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Human Trafficking & Human Smuggling

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1999 words Published: 3rd Apr 2019

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Nearly all countries in the world face the challenge of human trafficking and human smuggling whether as a country of transit, origin or destinations for the victims (Jac-Kucharski, 2012). Human trafficking and human smuggling have become a global problem of recent. The investigative agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approximated that 600000 to 800000 people are trafficked and smuggled annually across the international borders (Department of State, 2006). Additionally; the estimation shows that a significant number of people are trafficked and smuggled within the boundaries of their country. The United States is the final destination country for the trafficked, according to the US Department of State (Department of State, 2006). There are various reasons why people carry out human trafficking and human smuggling. Some of the reasons include labor and sexual exploitation among others (Tena, 2010).

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Most of the victims are enticed with false promises from their homes and instead enforced into activities such as prostitution, forced labor and domestic servitude to name but a few (Jac- Kucharski, 2012). Additionally, politicians have become part and parcel in the discussion of such activities as a result of the nature of the phenomenon (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2013). The non-profit organization and government agencies have had the responsibility to deal with the victims of such actions. Due to the similarities between the two crimes, both have been confused by the public. What are the differences between human trafficking and human smuggling? What are the measures taken by DHS to stop or mitigate both crimes?

Differences between human trafficking and human smuggling

Human trafficking and human smuggling are different activities in the United States, and these terms cannot be interchanged. Human trafficking is a grave human rights violation and a serious crime that revolves around exploitation of people. Human trafficking can be defined as sex trafficking in the sense that commercial sex activities are forcefully induced, coercion, fraud or rather a state in which the victims who are forcibly persuaded in such acts are below 18-years old (Jakobsson & Kotsadam, 2013). Additionally, it can be defined as harboring, recruiting, transporting, providing or obtaining an individual for hard labor activities forcefully, or through fraud or coercion for objection to involuntary slavery, debt bondage or peonage (Tripp & Mcmahon, 2016).

On the other hand, human smuggling revolves around the transportation of people and can be defined as the act of importing individuals into a country through careful avoidance of immigration laws (Jac-Kucharski, 2012). Such activities include importing illegal aliens into the country and harboring unlawful aliens illegally in the country. Moreover, in some situations, smuggling may involve rape, murder or assault either sexually of physically (Department of State, 2006).

Measures established by the Department of Homeland Security to stop or mitigate both crimes

The investigative agencies in the Department of Homeland Security in the United States which are responsible for curbing human smuggling and human trafficking include the Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Immigration (Tena, 2010). The ICE cooperates within its law implementation partners in fighting the global infrastructure that is involved in human trafficking and smuggling (ICE, 2013). The ICE achieves this mission by using its experts and authorities, disrobing away profit incentives and assets, cooperating with foreign partners and the United States for the purpose of attacking worldwide network as well as working with global non-governmental organizations for the identification, rescuing and providing assistance to the smuggling victims.

The ICE agency has embarked on the determined strategy in fighting human smuggling and trafficking. For instance, the ICE is pursuing investigations which are intelligence-driven for the purpose of targeting large-scale human smuggling organizations irrespective of their location of operations (ICE, 2013). There is specifically located emphasis on the smuggling rings that helps in posing the risk of the national security, threaten lives and engage in violence, extortion, hostage-taking, and abuse.

Additionally, there is proper coordination between the ICE and partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the purpose of ensuring hostile investigations and prosecution of the smuggling cases along the country borders. Moreover, the ICE is targeting all the links that are associated with smuggling activities past the direct smugglers (ICE, 2014). Precisely, the ICE aims at targeting the foreign organizers and recruiters, the fake document dealers and transportation, and employment networks who gain from the alien smuggling in the United States. Besides, the ICE aims at pursuing the legislation to raise the penalties beside organized smugglers and offer further criminal offenses to ensure enhancement of discoursing spotters who help criminals in smuggling aliens and contraband (ICE, 2014).

The ICE discovered that for successful investigations and prosecuting traffickers, the victims must be steady and free from intimidation and fear to be real witnesses (Tena, 2010). There is equality in the placement of value on the identification and the salvage of victims and the traffickers’ prosecution. The ICE has many security duty victim’s or witness’s coordinators who cooperate with the NGOs for the purpose of providing victim services (Tripp & Mcmahon, 2016). Moreover, the short-term immigration relief is given to the certified trafficking victims in continued presence status form.

