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     News: NY State Wants to Make Human Trafficking a Felony

    Human TraffickingFilipino Reporter, News Report,
    May 30, 2005

    ALBANY, N.Y. — Last March, a Filipino-American Wisconsin couple — both physicians — was indicted for human trafficking for holding a Filipina as a domestic servant in their home for 19 years by threatening her with deportation, imprisonment and physical restraint.

    Last fall, a 60-year-old Filipino woman in California won an $825,000 lawsuit after claiming she was enslaved and assaulted, working 18 hours a day, and sleeping in a dog bed.

    And last month, federal agents broke up a prostitution ring in Brooklyn exploiting Asian girls.

    They are among as many as 20,000 immigrants smuggled into the U.S. each year headed toward possible slavery or prostitution often through the major ports of New York, California and Florida, according to federal officials and a study by Florida State University.

    New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer with powerful majority sponsors in the State Assembly and Senate wants to make the act of human trafficking a felony, as well as give prosecutors tougher and more effective laws than the current statutes used, including kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment. The law also provides a way for victims to recover payments for their physical, psychological and financial pain.

    “We can’t allow the American dream to be turned into a nightmare of exploitation and abuse,” Spitzer said. The Democratic candidate for governor called the crime a “shocking problem.”

    A bill that would provide needed enforcement tools for the growing crime could be acted on before the legislative session is scheduled to end June 23, according to Spitzer spokesman Paul Larrabee.

    “The trafficking of human life must not exist in a civil society,” said Republican Sen. Dale Volker of Erie County, a leading law-and-order advocate in the Legislature who is cosponsoring the measures.

    “After drugs and arms, the trafficking of women and children are the largest source of profit for organized crime,” said Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Lentol of Brooklyn. Several crime victims’ groups have backed the proposal.

    “The problem of human trafficking has been escalating in the past few years,” said Susan Xenarios of the Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims. “Service providers around the state see the enormous economic and human costs associated with this heinous act.”

    New York would join several states since 2003 that made separate felonies of human trafficking. Washington State started with felonies and the ability of victims to be compensated. Texas, Florida and Missouri have adopted anti-trafficking laws. The Kansas governor signed a similar measure last Friday. Connecticut and Washington have created commissions to study the issue.

    The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed in 2000 and since then Congress and the Bush Administration have proposed several measures to bolster it.

    Origionally published New California Media

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