The incidence of human trafficking is on the rise in our state. With no income to speak of in Mexico, Ariana met people who promised to transport her to the United States where she could find work. Instead, they sold her to a brothel in a town on the U.S.-Mexican border. After being sexually assaulted and beaten on multiple occasions over a period of several weeks, the brothel owners brought her to the United States, where she was forced to cook and clean for a woman involved in a trafficking ring. Other women in the house were forced to prostitute themselves. The traffickers called Ariana’s family members and threatened to harm her in an attempt to extort money. Ariana escaped, made contact with family members, and reported the traffickers to federal investigators.
Several months later, thanks to the investigation initiated after Ariana’s testimony, the trafficking operation was raided. Authorities discovered a number of other undocumented people being held against their will. Our client’s continued cooperation in the prosecution of the traffickers led to several convictions. Ariana’s complete cooperation in the investigation and prosecution, in spite of the danger to her personal safety and the extreme emotional trauma she experienced, entitled her to a T visa. These visas allow human trafficking victims to live and work in the United States and provide a path to permanent resident status.
Thanks to Legal Aid NC’s continued advocacy on behalf of Ariana and her family, she was recently reunited with her young daughter, whom she had left in Mexico. The reunification was particularly poignant, because Ariana’s original motivation for coming to the United States was being able to afford her daughter’s schooling—an opportunity that Ariana herself had never had.
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