The U.S. declared war on human trafficking nearly a decade ago. With a new law and much fanfare, the government pledged to end abuses at home and prodded the rest of the world to follow its example. An investigation by The Kansas City Star found that, in spite of all the rhetoric from the Bush and Obama administrations, the U.S. is failing to find and help tens of thousands of human trafficking victims.
The Star found that the government is doing little to stop the flow of trafficking along the porous U.S.-Mexico border and that when victims are identified, many are denied assistance. The U.S. has violated its own policies by deporting countless victims who should be offered sanctuary, but sometimes end up back in the hands of traffickers. After spending millions of taxpayer dollars, the nation appears to be losing the war in its own backyard. Even some top federal anti-trafficking authorities in the Bush and Obama administrations acknowledged serious problems. “The current system is not yet picking up all the victims of human trafficking crimes,” said Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.