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NYATN Supports the Rights of Immigrant Families

NY Anti-Trafficking Network has released a statement supporting the rights of immigrants. We are speaking out against any plans for a repeal of DACA, which protects young people who came to the United States as children:

In this country we value opportunity. We value people who make their communities better. That is who DACA recipients are.

All young people deserve the right to pursue their dreams and live in safety. We, as advocates for survivors of human trafficking and their children, support the continuation of DACA to ensure the safety and security of the families we serve.

DACA allows trafficking victims security to come forward to access justice. It allows the vulnerable family members of trafficked people much needed protection.

Congress should move to protect DACA recipients.

  • Traffickers use immigration status to exploit workers. 56% of Dreamers report moving to jobs with better working conditions upon receiving DACA.
  • Trafficking victims will be less likely to come forward to report crimes to authorities if DACA recipients are punished. These Dreamers identified themselves voluntarily, trusting that our government would not penalize them for it.  
  • Without DACA, Dreamers will stop reporting wage theft and other crimes against them, leaving workplaces vulnerable to increased exploitation. Workers rights are always important; the contributions of immigrants of all backgrounds are what make us an innovative society.

Annie Wang, staff attorney in Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Immigrant Access to Justice program, said:

I’ve seen firsthand how this program has transformed the lives of my clients. Thanks to DACA these young people have been able to pursue higher education, find meaningful employment, help their families, and otherwise more fully contribute to our society.

Congress must promote a practical solution to stand by the values of this country and our commitment to the right to live free from exploitation. The DREAM Act and the American Hope Act are bipartisan measures, that mesh with practical policies already undertaken in many cities and towns, to ensure young people can pursue their dreams.

Tell your member of Congress to vote to protect Dreamers.  

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Special Rapporteur on Trafficking Critiques U.S. Approach to Arrests

NYATN worked with the U.S. Human Rights Network and other anti-trafficking organizations, as well as sex workers rights groups, when the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking came to the United States in December 2016 to take a look at how our governments address human trafficking. We join the USHRN in their statement commending the Special Rapporteur on her report and noting that she could can go even further in supporting the human rights of trafficked persons.

In the statement, NYATN notes: The NY Anti-Trafficking Network applauds the Special Rapporteur for recognizing that ‘criminalisation of prostitution also contribute(s) to vulnerabilities to human trafficking’ and recognizes the need for vacatur of criminal convictions. Arrest is never an appropriate way to try to help someone who may be a trafficking survivor, as it only further drives them into vulnerable situations, creates trauma and chaos in a person’s life, and adds an additional layer of complex legal consequences to their already complicated and difficult situation.”

The Intersection of Immigration and Criminal Justice for Women, Girls, and Transgender People

Juhu Thukral of NYATN’s Steering Committee wrote a piece for the Vera Institute’s blog on gender and justice, on the dangerous intersection of the criminal justice and immigration legal systems, with particular impact on women, girls, and trans people. You can check it out here.

NYATN Statement on 2015 Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act: Calling on the NYS Senate to Pass Additional Anti-Trafficking Legislation

The NY Anti-Trafficking Network (NYATN) is the first network of anti-trafficking service providers, policy advocates, and activists in New York State. NYATN has provided direct legal and social services to several thousand survivors of human trafficking since 2002. NYATN is dedicated to ending human trafficking and to providing qualified and appropriate services that give survivors the help they want and need in reclaiming their lives.

NYATN roots our advocacy work in basic human rights principles. We are dedicated to a nuanced approach to anti-trafficking efforts that reduces reliance on the criminal justice system and instead values economic opportunity, immigration policy change, and gender equality. We stand firm in promoting dignity, self-determination, and opportunity for people of all genders and experiences.

Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (A.506/S.007)

NYATN welcomes efforts to improve New York’s current anti-trafficking law—already one of the strongest and most comprehensive in the country—particularly those efforts aimed at meeting the needs of trafficking survivors. We are extremely pleased that the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) includes a private right of action for survivors of trafficking to seek compensation and economic justice, as well as an affirmative defense for people trafficked into prostitution. We appreciate that the TVPJA streamlines access to services for survivors.

