DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — At least three agencies have investigated reports of trafficking or exploitation of unaccompanied migrant children in the Enterprise.
According to Polaris, the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, more than 22,000 victims and survivors of human trafficking were identified in America in 2019 alone, with hundreds coming from the Wiregrass.
“Unfortunately, we are involved with hundreds of cases a year where children are abused,” Child Advocacy Center Director, Terri Dubose said.
According to Bloomberg Government, a data-driven information group, sources close to the investigation in Enterprise say the Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Labor Department investigated the Enterprise situation but were unable to track down most of the minors who were placed with sponsors in the area, which could be troubling for certain people trying to speak out about their situation.
“What’s going to make you more vulnerable and afraid to go to the police if you are concerned about your immigration status,” said Dubose.
According to Dubose, you have to know what to look for in trafficking cases, because they aren’t usually like the media portrays them.
“White van in the parking lot. Or someone put a zip tie on the door handle of a car,” said Dubose. “I wouldn’t say that never happens, but I can tell you we have not been involved in a case that starts like that, and neither have our colleagues we have talked to.”
Dubose also says knowledge is a good tactic to help fight this issue.
“The biggest challenge for all of us is to be able to recognize when it is trafficking and just have information about what the next step should be,” Dubose said.