Human Smuggling vs. Human Trafficking

I recently read an article (the link to which is provided below) which greatly relates to our class discussion on human smuggling versus human trafficking. The article essentially highlighted the differences between the two topics and provided reasons for why the difference between smuggling and trafficking is so important. The article started by claiming that there was a common misconception of the terms “human smuggling” and “human trafficking” and that this misconception results in “dangerous policy implications.” The article went on to describe how the recent increase in human smuggling has brought a lot of attention to the issue. The author quotes the U.N. by stating the human smuggling is the “procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident.” On the other hand, human trafficking is defined as the “recruiting, transporting, or harboring of people by means of threat, coercion, or fraud for the purpose of exploitation.”  According to the article, the human trafficking business is a $150 billion dollar industry that involves primarily acts of “sexual exploitation, forced slavery, slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.” The article goes on to provide two reasons for why the difference between smuggling and trafficking is important. The author claims that the difference is important because of how policies are created and enacted. Specifically, the author stated that smuggling and trafficking affect each other in a manner similar to supply and demand forces. Additionally, the author claimed that “the distinction is even more important when you look at the rights and treatment of the victims of human trafficking.”

This article is interesting because I noticed that almost all of the points made in the article were points made in class. The class’ reasons for why smuggling and trafficking are different, at least in terms of policy and prosecution, were mostly addressed by the article. These differences essentially state that smuggling is generally a victimless act in which a person pays to voluntarily be transported across international borders; however, trafficking is a forced situation which exploits others for personal gain. It was also interesting to note that stealing organs is a common activity of the trafficking business, as was briefly talked about in class. What struck me about the article is that it stated that these definitions are extremely necessary as, without them, victims might be miscategorized and not given the help that they need.