Human trafficking is the world's fastest growing criminal enterprise. An estimated $32 billion-a-year global industry, it constitutes one of the gravest offenses against human dignity - preying upon the most vulnerable women, children, and men who are frequently tricked or coerced into preforming uncompensated work or degrading and dangerous activities.
As Pope Francis has written, “We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime.”
California is particularly vulnerable to this atrocity because of its proximity to international borders, its number of ports and airports, its significant immigrant population, and its large economy that includes industries that attract forced labor. It serves both as an entry point for slaves imported from outside the U.S. as well as a destination for slaves.
Slavery is found throughout California, but major hubs are focused in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. According to the 2011 Department of State report, California, together with New York, Texas, and Oklahoma, has the largest concentrations of survivors of human trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported receiving 3,609 calls and emails in 2015 about human trafficking in California.
Catholic women around the world have been among the most active in the fight against human trafficking. They have rescued, housed, healed, educated, and found employment for thousands of victims. They have lobbied governments and businesses tirelessly for stricter laws and stronger protections. However, more work needs to be done.
The California Catholic Conference monitors and lobbies on a number of human trafficking bills in the CA State Legislature. A number of these bills are moving through the legislative process and a few have become two year bills, which they will be taken up again next January.
Human Trafficking thrives wherever there is darkness and secrecy. Please help shine a light on this terrible practice so that awareness, assistance, and justice can bring it to an end. Visit USCCB’s Anti-trafficking resources page.