By Caden Zeigler

Today, Nov. 11th, senior Julianna Castillo proposed the bill, “A Resolution to Protect Illegal Victims of Human Trafficking,” which passed and intends to assist the victims of human trafficking with legal aid.

“There are… over 600 thousand illegal immigrants being smuggled over the border and they are not receiving the help that they probably need,” Castillo said. “So I want to shed light onto that issue.”

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, 17,000 to 19,000 immigrants are trafficked into the United States every year, many of which are “lured with false promises of good jobs and better lives, and then forced to work under brutal and inhuman conditions.”

“Trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world today,” said Castillo “victims of trafficking are exploited for purposes of commercial sex, including prostitution, stripping, pornography live-sex shows and other acts.” According to Castillo’s bill, the illegal immigrants would face no legal consequences because they were “here by force because of… sex trafficking.”

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is currently working with nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, to “identify, rescue and provide assistance to trafficking victims.” According to ICE, they more than 350 victim coordinators that work with the NGOs in order to provide an environment where victims can feel “stable and free from fear and intimidation to be effective witnesses.”

One difference between the current legislative policies and Castillo’s bill is that ICE provides short-term immigration relief to trafficking victims for one year, that can be renewed every year until the victim is no longer proven to be a potential witness. Victims are also eligible to apply for a  T and U nonimmigrant status granting them four years of residency, and can lead to possible permanent future residency.  

Castillo’s bill has already been enacted in the federal government, according to Homeland Security, the NGOs that ICE works with also “offer a variety of services to assist crime victims

such as immigration legal assistance, crisis intervention, counseling, medical care, housing, job skills training and case management,” aligning with Castillo’s bill stating that immigrants should be provided assistance with “homes, financial needs, and emotional state.”

Every point of all of Castillo’s bill has already been covered in the current laws enacted in the US, the only difference being that Castillo wishes to provide long-term citizenship immediately to these victims, not just temporary citizenship.

Castillo’s bill was passed and will continue on to the House of Representatives. “We are all human,” says Castillo, “and we all deserve the fundamental human rights.”