By Barb Barrett, Staff Writer Published: Jul 23, 2007 03:37 PM
Modified: Jul 23, 2007 03:36 PM
The News and Observer
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families will announce a program Tuesday that hopes to educate agencies and individuals about human trafficking in North Carolina and across the country.
The federal department estimates that 14,500-17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year.
Several high-profile cases have come up in North Carolina in recent years, including a sex ring in the Triangle and a legal suit filed by 22 Thai farm workers fromJohnston County earlier this year.
The federal program comes alongside an ongoing statewide coalition that has been working several years to train social services and law enforcement agencies about how to identify and help trafficking victims.
"It's so hidden right now, and people are afraid to come forward and, often, don't have the capacity to come forward," said Kaci Bishop, an immigration attorney with the N.C. Justice Center who will be at Tuesday's news conference in Raleigh.
Human trafficking often follows drug trafficking corridors, Bishop said. "We're right on the I-95 corridor."
She said coalition members suspect a lot of trafficking among farm workers, and that advocates suspect women are forced into the commercial sex trade to service both migrant workers and men on the Interstate 95 corridor.
The General Assembly is considering legislation sponsored by Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Carrboro to make human trafficking a state offense as well as a federal offense.
The federal government's program, called Rescue & Restore, involves a network of 21 cities and states fighting human trafficking