While passage of the TVPJA is an important step forward in providing for the needs of trafficking survivors, its primary focus appears to be on enhanced criminal penalties that neither prevent trafficking, nor protect victims and survivors of trafficking. In fact, some of these provisions—such as the increase in penalties for crimes involving vehicles—actually harm victims of trafficking, as it is often a driver who facilitates escape from a trafficking situation. The provisions focused on prostitution in a school zone do not address trafficking at all. In addition, the provisions adding new offenses to the sex offender registry are not designed to identify traffickers or survivors of trafficking, and they do not prevent trafficking. In fact, they cause greater harm to young people and others at risk of being trafficked. Finally, the TVPJA does not equalize treatment of trafficking into all labor sectors.

NYATN is concerned and disappointed these unnecessary and potentially harmful provisions on criminal offenses have been included in the final TVPJA. We continue to call for responses to trafficking in persons rooted in human rights and dignity for all people at risk of being trafficked.

Next Steps

We applaud Assemblyman Joseph Lentol for recognizing several service-related elements were missing from the TVPJA and addressing this in a separate bill, A.2953. The Assembly has wisely passed the Lentol bill, and we now call on the Senate to take action this coming session. We ask for immediate action on this important additional component of New York’s anti-trafficking response and urge both houses to also pass the End Criminalization of Condoms Act, which would protect those most vulnerable to trafficking into prostitution. NYATN understands that enactment of the TVPJA does not signify that we have met all of New York’s anti-trafficking legislative priorities and recognizes there is more that can be accomplished toward this goal. We look forward to working with the Assembly and Senate to continue to improve New York State’s response to this crucial human rights issue.

NYATN Testifies About Human Trafficking and Domestic Workers for NYC Council

NYATN members from Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, City Bar Justice Center, New York Asian Women’s Center, and Sex Workers Project at Urban Justice Center testified for the New York City Council on Friday, February 27, 2015 on, “Labor Trafficking in the Domestic Worker Industry – Resources for Victims in New York City (video).”

NYATN member Sex Workers Project's Crystal DeBoise (center) testifies alongside Legal Aid's Hollis Pfitsch and Catholic Migration Services's Alice Davis

NYATN member Sex Workers Project’s Crystal DeBoise (center) testifies alongside Legal Aid’s Hollis Pfitsch and Catholic Migration Services’s Alice Davis

View text of testimony of Ivy O. Suriyopas, NYATN steering member.  Suzanne Tomatore, a founder of NYATN and steering member, also provided testimony.  View full video testimony.

NYATN Advocates for a Human Rights-Based Approach for the Next Ambassador for the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office

NYATN submitted a letter in support of the appointment of a sophisticated anti-trafficking advocate who supports a human rights-based and comprehensive approach as the next Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP Office).  A response to trafficking in persons that is rooted in human rights respect the dignity and self-determination of the person who is thought to be a victim.  This means creating an environment where the person at risk is able to make his or her own decisions about the steps he or she needs to take in addressing the situation.  It also means doing the due diligence to investigate whether a situation actually involves coercion and trafficking, or not.  It is crucial that the J/TIP Office embodies our shared values of dignity, fairness, and opportunity that are central in a just society and for empowering people.

Report: Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States

A new report by the Urban Institute, “Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States,”  was just released and is only the third government-funded study on the issue of human trafficking into labor.  “This study chronicles the experiences of labor trafficking victims from the point of recruitment for work, their forced labor victimization, their attempts to escape and get help, and their efforts to seek justice through civil or criminal cases. The report finds that legal loopholes and lax enforcement enable labor traffickers to commit crimes against workers in major US industries: agriculture, domestic work, hotels, restaurants, and construction.”  Articles have shared highlights of the report, such as, “How the Crime of Labor Trafficking Helps Cities Run” and “Slave Labor in America Today,”  Read more….

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