Monday, December 08, 2008

Success in Stopping Immigrant Trafficking includes Multilingualism

The plan for stopping human trafficking of immigrants is not working in Las Vegas, even as the Bush Administration has given a million dollars in two years to the police and a faith-based non-profit to understand trafficking and to locate immigrant slaves. Despite the positive incentive of "T" visas to live in the US, only 1,300 such visas have been issued to immigrants nationwide.

Those close to the Vegas project maintain that federal money is poorly spent on a task force model instead of on the skills of people who speak the immigrants' languages and understand immigrant communities.

That laws are pursued to prohibit the speaking of any language other than English in government services in a time when victims of human trafficking are not being protected because of failure of local governments to mobilize federal resources toward immigrant languages is disturbing. In such a context, English Only laws are not only counterintuitive, but they have the potential for great harm and neglect.

The Bush Administration's hands-off approach (and perhaps its uncritical faith in faith-based organizations) hasn't helped insure the money was spent wisely.  And finally, I wonder how much recent ICE raids (including one that may have discouraged hurricane evacuation) might dampen immigrant slaves' willingness to risk applying for a protective visa lest it lead to an ICE sting.

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