by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

An initiative to prevent and combat human trafficking was presented by Supervisor Nora Vargas on Tuesday to comprehensively help victims, which can average as many as one every hour.  

"San Diego County is among the regions of the United States with the highest rates of human trafficking, with between 3,000 and 8,000 survivors each year," Vargas said, citing figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

According to Vargas, "on average, victims of human trafficking are 16 years old, and although they are mostly women, it also affects men". Several experts who spoke at a conference held by Vargas said “the undocumented community is the most impacted”. 

Vargas, the representative of District 1 on the council of supervisors, said that the help proposed by her initiative "is for all victims of human trafficking" and emphasized that undocumented people need to know that there is help and protection.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said “we certainly see an absolute disproportion in the victimization of the undocumented community in labor trafficking, while in sex trafficking, although it affects all sectors, we see that the rates are higher between minors of color.” 

She continued: 
“But it is important for people to know that state law makes absolutely no difference if a victim is undocumented; You are entitled to services as a victim, shelter, medical services, and compensation in the same way that a person who is a (US) citizen would be helped". 

Marisa Ugarte, executive director of the Bilateral Security Corridor Coalition, said that the undocumented community is more impacted by labor and sex trafficking, "one, by fear of the police, by fear of deportation."

She said that "trafficking, in general, attracts organized crime" that affects ethnic minorities, "so it is very important that the community knows we are here to serve them, that no one is going to be deported, and that reporting it is extremely important."

Vargas' initiative proposes joining efforts to prevent human trafficking, improve the coordination of resources, work with law enforcement agencies, and especially guarantee services to survivors and families of survivors of human trafficking.

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