Human trafficking problems are worse in the Northern Mariana Islands on a per capita basis than in the entire United States, a Bush Administration official told a U.S. Senate hearing, the Marianas Variety reports.
David Cohen, deputy assistant secretary of the interior and the administration's lead official for insular affairs, said yesterday in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that "human trafficking is between 8.8 and 10.6 times more prevalent in the CNMI than it is in the U.S. as a whole. This is a conservative calculation that most likely makes the CNMI look better than it actually is.”
Cohen was testifying in support of a Senate measure that would impose U.S. federal control of Northern Marianas immigration.
In his testimony, Cohen noted that 36 female victims of human trafficking in the Northern Marianas were identified by Guma Esperansa, a women’s shelter operated by a Catholic non-profit organization, during the 12-month period through the end of April. The women were brought to Saipan to participate in the sex trade, he said.
Cohen noted that compared with the U.S. State Department estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked into the U.S. each year for all purposes, including labor. The Northern Marianas population is 70,000 compared with a U.S. population of 300 million.