Human Traffic Watch

Memo to a Dead President: Slavery Still Exists

In Awareness, Human Trafficking on September 29, 2012 at 8:55 am

September 22nd marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in Confederate states during the Civil War. Slavery, however, still exists in the U.S. In fact there has never been a day in American history without it. If Lincoln were still president today, this is what I would tell him about how to achieve real, not just legal, abolition.

MEMO: Progressing to a Slave-Free America
TO: POTUS (Lincoln)
FROM: Dr. Kevin Bales, Co-founder, Free the Slaves

1. Congratulations. Firstly, Sir, thank you for your Emancipation Proclamation. It led the way to outlawing slavery nationwide through the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and it created a context in which a slave-free America is possible. The complete eradication of slavery from the United States will be a fitting tribute to your leadership and sacrifice, and the realization of the core American value of human freedom. This memo proposes ways to finish what you have started.

2. Prevalence of Slavery Today. As a hidden crime invisible to most statisticians, estimates of current U.S. slavery are imprecise. Conservative estimation suggests 40,000 to 100,000 slaves in the U.S. today (.00033 of population). Key areas of modern enslavement are commercial sexual exploitation, agricultural work, domestic service, restaurant and hotel work, and small-scale manufacturing. Traffickers and slaveholders are strongly linked to other criminal enterprises. Victims are both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. Victims are also likely to be young and economically productive, tricked into slavery because their desire for gainful employment prompted them to trust someone offering a job. Federal trafficking cases have been pursued in all 50 states. Most occur in urban areas with international transit links.

3. Political Implications. Ending slavery in America is backed by strong bipartisan agreement and commitment. Ideological motivations differ, but there is robust concurrence on the desired outcome. No one argues that slavery is allowable or necessary today.

4. Budget Implications. Current federal expenditures on reducing the criminal activity of slavery and human trafficking are less than that devoted to military bands within the Defense Department. The estimated cost of global slavery eradication over 25 years totals $11 billion (one-half the yearly cost of the War on Drugs). More detailed estimates will be needed, but a slave-free America should cost no more than $1.2 billion over a 5-10 year period.

5. Economic Stimulus Outcomes. Immediate stimulus will result from nationwide eradication. Since slavery is a drag on the economy, increased productivity and consumer consumption by freed slaves – along with a reduced need for law enforcement expenditures — will foster economic growth. Tax revenues from freed slaves will benefit governments at all levels.

6. Program Components and Steps to a Slave-Free America.

a. National Plan for Eradication of Slavery – Ten years ago the government of Brazil initiated its national slavery eradication plan. It brought together all relevant agencies, law enforcement and non-governmental organizations. It unified and resourced legal responses to slavery. Their first year (2003) results were 4,789 slaves freed. A unified plan and model should be adapted and improved here in the U.S.

b. Mobile Anti-Slavery Teams – Brazilian experience also shows the value of specialist federal anti-slavery squads that include labor inspection and enforcement specialists. This matches existing FBI and Justice Department staffing profiles for drug enforcement. It can be easily adopted into current law enforcement procedures for trafficking.

c. Dramatic Need for Increased Law Enforcement Training – According to a State Department estimate, there are around 15,000 new slaves trafficked into the U.S. each year – equivalent to the 15,000 homicides committed here annually. Across all law enforcement (local, state, and federal police/agents) there are about 45,000 trained homicide specialists, but only about 200 trained anti-slavery specialists. This disparity in trained personnel results in national homicide clear-up rates of 70 to 75 percent, and slavery/trafficking clear-up rates of less than one percent. Expansion and training of enforcement personnel will be critical to success. Enhancing law enforcement’s capacity to target traffickers who pose as legitimate foreign labor recruiters will provide immediate results.

Read More/Source: Huffington Post


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