Victim Assistance Program is run by the U. S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and aims at apprehending human traffickers and more so, providing assistance to victims of human trafficking (U. S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2011). Speaking to the program manager, it can be understood that it takes a lot to make it work due to the large numbers of victims and the complexities involved in dealing with trauma. The emigration victims have numerous experiences and challenges that make their situation complicated. This program strives to ensure that the concerns of the immigrants are addressed and that they are not oppress or used by unscrupulous employers or exploited sexually among others. Some of the activities the program takes part in are: filing court cases for victims, helping them all through the court proceedings, counseling victims and the families too, helping them overcome assault issues and also provide financial aid where the need arises.
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Contrary to modern-day ways, slavery victims are pushed into prostitution, involuntary labor, labor and other inhumane activities. Limon (2010) reports that the victims have no option other than engaging in what they are forced to do. Such persons suffer under their employers and in most cases find themselves in helpless situations as they are without their passports and other important travel documents. People who have been victimized through human trafficking activities suffer and go through a lot of trouble at their work places. Their families too undergo a lot of difficulty knowing that their relatives are being tortured in some far away region of the world. Still some families have to contend with not knowing the whereabouts of their loved one, since the trafficker may lure victims and gat the outside their countries without the knowledge of their family members or friends. This assistance program serve to provide assistance to both the immediate victims of human trafficking and the families that are left in the dark about their loved ones. As the program facilitate reconciliation human trafficking victims with their family member in the home of mother countries.
The victim population in this case is mostly made up of the young persons, in the age bracket of 20- 45. This is the age bracket in which most persons are searching for employment, and could get to the point of desperation that pushes them into the arms of opportunistic employers (Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, 2012). There are also cases of children trafficking, who are then used as sex workers. This single occurrence produces multiple effects on the family, societal and national levels especially if the labor is exported in another region. The most prominent quality of the victim is vulnerability brought about by their poor economic statuses which bring about recidivism.
Recidivism refers to the recurrence of undesirable behavior in persons treated for it or who have once suffered from it (Office of Justice, 2012). In connection to this, it would refer to the returning of a former slave to the same situation due to desperation, in most cases. There are rare cases of recidivism in slavery due to the torture that they undergo; this is according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2007). Most have died and others scarred for life in their ‘workplaces’. Depending on what region of the world that one is enslaved, the types of crimes experienced vary. In the Arabic world, there are a lot of sexual offences committed against slaves. Such are a huge problem as they violate ones right and go against the codes of employment for whatever type of employment. Being overworked and poor pay are other common problems experienced.
There have been a number programs put in place to solve this problem, though most have failed. Due to the extremity of desperation to seek employment, it has been hard to fully eliminate this problem of recidivism. Attempts to enlighten the masses on the dangers of unclear ways of getting employed and what might happen when they return to places they have been rescued from have not been unsuccessful. Attempts by regional government to curb this problem have proved futile too.
The program adopted by the ICE has to some extent been a success due to the techniques employed for the program (ICE Victim’s Assistance Program, 2010). Persons working for or with this organization have numerous responsibilities towards service for the victims of human trafficking crime. There are victim advocates who work one-on-one with the victims and their families and offer counseling services. In the event that a person enslaved died while still away from home, the ICE has the duty to help the family with burial proceedings and also support the bereaved family until they are in a position to get on their feet, in the case where the deceased was the sole breadwinner of the family.
This Victim Assistance Program by the ICE has been largely effective and has been so due to the aid accorded to them by members of the public who alert them of any suspicious activities in their neighborhoods. Besides that, human rights activists have also contributed to this success. The activist have managed to get many people thinking of the rights of their fellow human beings and also manage to get people talking against exploitation whenever the see anything they consider exploitation or oppression. However, the organization is faced with quite a number of challenges. Owing to the fact that they have to offer financial assistance to victims, at times, provision may be an issue due to limited resources. For the organization, it at times proves to be cumbersome to go up against well organized underground groups. Lack of vast personnel for the team is an issue too, and as a result the organization has at times to rely on volunteer workers, which reduces the effectiveness of the services offered (ICE Victim’s Assistance Program, 2010).
Another limitation of the organization is that, it exposes the victims to attacks by former employers. In the event that a victim’s word or action causes losses to human trafficking a group, there is a risk that they will be in danger for bad mouthing an otherwise ‘reputable employment organization. This increases the issues that the ICE has to deal with, besides all the strain they already have endured.
The U. S Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency was created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U. S Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service. It is the principal investigative arm of the U.S Department of Homeland Security and stands as the second largest investigative agency in the federal government. Currently, it has a workforce of over 20,000 professionals in all its offices in the 50 states. It has also established offices in 47 foreign countries around the world.
This program initially started in the United States of America to serve victims of slavery in it area of jurisdiction has since spread out to offer this rare but essential service to affected persons. The organization has cooperated with persons from other parts of the work to carry out rescue missions to free enslaved persons. By this, a larger population has been served and humanitarian grounds have generally improved for all persons, especially those prone to exploitation due to desperation. This therefore increases the effectiveness of the program as it serves a wider population.
The population of persons served by this is a vague one, as anyone is prone to slavery activities, with the exception of the weak and the elderly. In some parts of the world, children are also captured for use as sex workers and household assistants. This is mostly for abandoned children, especially those living with caretakers who deem them as unnecessary burden, and hence sell them off as slaves. The strong-bodied persons are however at higher risk of being wanted for such activities as they have the capacity to serve and work effectively for long and under hard conditions.
The goals of this program are numerous and all are directed at rehabilitating victims of human trafficking and making their life better. It also aims at curbing further illegal activities on such and enlightening the public on how to tell if they were under a situation on being enslaved. Other roles of the ICE include: housing, healthcare, food and other basic needs on rescue. Victims are also entitled to legal assistance and case management aid when legal issues are involved (ICE Victim’s Assistance Program, 2010). In the event that legal proceedings take long, victims are to be allowed to rebuild their lives as they await legal decision to be made by getting job authorization and learning English or whatever language is used in the region they find themselves enslaved.
The length of the program is long tem as the problems it deals with are long term. It has permanent employees for that matter and at terms contracts temporary volunteers when there is an influx of cases to be handled. The delivery style for the organization is complex as it incorporates rescue services and needs police assistance. Other aspects of the program too adopt a one-on-one format as they assistance has to be felt by the victim and the family too. In the case that the ICE is not in a position to handle the case, it then connects the victim to another organization that can do that (U. S Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).
By any parameters used, the activities of the victim’s assistance program by the ICE have been largely successfully. It has helped a lot of victims rebuild their lives and those of their families too. Governments have done a lot in support of this programs and hence improving its services and its sphere of influence to other regions. There are improvements that can be taken to boost the activities of the ICE.
One of these could be widening its scope of influence in other parts of the world where such crimes are rampant. In many parts of Africa, there are high incidences of slavery that go unaddressed as the concerned governments have not put this as one their priorities. They also lack the capacity to handle the long term complications that follow in slavery rescue and rehabilitation missions. This calls for more investment in such programs so as to save lives and show progress in the world that we are living in today.
The strategic plan by ICE for 2010-2014 is one that aims at improving its capacity and generally, all its services. It is a comprehensive plan that tries to lay out how ICE will effectively meets its responsibilities of criminal investigation. Some of the main priorities are protecting the border against illicit trade through smart and tough interior immigration enforcement. By this, the ICE will have been reached a point of actualization and can easily carry out its activities. In sum the ICE program seem to being about a relief to the victims of human trafficking and their families despite the numerous challenges the organization is facing and could use all the support it can get form volunteers and informers.