The ICE has developed practical initiatives that aim at criticizing the infrastructure that provides support to the smuggling organizations and the assets acquired from the criminal activities. Such activities include snatching vehicles, goods, currency and armaments among others (ICE, 2014). This initiative has played a significant role in fighting human trafficking and smuggling.

The ICE has issued the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, which is one of the tools used in fighting human trafficking and smuggling, a notice to the owners of properties that have been recognized to be used in facilitating the human trafficking and smuggling aliens (Jac-Kucharski, 2012). This tool is very significant in the sense that various managers do not take into account the acceleration of criminal acts on their personal properties or the company’s resources.

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The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security made an announcement about the proposals to the Customs Enforcement and immigration during the annual meeting. The annual meeting was held at the White House by the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking (ICE, 2013). Some of the proposals made included the extension of the period of the significant immigration description for the people who are not citizens of the United States. Additionally, they would give vital constancy as well as better support to the victims of human trafficking and smuggling as they carry out further investigations of the traffickers. This is part of the victim-centered approach of the department in fighting against human trafficking.

In 2010, The Department Homeland Security came up with the Blue Campaign to act as the voice of the unified Department in fighting human trafficking and smuggling (DHS, n.d). The Blue Campaign came up with a resolution that there be human trafficking awareness training in cooperated into the major training courses at the institutions such as the Federal Law Enforcing Training Centers (DHS, n.d). This could be substantial because a greater percentage of federal law enforcement agencies who participate in Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) acquire skills and tools that help in curbing the human trafficking and smuggling and respond accordingly (DHS, n.d).

On a daily basis, the employees of the DHS search for the pointers and causes of human trafficking during their line of duty. Also, the employees of the ICE carry out investigations on human trafficking cases as well as providing support to the victims through the victim awareness programs (Jac-Kucharski, 2012). Besides, the employees in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency cooperate with the airline workers to curb human trafficking through the use of the Blue Lightning Initiative (CBP, n.d). Additionally, the airline personnel together with the support of the agencies make sure that products and properties acquired through forced labor from foreign countries do not find their way in the United States supply chain.

The citizenship and the Immigration agencies perform their duty of ensuring that the qualified victims of trafficking who are not citizens of the United States have accessibility to needed immigration qualifications for the trafficking victims (Jac-Kucharski, 2012). Moreover, the Blue Campaign ensures there is the empowerment of communities for the purpose of curbing human trafficking and smuggling through the formation of partnerships, coming up with public awareness, creation, and dissemination of resources and free tool which are used countrywide in curbing human trafficking and smuggling (DHS, n.d).

In conclusion, human trafficking, and human smuggling is a global issue which calls for every country to participate in the fighting process. The countries should come up with more measures that can be used to do away with human trafficking and smuggling completely. For that reason, different agencies and tools should be put in place worldwide to be used in fighting human trafficking and smuggling.


  • Jac-Kucharski, A. (2012). The Determinants of Human Trafficking: A US Case Study. International Migration, 50(6), 150-165. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2435.2012.00777.x
  • Jakobsson, N., & Kotsadam, A. (2013). The law and economics of international sex slavery: Prostitution laws and trafficking for sexual exploitation. European Journal of Law and Economics, 35(1), 87-107. doi:10.1007/s10657-011-9232-0
  • United States Customs & Border Protection Agency, (n.d). Blue Lightning Initiative. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/human-trafficking/blue-lightning
  • United States Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.). Blue Campaign. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
  • United States Department of State, (2006). Factsheet: Distinctions between human smuggling and human trafficking. Retrieved December 16, 2016, from http://www.state.gov/m/ds/hstcenter/90434.htm
  • United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (2013). Human trafficking and smuggling. Retrieved January 16, 2017, from https://www.ice.gov/factsheets/human-trafficking
  • United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (2014). ERO Annual Report: FY 2013 ICE immigration removals. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from https://www.ice.gov/doclib/about/offices/ero/pdf/2013-ice-immigration-removals.pdf
  • Tena, M. (2010, September 30). Modern day slavery in the U.S.-Mexican territory: Human trafficking at the border. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from http://catcher.sandiego.edu/items/peacestudies/Border_Brief_FINAL_BW_oct4_10.pdf
  • Tripp, T. M., & Mcmahon-howard, J. (2016). Perception vs. reality: The relationship between organized crime and human trafficking in metropolitan Atlanta. American Journal of Criminal Justice: AJCJ, 41(4), 732-764. doi:10.1007/s12103-015-9315-5


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