New Audio Available for Media Use: Human Trafficking and America’s Borders

BALTIMORE, MD, March 1, 2023 – New audio is available for media use featuring Renata Konrad. She’s an associate professor of business at the Business School of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Konrad continues our series on trafficking. She focuses on human trafficking and America’s borders. This content is provided by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. What follows are four questions and responses. These responses were provided on February 27, 2023.



Question 1: How pervasive is the human trafficking problem on America’s borders?

Time Cue: 0:23, Soundbite Duration: 1:27

“So I do want to address probably a myth that trafficking is sometimes confused with smuggling. Smuggling is when a person, typically a migrant, gives consent for procurement, for financial or other material benefits of illegal entry into a state for which that person is not a national or a resident. Some people are smuggled in into America but are not trafficked whereas some people are smuggled into the U.S. and are trafficked. Trafficking is the exploitation work that which occurs when an individual finds themselves in a vulnerable situation and they don't have access to income generation or central services and goods such as housing or food.  In terms of how pervasive is human trafficking problem on America's borders, in 2022 federal human trafficking cases, around 49 percent of cases included undocumented immigration. Forty-seven percent of federal cases the defendant had limited English proficiency, and but 70 percent had financial debt.  So, an individual entering the U.S., either through a smuggler or without a smuggler they could be very vulnerable. That is they don't have support network. They don't have a job. They don't have family. They don't have connections and they are more susceptible to trafficking.”  



Question 2: What are the factors driving this trend?

Time Cue: 1:56, Soundbite Duration: 1:05 

“Title 42 and the MPP, which is commonly referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” – are often cited as factors that are driving increases in human trafficking. Um, so before these. Before Title 42 and MPP  migrants were allowed in the United States to come and make asylum claims. And since 2020, 61 percent of encounters between law enforcement and migrants have ended up in deportations. So instead of combating human trafficking this tightened border security makes crossings more dangerous and more costly and encourages many immigrants and migrants to turn to smuggling and potentially debt. There is consent for smuggling, however, smuggling creates situations which are ripe for human trafficking, because they drive up the costs of trans-border movement, or often leaving an individual with really no choice but to become – leaving the individual more vulnerable and susceptible to trafficking.”



Question 3: What measures are being taken to stem the tide of human trafficking through America’s borders?

Time Cue: 3:06, Soundbite Duration: :27

“The department of homeland security and its agencies have been have been raising awareness for the past several years about the issue of human trafficking and currently the department is really focusing,  heavily focusing on advertising, making potential victims aware when they are in danger, what government resources are available to them to provide them with asylum or other forms of assistance.”



Question 4: What should be done going forward to better combat human trafficking at the border?

Time Cue: 03:40, Soundbite Duration: 1:14

“So, the first thing I think is it's really important to understand the difference between smuggling, which involves migrant consent and trafficking. The legal definition of human trafficking is complex, but it's typically, simple meaning is when a person is induced by fraud, force or coercion to work under total or near control of another person or an individual to pay off a loan. For example, for a smuggler or to perform a sex act for money or something else of value. The second thing that I think should be done to better combat human trafficking at the border is to recognize that this is not a problem that's restricted to border areas. Migrants and immigrants who may have even entered the country legally can be more vulnerable um to traffickers. They don't have their support systems in place, they may not have the economic security, they may not have the social security. And it's not restricted to just the border.  Potential victims are everywhere in the United States. The third point is to really put emphasis on awareness programs – not just for migrants – but for the general public, for employers, to recognize the signs of exploitation to recognize the signs of trafficking and to recognize it's a societal problem.”


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INFORMS advances and promotes the science and technology of decision making to save lives, save money, and solve problems. As the largest association for the decision and data sciences, INFORMS members support organizations and governments at all levels as they work to transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable and impactful results. INFORMS’ 10,000+ members are comprised of a diverse and robust international community of practitioners, researchers, educators, and students from a variety of fields. 



Ashley Smith


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New Audio Available for Media Use: Human Trafficking and America’s Borders

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Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator
Catonsville, MD
[email protected]

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