As January marks Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Center for Immigration Studies releases a second podcast interview focused on the subject. This week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy features Frank Russo, director of the CPAC Foundation’s Center for Combatting Human Trafficking, who joins our guest host, Jessica Vaughan, director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. The two experts discuss the challenges, initiatives, and policy considerations involved in combatting this issue.

Russo brings extensive experience in drafting and passing public safety and criminal justice legislation to his current position, which focuses on assisting states in updating their human trafficking laws. He emphasizes that even though 90 percent of crime in the U.S. is handled at the state and local level, there exists a significant gap in state law when it come to a comprehensive criminal and civil code to specifically address human trafficking. Russo explains that local jurisdictions often resort to charging traffickers with offenses like kidnapping or false imprisonment, lacking a targeted approach to combat human trafficking itself.

Another challenge in the battle against human trafficking lies in the fragmented focus of victim advocacy organizations, state and local jurisdictions, and federal prosecutors. Each entity concentrates on different aspects of human trafficking, resulting in a lack of collaboration and a failure to understand the factors that drive the trafficking of individuals to the U.S.

Russo offers recommendations for how the state and local levels can better fight human trafficking. One key suggestion is to provide resources to individuals who can prove they were trafficked and will testify against their traffickers, such as placing them in a safehouse to ensure their protection. Another is to adopt certain language in state law that can hold employers responsible for labor trafficking occurring in their facilities or through their use of contractors.

Russo spoke at last month’s 2nd annual Conference to Combat Human Trafficking, co-sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies and the University of Houston’s Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute.


Jessica Vaughan is the Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.


Frank Russo is the Director of the CPAC Foundation Center for Combatting Human Trafficking.


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a “Conehead” on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in “Planet of the Apes”.

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Published in: Immigration, Law