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National Security Leaders Release White Paper Highlighting Difference Between Trafficking, Smuggling

November 1, 2022

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Anna Nix Kumar

Washington, D.C. — The Council on National Security and Immigration (CNSI) today released a white paper on the importance of understanding the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling in order to properly address each issue.

The paper, authored by CNSI leaders Joe Whitley and Gus Coldebella, details the legal differences between the crimes of human trafficking and human smuggling and highlights the common ways that people fall victim to such crimes. While the paper acknowledges the steps the U.S. government has taken to combat smuggling and trafficking, it emphasizes the need to treat the issues separately to properly address them.

Below are a few excerpts from the paper. To view the paper in its entirety, click here.

“Human smuggling and trafficking are major issues, not only for our immigration system but also for our national security,” said Joe Whitley. “In order to truly address them, we must first recognize the difference. For too long, we have conflated the two, leading to inadequate attention, funding and resources to confront the problem.”


When discussing human trafficking and smuggling, differentiating between the two is of the utmost importance. To address the monumental problems of trafficking and smuggling, we must first define them correctly.

The most prominent feature that distinguishes these crimes from one another is coercion. Whereas human smuggling is an act a person voluntarily elects to participate in, those who fall victim to human trafficking are defrauded or forced into their position. …

Some of the confusion between these terms originates from an inadequate reservoir of data on the quantity of human trafficking victims and smuggled migrants. The intentionally covert nature of these crimes means it is difficult to track the magnitude of their occurrences. …

Both human trafficking and smuggling are extraordinarily dangerous for the individuals involved. Furthermore, both actions are illegal, frequently can involve sophisticated criminal enterprises, and threaten the U.S.’s authority over its borders. It is imperative that Congress take further action to address these harmful issues.


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