Lost Children: Addressing the Under – Identification of Trafficked Alien Minors in Los Angeles County

An estimated 7,000 alien minors are trafficked into the United States annually. Recognizing this problem as a national priority, the federal government passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) in 2000 to combat human trafficking. The law increases penalties for human traffickers, provides legal protections and benefits to victims, and promotes prevention efforts overseas. However, the number of victims identified is drastically lower than estimated. A recent Los Angeles Times article reported that the federal services and benefits provided for by the VTVPA were underused.


The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), in addition to providing direct care services, offers training on human trafficking issues to other public and private agencies and attempts to coordinate their efforts in the fight against human trafficking. CAST is concerned that the discrepancy between the number of cases involving alien minors it encounters (1% of all cases) and the number seen by the federal government (13% of all cases) is an indicator of under-identification in the Los Angeles area. This report seeks to advise CAST in addressing the under-identification of trafficked alien minors in Los Angeles County.


The analysis employed interviews, a review of publicly available documents, and internet searches to assess the trafficking of alien minors in LAC, ascertain the factors contributing to the under-identification of trafficked alien minors, and identify policy solutions to address the problem.
The analysis found that the training materials most commonly used to train individuals in human trafficking do not include child-specific material.


The analysis also found that public agencies most likely to encounter alien minors were not trained to identify trafficking victims.


To address these problems, CAST should actively seek to train DCFS and other child welfare providers in human trafficking issues. This will increase the probability of successful identifications of trafficked alien minors in the community.

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