us law should not be a tool for international criminals

I mentioned my evolving views on the subject of legalizing prostitution a little while ago, my main misgiving being that legalization does not appear (at least in the cases examined) to do a great deal towards preventing human trafficking, and in fact may make it worse.

This recent series on the subject of human trafficking by WGBH is well worth your time. I listened to the last installment this morning, that summarized what can be done to combat this problem. I found some of their recommendations more satisfying than others, but most glaring to me was the policy recommendation that they didn't make, at least not explicitly:

Blanket, permanent immigration amnesty for suspected victims of human trafficking.

And yes, I do mean "suspected"--more specifically, that the crime of trafficking need not be "proven" in a legal sense (that no one need be convicted for it) for the victims to qualify for amnesty.

One of the greatest weapons traffickers have against their victims in the US is fear of running afoul of US authorities, of being deported and/or imprisoned, and --importantly--of being permanently banned from the US. This is a tremendous disincentive for trafficking victims to come forward. In effect, the traffickers are using US immigration law against their victims.

One might argue that putting such a broad amnesty in place creates a back door to immigration, that the system will be ripe for abuse. Perhaps. But personally, I am a great deal less concerned about someone getting into the US on a false pretense of being a victim of trafficking than I am about the trafficking happening under our noses going unpunished.


Bike Bubba said...

Hmmmm....I'd think we'd agree that both of us would agree to harsh punishment of the pimps.

Regarding amnesty for the "working girls," I'm (a) wondering if a lot of judges and lawyers aren't working that already and (b) if you made it officially part of the law, would we be hanging out a "welcome" banner for every morally challenged young lady in the world to find a "pimp", turn a couple of tricks, and ask for a few bruises in exchange for her green card. You'd at least have to be very careful about the standard of proof.

Brian said...

If your standard is proof of trafficking, then you might as well leave it as it is, because human trafficking is a very, very difficult crime to prosecute.

I care less about prosecuting traffickers than I do helping their victims. And I don't care about prosecuting prostitutes (willing or otherwise) at all.

Bike Bubba said...

One could say that is someone is brutalized in prostitution after coming here, then you simply don't put them on the "never again" list. No? Injuries from brutalization and a vice arrest seem to be fairly straightforward to demonstrate compared to trafficking.

My take on trafficking is that at some point, due to its brutality, you've got to do the hard work of prosecuting the perpetrators, just like the FBI had to do the hard work to crack at least the more careless elements of the Mob.

The big trouble I've got with your plan is that it seems to create incentives that would make prostitution seem normal (the "morally challenged illegal" example), and thus it would be even more difficult to ferret out the real skunks. It could make things worse for the women being victimized, because their abuse would be hidden under a "wink and a nod, she's faking being an abused hooker to get her green card" perception.

Brian said...

How about we try it and see how it goes? Because what we are doing now is an abysmal failure of humanity.

You can argue counterfactuals all day long. So what? You're essentially worrying about a hypothetical thing that may or may not prove to matter in the grand scheme of things. I'm trying to solve a problem that we have.

Bike Bubba said...

"Trying to solve a problem" doesn't negate moral hazards, and your proposal clearly establishes one. The question is simply how nasty it will be, and if the history of AFDC is indicative, it's got a lot of "potential" in this regard.

Brian said...

Ah, moral hazard: the conservative's clarion call to inaction.

Of all the reasons I am not a conservative, that has to be in the top three. It enables you to sound kind of smart while arguing exactly nothing.

Bike Bubba said...

Hippocrates, dude. First, do no harm.

The apparent inability to heed moral hazard is one of the big reasons I can't align with the left.

Except, of course, with thinking liberals like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was one of the first people to recognize the moral hazard of AFDC--which IMO ended up doing more to hurt the black family than slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK combined.