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2015 Holiday Appeal - Akili's Story
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Akili and his wife Reny fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2008. After a 1,300 mile journey and six years in a refugee camp, they're building a new life in Buffalo: http://goo.gl/EfYNms

IIB's End of the year Appeal
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Are you interested in making an end of the year gift to the International Institute of Buffalo? Click HERE to read our work to bring the Welcoming
Fourth Installment of our Annual Appeal
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When Ibrahim and his family came to the United States, they did not anticipate being thrown into the healthcare system. IIB was there to help.

Map for Adventurous Eaters Now on Sale!
Monday, December 15, 2014

More than 80 International Restaurants and Markets Included!

More News>>

Human Trafficking FAQ

Does human trafficking happen in Western New York?

Yes. Western New York is composed of three urban centers surrounded by large rural areas. These urban centers have extensive casino, restaurant, and exotic dancing establishments; all of which are common industries for human traffickers to utilize.  Marginalized farm workers in the rural areas are commonly exploited and provide another common trafficking opportunity.  Buffalo and Niagara Falls are major transit points for travelers between the United States and Canada.  Constant movement of a large transient population, coupled with extensive casino, restaurant and exotic dancing establishments & rural farms, exacerbates the conditions for human trafficking.    

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How many people are trafficking worldwide?  In the United States?  In Western New York?

IIB has served over 200 victims in Western New York since 2007.  The U.S. State Department estimates that approximately 12.3 million men, women, & children are being held in trafficking situations around the world; and at least 15,000 people are trafficking into the United States annually.  However, as Attorney General, Eric Holder, has noted - this is only a rough estimate.  The best, & most truthful, answer to this question is: "We don't know."

Due to the nature of the crime, victims of trafficking are so well-hidden, away from the rest of society, that it is impossible to know the true extent of the crime.  The only thing that is clear is that far fewer victims are identified & assisted than exist.  According to the State Department, only 0.4% of trafficking victims have been identified.

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What is the difference between trafficking and smuggling?

Smuggling occurs when migrants pay a third party to transport them across an international border.  Once the migrants have crossed the border, they pay the smuggler the fee and their business transaction has ended.  In this case, both parties have committed a crime.

Smuggling can turn into trafficking, however, if a migrant is told that the smuggling fee is actually going to be much larger than expected; and if the migrant is told that he or she must work off the debt.  The migrant then becomes indentured to the smuggler and is forced to work for little or no pay in terrible conditions against his or her will.  When that happens, smuggling has turned into trafficking.

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Why aren't trafficking victims who came willingly (and illegally) into the United States deported?

The federal government of the United States provides certain types of visas - U Visas & T Visas - for individuals who are victims of certain crimes while in the United States.  These visas allow immigrants who came to the United States illegally to change their status to a legal status that provides and eventual path to citizenship.

In addition to the humanitarian interest served by this option, there is a very practical for allowing crime victims (who cooperate with law enforcement) to stay legally in the United States.  If victims were worried that they would be deported if law enforcement officers found out they were here illegally, they would not report a crime.  Without victims' cooperation in reporting crimes, it would be much more difficult for law enforcement to prosecute traffickers.   It is vital to public safety to be able to successfully investiage & prosecute violent, dangerous traffickers.  Victims are necessary to that investigation & prosecution, so victims who cooperate with law enforcement are allowed to stay in the United States.

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Is there a difference between sex and labor trafficking?

Federal law differentiates between sex & labor trafficking.  The method, means, & ends are applied exactly the same.  Sex trafficking, however, refers to people sold into prostitution against their will; whereas labor trafficking refers to people sold into every other trade against their will (farm or hospitality work, for instance).  While sex trafficking appears to receive more media attention than labor trafficking, labor trafficking is just as prevalent as sex trafficking.

Both labor and sex trafficking involves significant physical and psychological abuse.  Labor trafficking victims have been known to experience significant sexual exploitation & for victims of sex trafficking to experience significant labor exploitation.  Therefore, it is the view of many victim advocates that all forms of trafficking are best described simply as human trafficking.

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What is safety planning?

A safety plan is created by the client with support the trafficking victim case manager.  Safety plans assist victims in solidifying a plan to increase their options for safety while their trafficker continues to threaten or coerce them.  Safety plan focus on physical safety; securing needed documents & property; keeping their location secret; and linking efficiently to law enforcement, if needed.  Safety plans are commonly used in cases of domestic violence, but are useful in any situation where a victim might be in danger from a trafficker (who is not in jail) - or from the traffickers' cohorts.

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Where can I find information about human trafficking?

We recommend several great resources:

IIB is a member of the Freedom Network (USA) - a national coalition of anti-trafficking programs engaged in public policy advocacy for trafficking victims & increasing public awareness for trafficking.  The Freedom Network has more information about trafficking here, as well as a list of further reading material.

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"It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters."
- Mother Teresa

The mission of the International Institute of Buffalo is to assist immigrants, refugees, their families, and others who face linguistic and cultural barriers to become self-sufficient, productive members of our community, and to increase global understanding and international connections in Western New York.
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