The Bowling Green International Center is extending the support it offers to immigrant victims of human trafficking, whether that means help with securing legal residency, finding work or a place to live or even counseling referrals.
“It mirrors what we do to refugees, but it’s just that this one is targeted to a particular group, and there is more intensive case management with this group because of the trauma that they’ve gone through,” Albert Mbanfu, the center’s executive director, told the Daily News.
During a meeting Thursday at the center, Mbanfu shared details about the program with school district representatives, health department staff and other stakeholders. The program is funded by a government grant and will be available until 2021, Mbanfu said.
Human trafficking is a situation in which an individual is compelled to work or engage in commercial sex through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline said trafficking cases are generally underreported, particularly among victims of labor trafficking and certain racial or ethnic groups.
However, according to statistics kept by the national hotline, Kentucky saw 490 trafficking cases between 2007 and 2018. In 2017, as many as 127 victims were identified in the state, according to a report published by the hotline in July.
Mbanfu said he expects to meet with local law enforcement officials to better understand how severe the problem is here. He’s also reaching out to collaborate with other relevant agencies, he said.
The program focuses on immigrant victims of human trafficking, Mbanfu said.
Previously, Mbanfu said the center would refer out for support services for human trafficking victims when it encounters them.
But now, the center can provide a wider range of services. That could include help with obtaining legal status, renting apartments for victims, providing them with English as a second language classes and help with finding work.
“In the case of the human trafficking, we will actually monitor it and document it and make sure that the services are provided and that they are provided on time and that the client is satisfied with the services received,” he said.
– If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.