Human trafficking is proof that illegal migration is not a victimless crime


September 28, 2023

By Jason Hopkins

After the movie “Sound of Freedom” put human trafficking in the spotlight this year, a recent case in central California shows how the Biden administration’s open borders policies have made the problem worse.

While serving a search warrant, Merced County Sheriff’s deputies uncovered thousands of pounds of finished-product marijuana – all of it illegally sourced and processed.

It was one of the largest illegal marijuana processing sites they’ve ever encountered.

The 60 people discovered working on the product were allegedly victims of human trafficking, smuggled across the U.S.- Mexico border and forced to live in squalor while working to pay off their debt to the cartel that snuck them into the U.S.

“The tragedy on this — besides the illegal growing of it and processing — is the fact that there are 60 people here that have been promised jobs. Brought across the border on the promise of making money each day,” Sheriff Vern Warnke said of the discovery.

“These folks are indentured,” he went on. “They owe money and yet here we are at an illegal processing center and they are scared to death.” 

Historically, an indenture was a contract between an employer who paid an individual’s passage to the colonies and an employee who agreed to work without salary to pay off the passage. Indentures were a means of obtaining cheap labor and were widely perceived as being exploitative. The 13th Amendment outlawed indentured servitude in the United States.

One of the human trafficking victims included a juvenile who was reportedly released back to his or her parents after Child Protective Services was contacted.

The real tragedy of this story is that it’s just the latest incident of human trafficking taking place within the U.S. – a sordid exploitation of people that is dramatically facilitated by the Biden administration’s loose border policies. Team Biden’s lawless approach to immigration enforcement merely enables and emboldens the cartels and other criminal groups involved in alien smuggling and trafficking.

Team Biden’s lawless approach to immigration enforcement merely enables and emboldens the cartels and other criminal groups involved in alien smuggling and trafficking.

In fact, the U.S. is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking. According to the DeliverFund, a nonprofit that uses intelligence technology to assist law enforcement, approximately 199,000 incidents of human trafficking occur annually, and statistics indicate that the problem is only getting worse.

Nearly 2,200 people were referred to U.S. attorneys for human trafficking offenses in FY2020, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. This marked a 62 percent increase from the statistics released in 2011. The number of people prosecuted for human trafficking increased a whopping 84 percent during this same time span, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The number of people convicted also increased.

As the New York Times described it, migrant smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border in the past decade began as a “scattered network” of freelance coyotes and has since transformed into a multi-billion-dollar international business that is run in large part by some of Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartels. This description makes sense, given illegal immigration exploded under the Obama administration and has morphed into a full-blown crisis since Joe Biden took office.

In FY2021, Biden earned the distinction of presiding over the largest number of illegal border crossings in the nation’s history at roughly 1.7 million encounters (not even counting the 389,000 gotaways, that is, those who were detected but not apprehend). Not to be outdone so early in his first term, his administration smashed this record yet again in FY2022 – by more than one million – with roughly 2.76 million illegal border encounters and more than 600,000 gotaways.

While there is a slate of theories as to why so many foreign nationals are choosing to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border at this time, one primary cause remains irrefutable – many foreigners believe that our southern border is open. When questioned by reporters on the ground, many of these illegal aliens have said just as much.

“It’s open, not closed,” a recently arrived illegal migrant from Venezuela told Fox News in 2022. “The border is open.” He continued: “We come in, free, no problem.”

The Biden administration has attempted to quash this narrative by stating publicly that the border is closed. However, the message sent by Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has been something other than “the border is closed.” It immediately ended President Donald Trump’s border wall project and attempted a 100-day moratorium on deportations, before a federal appeals court shut that plan down. And it has enacted an array of other anti-enforcement policies from re-implementing catch-and-release to rolling out an app that allows illegal aliens to schedule their entry into the United States.

But having a secure border does more than prevent illegal immigration. It prevents the gruesome and illegal working conditions just witnessed in Merced County, and the tragedy in San Antonio, Texas, where 53 trafficking victims were abandoned by their coyote to bake to death inside a sweltering tractor trailer.

A secure border protects the most vulnerable of immigrants – trafficking victims, particularly the women and children who are deliberately targeted by sex traffickers and criminal cartels seeking the modern equivalent of indentured servants.

Jason Hopkins serves as Investigations Manager at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Also published at American Thinker, September 28, 2023.

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.