Oct 04 2004

Graham Pushes for Death Penalty for Human Traffickers

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has introduced legislation making human traffickers eligible for the death penalty. The U.S. Department of State estimates more than a million women and children are trafficked around the world each year, generally for the purpose of domestic servitude, sweatshop labor, or sexual exploitation. The practice generates an estimated $9.5 billion a year. “Traffickers, just like alien smugglers, through unabashed acts of profiteering, endanger the lives of countless aliens while compromising the integrity of our immigration laws,” said Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Corrections and Victims Rights. “Make no mistake, the incentives for human smugglers are enormous.” Graham’s subcommittee held a hearing on the issue last July. At any given time, the State Department estimates thousands of people are in the smuggling pipeline, with the United States being the primary target. Smugglers and traffickers deliver some 50,000 aliens here annually. “Traffickers kidnap their victims, move them across borders, and then enslave them,” said Graham. “We must ensure the punishments for trafficking crimes are such that the risks of apprehension, prosecution and punishment far outweigh the payday. The best way to do that is the vigorous prosecution and harsh punishment.” Under current law, a person found guilty of alien smuggling where death results is subject to the full range of punishments including the death penalty. However, if death results from a trafficking offense, the defendant is not subject to the death penalty. “We must not allow otherwise innocent men, women, and children to be abused and killed by those who seek to profit from the desperation of others,” said Graham. “We should bring the punishment in line with this horrendous practice.” ####