Recently I wrote that many times immigrants are strongly encouraged to hire an agent to help pay their way to America. This is considered debt bondage. They are told the agent will guide them and help them immigrate smoothly, and is their point of contact when they arrive stateside. The agent charges huge sums of money for the visas, medical and embassy fees, and plane fare the immigrant needs. While actual costs are around $3,000, the agent will charge the immigrant $20,000 and up. This agent, who lives in the United States, helps the immigrant obtain a work visa, job, and a place to live. However, for these services they demand half the immigrant’s paycheck until their exorbitant fees are paid, which drastically inhibits the immigrant’s ability to purchase a car and provide for his family’s needs.
As I have continued my research in human trafficking in the local area, I have found that most victims live in the same location or home as the trafficker, usually in lower-middle class to lower income areas. Rental agents and landlords want to keep their apartments filled, so the care of the apartments are not in the highest quality and they turn their head when multiple people live in the same apartment for several months. These are the exact situations many immigrants find themselves in- living in overcrowded and poorly cared-for apartments with their agent, to whom they owe a large sum of money. How does this affect the community? Let’s look at just one aspect-- the educational impact on the younger generation.
Many communities’ education is regulated by a property tax system. The immigrants that live in an area where higher income levels exist (and human trafficking does not exist) have access to dual-language and English classes for pre-school through first or second grade. These children are getting the help to develop language skills needed to be more successful. If a child has a learning disability, the special assistance staff in this school will have a better student-teacher ratio to assist the student.
But an immigrant child whose family is a victim of human trafficking typically lives in an area where property taxes are lower, and will not be as likely to find the same available educational resources. These schools do not have dual-language classrooms for non-English speaking students. If there are additional special needs, the student-teacher ratio is higher thereby decreasing the help and attention available for the child. These children are not given the same advantage that their immigrant peer receives, because of human trafficking. The children are suffering due to lack of family resources and quality of education.
These are all the children of families whose parents work the same jobs and earn the same incomes, but have access to vastly different educational opportunities. Because, in one family, a trafficker is taking half of the earned income as payment for their inflated “agent fees.” Neighborhood and home environment profoundly affects the educational and productivity of our future citizens.
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