With little public notice, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, recently released a breakdown of 14 years of human trafficking visas in a fact sheet. of information.
T visas, created in 2000 when Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Abuse Protection Act, are only available to victims of human trafficking and require the applicant to be in the United States. or at a point of entry “due to” trafficking. Visa applicants are also required to assist in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. (There is also another type of visa, the U visa, for victims of serious crime who assist law enforcement.)
“This report was created as a tool for the general public to understand and recognize the characteristics of T visa applicants and was released in January 2022 as part of USCIS’s commitment to support and protect victims of human trafficking and other serious crimes,” said Anita Rios. Moore, spokesperson for USCIS, in a statement to the Fact Checker.
We are posting a few highlights to draw attention to the new data. We have already noted the lack of reliable data on sex trafficking – and how the available figures indicate that many politicians rely on exaggerated numbers.
Trump, for example, had – without any evidence – claimed in his 2019 State of the Union address that “thousands of young girls and women” were smuggled between ports of entry and sold “at prostitution and modern slavery”.
It is important to remember that most foreign nationals who are trafficked pass through legal ports of entry. Data collected by the United Nations International Organization for Migration, analyzing 10 years of information on more than 90,000 victims, revealed that 79% of international trafficking journeys “go through official border points, such as airports and land border control points. The IOM said that “about a third of official border points are crossed by bus, another third by train and 20% by air”.
From fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2021, people born in six countries accounted for 71% of T visas, USCIS revealed in the fact sheet. As expected, the Philippines was first with 22%, followed by Mexico (20%), India (9%), Honduras (9%), Guatemala (7%) and Thailand (7%).
These numbers represent both T-visas and T-derivative visas. Moore said that if only visas issued to victims were counted, the order of the top six countries would be slightly different: Mexico, the Philippines, Honduras, India, Guatemala and Thailand.
By law, no more than 5,000 primary T visas can be granted in a tax year, but there is no cap for derivative family members. (About 59% of derivative visas are for children.)
The first headline of the fact sheet says “USCIS has received over 25,000 T visa applications and has approved over 17,000”, but you have to read the document carefully to know that the total number of victims who received visas during the 14 year period was only 8,550, for both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The other 8,860 visas were for derivative family members.
Only 16%, or 1,368 people, of the top 8,550 visa applicants completed Supplement B. Of this group, 74% indicated that labor trafficking was the form of trafficking while 39% indicated sex trafficking; only 8.6% – 120 people – said they had been victims of sex trafficking as minors. Some Supplement B forms included both labor and sex trafficking, so the total adds up to more than 100%.
These percentages suggest that labor trafficking is a bigger problem than sex trafficking. However, the number of visas granted to victims of human trafficking is relatively low — an average of around 600 per year. This is well below the annual cap of 5,000.
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