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Arrest of 7-Eleven slaves shows slavery is still an American problem

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The discovery and arrest of nine 7-Eleven store owners employing modern-day slaves, has brought the shocking problem of modern-day slavery to light in America. According to statistics, there are an estimated 27 million people held in slavery today, more than at any other time in human history.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Monday, nine owners and managers of 7-Eleven stores in Virginia and on Long Island were arrested following an immigration probe. The investigation revealed the workers were trafficked from Pakistan, forced to live in housing provided by the franchise owners, and paid for with cash and a substantial portion skimmed from their paychecks.

The workers were also forced to live under stolen identities.

More than a dozen workers were found and taken into immigration custody. Suspects were charged with wire fraud conspiracy, harboring illegal immigrants and aggravated identity theft. In addition to 30 stores caught in the initial sweep, authorities say they are targeting another 40 franchises.

The case is yet another example of how modern-day slavery is occurring in the United States, right before our eyes.

In addition to slaves working in stores, thousands of people are trafficked and forced to work in sweatshops, as sex workers, and more. And that's just here in the United States. Nor are all of the slaves immigrants. Many natural-born American citizens, of all races, get caught in the web of human trafficking.

However, what happens in the U.S. is part of a worldwide problem where people are trafficked internationally and used as forced labor.

Humans are trafficked from and across every continent. The majority of slaves tend to be women and children, but men are also trafficked.

Part of the problem is that nations, including the United States, have patchwork laws to deal with human trafficking. In some countries, the authorities are complicit in the trafficking. In most countries, authorities are either ambivalent or helpless.

Only a fraction of slaves ever acquire their freedom by means of escape or rescue. Most slaves die as a result of being trafficked. Whether they're sex workers who die after a short life of abuse and drugs, or a sweatshop laborer who dies after years of neglect, the end is usually tragic.

In the United States, President Obama has called human trafficking one of the priorities of his administration, and he has signed an executive order to improve safeguards and prevent the use of trafficked labor by use of government and federal subcontractors.

Despite the protections, human trafficking remains a serious problem both in the United States and abroad. This problem will not improve until education, political action, and real change occur.

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