addition, a total of five government agencies allied in the fight against trafficking signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week to facilitate greater cooperation and coordination in their efforts. Among the key advancements they will implement is the sharing of a database on human trafficking criminals and suspects, to prevent wrongdoers from slipping through the cracks.
The agencies that signed the agreement were the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Attorney-General, the Criminal Court, Justice Ministry and Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
Police further north also arrested traffickers last week. Officers arrested two men in a Bangkok suburb for allegedly luring young Lao women, aged between 14 and 22, into forced prostitution with false promises of waitressing jobs.
For more information and updates about Thailand’s policies and actions against trafficking in persons and related issues, visit www.thaianti-humantraffickingaction.org
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