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Human Trafficking of Immigrants

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Human Trafficking of Immigrants

Reflection Paper

Introduction

My presentation with the group focused on the background of human trafficking. This paper will add nuance to this subject by discussing in-depth the reality of those trafficked once they arrive to Canada – and the immigration system they must face once they are labeled “illegal migrant”, “refugee”, and/or “immigrant”.

History and development of the population

Human trafficking, the recruitment, transportation, and/or harbouing of persons for the purpose of exploitation, has existed as early as the beginning of human civilization, with the trafficking of slaves beginning in the 1400’s. Now, the majority of trafficked victims come from China, Hong Kong, and Fiji, Taiwan (The Salvation Army, n.d.).  According to Statistics Canada, in 2009-2014, from 396 victims of human trafficking, 93% where female. The majority of these females were young women/girls, with about 47% from ages 18-25, and 25% were minors (Karam, 2016). The present reality is such that many of those that are trafficked to Canada, are processed by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), and eventually, their cases are heard by the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB), once they arrive to Canada. However, until their cases are heard, those that have been trafficked are kept in detention facilities, and they are processed similarly to how refugees, migrants, and other individuals with precarious immigration status, are treated. Conservative ideologies have greatly influenced public opinion and government policy regarding those that have been trafficked, which, in turn, compound the negative attitudes and stigmas already held by society towards refugees. The previous Conservative federal government’s approach to immigrants and refugees is to remain suspicious, lest the cultural and traditional norms of the country be upset. The refugee situation in Canada is often labeled as a “crisis” (Lacroix, p. 150, 2004) and refugees and migrants (which include trafficked persons) are referred to as illegals, criminals, and infiltrators. These terms all have sensationalist connotations of criminality, of non-whiteness, and that those seeking asylum are lacking authentic claims.

Analysis of Identity, Social Location & Self Reflection

My family and I are immigrants to Canada, and we first came to Canada on work visas. My identity as a woman not Canadian-born adds further nuance to my identity, and my understanding of power dynamics within this population, and my deep-seeded desire to work within this community, due to my first-hand experience. Acknowledging the authentic, full story of my own life is equally as important as understanding the full story of another, and that I am in a unique position where I can use my privilege and access to power in order to empower those that are not afforded such privileges.  

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