Detroit — Foreign-born trafficking victims in Metro Detroit can now find sanctuary through an assistance program launched by a Grand Rapids-based family service organization.
After Bethany Christian Services’ success with the Trafficking Victim’s Assistance Program in West Michigan, it decided to replicate its model, opening offices in Detroit and New Jersey.
Karen Hanks, the coordinator of the program, said the organization has seen a spike in cases in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties where victims are often hidden in plain sight.
“Labor trafficking cases are often overlooked for a variety of reasons,” said Hanks, who has been working with the program since May. “All of the cases we currently have are all labor trafficking, almost exclusively to foreign nationals, who come here on a false promise and are vulnerable.”
Those at the highest risk of trafficking are immigrants here illegally, migrant workers, or foreign-born persons solicited into coming to the United States to pursue education or work opportunities. Hanks said it’s very difficult for a U.S. citizen to be pulled into labor trafficking because they know their rights and find opportunities to seek help, whereas a foreigner is already vulnerable and may not know English.
“It’s much easier to trick them and they may end up in a situation they don’t even realize,” she said. “It’s people who often come here illegally, but it shouldn’t make a difference when people are being exploited.”
Because foreign nationals don’t qualify for federal programs, Hanks said it’s difficult to locate safe housing, funding and help with re-entry. Bethany’s program is focused on helping victims return to a normal life at no cost.
They aid with counseling services, food, clothing, housing, employment and family reunification when possible. The program is funded and overseen by a grant from the U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants and is time and financially limited to one year.
To read the full article by Sarah Rahal on The Detroit News: Click HereTags: Bethany Christian Services, Detroit, immigration, U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants
Category: Survivor Support