Human trafficking is a growing global scourge. And while the problem is more acute in some countries, the U.S. is certainly not immune. Its efforts to fight the crime will be enhanced through interagency cooperation, making it especially positive news that the U.S. Departments of Justice, Labor and Homeland Security have jointly announced that six cities will be sites of new Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams.
It’s even better news that Minneapolis will be one of them.
Each team will be led by the local U.S. attorney (Andrew Luger in Minnesota) and the highest-ranking federal investigative agents in the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Labor regional field offices. They’ll lead what’s called Phase II of the ACTeam Initiative, which the Justice Department describes as an interagency effort to streamline federal criminal investigations and prosecution of human-trafficking offenses.
The selection of Minneapolis as one of the six cities reflects strong local leadership on an international issue.
“It’s a recognition of the work we have done over the last two years in building all kinds of state, local and federal partnerships to better investigate and prosecute these cases,” Laura Provinzino, assistant U.S. attorney and human-trafficking coordinator, told an editorial writer.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar agrees. “It’s an acknowledgment of the work we’ve been doing, the coordination, the model and the work we’ve done in Congress,” she said last week.
In fact, some of the congressional action, such as this year’s Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, was led by Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Minnesota’s Third District Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen. The act was modeled on Minnesota’s “Safe Harbor” law.
Beyond lawmakers and attorneys, advocates combating human trafficking in numerous nongovernmental organizations based in Minnesota are also important players in the local — and global — efforts.
The designation doesn’t immediately bring new resources. But Klobuchar said that she “strongly believes” it makes Minnesota much more competitive when additional grants become available.
It’s easy to be cynical about public service. But beyond the campaign rhetoric denigrating “government,” there are hardworking professionals who eschew partisanship for professionalism and try to tackle intractable problems like human trafficking. Minnesota is fortunate to be recognized for such efforts.
“As a citizen of the state and a law enforcement official, I want to be in a community where children and our immigrant workforce and others are not for sale,” said Provinzino. “That’s a big piece of what we are trying to combat. To make sure that human trafficking doesn’t take place in Minnesota, and through aggressive law enforcement and through prosecution we can hopefully deter more of it from happening.”