Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Slavery in the 21st Century and in New York: What Has the State's Legislature Done?

Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Slavery in the 21st Century and in New York: What Has the State's Legislature Done?

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION **

At this very moment, a young Mexican girl, who was promised a job or marriage, could be coming to New York, only to be forced into dehumanizing prostitution. At this very moment, a migrant farm worker could be toiling away in a labor camp in some rural location in New York, forced to work, held against his will, and living on a pittance. At this very moment, a married couple could be bringing a group of Peruvians to New York, promising them a better future, only to confiscate their passports on arrival and force them to endure grueling labor in a sweatshop under inhumane conditions.

These stories are real-life examples of horrendous human trafficking acts that have occurred and continue to occur in New York State. (1) These degrading human rights violations are a form of modern day slavery, and they are alive and well in the United States, particularly in New York. (2) Currently, unlike other states, New York does not have an anti-trafficking statute that mandates criminal repercussions for traffickers. Several anti-trafficking bills have been proposed, but most have died on the Assembly or Senate floor. (3) The present anti-trafficking proposal was introduced in January of 2007, and it is currently being examined by both houses of the State's legislature. (4)

This Note examines the current proposed anti-trafficking statute and other past statutory proposals that have come from the New York State legislature. It assesses their strengths and weaknesses, particularly in comparison with anti-trafficking laws in other states. It offers ways in which to develop a more effective law which will aid in the rehabilitation of the trafficking victims, as well as ways to develop a more effective law enforcement body which will aid in the capture of the traffickers.

Part II of this Note provides an overview of human trafficking with a particular focus on the crisis in New York. Part III considers the anti-trafficking legislation at the federal as well as the state level, and examines the particular importance of specific state-mandated anti-trafficking statutes. Part IV examines the proposed New York State anti-trafficking legislation by analyzing its strengths and weaknesses, while recommending improvements to the proposed legislation. Part V concludes with recommendations for measures that New York State can take with regards to establishing a more comprehensive community approach in combating human trafficking.

II. HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN NEW YORK

Human trafficking is the criminal commercial exchange of human beings, who are subjected to involuntary acts, such as sexual exploitation or forced labor. (5) Trafficking involves a process of using physical force, fraud, deception, or other forms of coercion or intimidation to obtain, recruit, harbor, and transport people. (6) This involuntary servitude is described as a "form of modern-day slavery." (7) Victims include "young children, teenagers, men and women." (8) The most widespread form of human trafficking involves involuntary sexual servitude, which includes forcing trafficking victims into prostitution. (9) Human trafficking is different from unlawful immigration or smuggling in that it involves physical force, intimidation, fraud, and deception, all of which are used by traffickers to exploit the status of undocumented aliens. (10)

Human trafficking is a very profitable form of organized crime. (11) It is the most profitable form of illegal trade worldwide, second to the trafficking of arms and drugs. (12) Criminal groups make more than nine billion dollars in annual revenue globally from the trafficking of human beings. (13) Furthermore, it is estimated that 800,000 to 900,000 people are trafficked each year across international borders. (14) The federal government estimates that nearly 18,000 persons are trafficked annually into the United States. (15) International trafficking victims have been identified in twenty states, with the majority located in Florida, California, and New York. …

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