Massachusetts Introduces Anti-Human Trafficking and Victim Protection Act

IRLI In The News

November 12, 2010

October 2010 — Numerous states have joined the federal government in supplementing its efforts to combat human trafficking. As of May 2010, 23 states had passed human trafficking bills during the 2010 legislative sessions.Title 22 Section 7102(8) of the United States Code defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.” Human trafficking is similar to modern-day slavery.

In most instances of human trafficking, illegal immigrants pay traffickers to illegally transport them into the United States but end up in situations of forced labor, prostitution or other commercial services. Congress reported approximately 50,000 women and children are illegally trafficking into the United States each year. 22 U.S.C. § 7101(b)(1).

Since 2000 there have been four federal laws enacted attempting to control human trafficking. These include: The Trafficking Victims Prevention Act (TVPA) 2000, The Trafficking Victims Prevention Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) 2003, The Trafficking Victims Prevention Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) 2005, and William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.

Most recently, Massachusetts SB 2589 (formally S58), introduced by Senator Montigny (D-New Bedford) has passed the Senate and been sent to the House. SB 2589 had its second reading on October 4, 2010 and has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The Massachusetts measure, entitled “The Anti-Human Trafficking and Victim Protection Act of 2010,” punishes any person who intentionally “entices, harbors, transports or delivers another, with the intent that the person be subjected to forced labor or services” as well as anyone who directly or indirectly benefits from human trafficking. This crime of “trafficking of persons for forced labor or services” is punishable by a maximum 25 years in state prison and maximum fine of $2,000. Imprisonment is increased to a maximum 35 years for services involving sex. Additionally, if the victim of the human trafficking is a child, an additional maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison may be imposed.

A business entity that knowingly aids or participates in human trafficking is also subject to loss of the business, dissolution or reorganization, or surrender or revocation of its certificate to conduct business in Massachusetts. It is interesting that while these sanctions resemble those imposed by state cooperative immigration reform statutes, including recent state laws that mirror federal alien smuggling offenses under 8 U.S.C. 1324, the trafficking sanctions do not appear to have yet provoked any of the federal preemption concerns associated by critics with those anti-smuggling measures.

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