Local News

Aug 1, 2013 4:55 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

Special Report: Human Trafficking, Stopping the Cycle

FALFURRIAS - As Washington continues to battle over a proposed Immigration Reform Bill, we talked to border volunteers and human rights activists about some of the horrors immigrants can face as they make their way across south Texas.

We accompanied Texas Border Volunteers who came across a "rape tree", a concept we were unfamiliar with.

The volunteers explained, it's a symbol of a coyote's conquest over a woman he's bringing across, a form of payment for his services.

A coyote will rape the woman and force her to leave her underwear underneath a tree as a message.

These barbaric practices are exactly what human trafficking advocacy groups like Blue Nation want to stop.

Practices where women have to trade something, often sex, for safe passage across the border.

Carolina Sizemore of Blue Nation says crimes like these can be greatly reduced if the public and law enforcement are made aware of two little known resources available to these women. They're called T-Visas and U-Visas.

T-Visas allow any victim of a human trafficking crime to stay in the country as a witness against the traffickers that committed the crime.

U-Visas allow the same thing, but apply to any immigrant who's been the victim of a violent crime.

Sizemore says if more Border Patrol agents knew about these tools, they would be able to get see if immigrants that they catch qualify. Then, they could put them in touch with the right people.

Sizemore says that way, the victims are protected and maybe some of the traffickers and coyotes will get caught.

"You know, these people are victims," Sizemore says, "our goal is to lock up the bad guys, so they can't go back and do it again, because we have a cycle going on that's insane."

She says that because women that are caught and sent back across the border often try it again.

But with these visas, the cycle might slow down.

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