Immigrant status in the US has a strong correlation to Human Trafficking both sex and labor trafficking. People from other countries get lured by traffickers with false promises of legal status and a better life in the US. Instead, Traffickers force them into domestic servitude, sex work, farm, and factory labor. By using the fact that they are illegal in the United States as their leverage, Traffickers hold power over them for free labor. Not only that, they are dependent on the Trafficker as they have no legal way to gain employment. The threat of deportation, criminal charges and ending up in an ICE Facility hinder women from seeking help.
Once an immigrant is in the US trapped in free labor or sex work, they are stuck. While they may have been naive to believe a Trafficker would help them gain legal status, they do not deserve to become victims of Human Trafficking. The next challenge is freedom from their Trafficker and how that can be an option. The obvious answer, begin the process of legal immigration, but where do they go?
Immigration Lawyers Can Help
Based on personal circumstances, immigration is a specific process. Everyone’s situation is different and the laws around immigration change on a regular basis. Using a professional can help navigate the nuances of immigration. For example, in the year 2000 the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act passed and allows victims of Domestic Violence to obtain temporary Visa’s called the T-visa. They can then apply for citizenship after year three. The cost for Immigration Lawyers varies greatly but depending on the type of immigration needed, generally, costs are between $500 to $12,000. Costs increase dramatically if the person is threatened with deportation or has had a criminal conviction.
As immigrant status in the US contributes to sex and labor trafficking in California, we began creating accessible immigration services. We are are well suited as our crisis lines field calls from victims of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. We heard the call and responded.
Our Legal Team becomes a Resource
YWCA-MC has started the groundwork to support immigrants who have been victims of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence by becoming experts on Visa types and application processes. Our legal team began focusing on the three types that are accessible to clients we work with, U/T/VAWA. We plan to roll the program out to those in need at a lower cost than a traditional law office.
As our effort towards inclusion, equity and justice continue, we are excited to bring immigration into the fold. We will provide frequent updates as the program takes shape.
If you would like to support the YWCA-MC in our efforts, please consider donating. Your donation will improve the lives of women in Monterey County.