Immigrant and Trafficking Victims
Sex trafficking victims made medical visits focused on sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, and abortions.
- Screening immigrant and trafficked victims for violence in the health care setting can pose unique challenges.
- Immigrant and trafficked victims may find the SHARE card helpful.
- Victims of violence who were immigrants and/or trafficked described visiting small, private medical establishments, as well as large, public ones, for a variety of conditions.
- In 2004, HHS initiated a campaign to increase awareness of human trafficking among professionals, including health care workers, who may unknowingly interact with trafficking victims in their daily work.20
- Studies of foreign-born patients in ambulatory care settings have revealed a surprisingly high prevalence of patients who report histories of violence and torture that they did to disclose to their physicians. 21
- With domestic servants, medical visits were triggered by respiratory or systemic illness or bodily injury that prevented the performance of household duties.22
- Sex trafficking victims made medical visits focused on sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, and abortions.23
Under the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) Language Access Plan (Executive Order 13166) issued in 2000 and updated in 2013, each HHS agency of the Department of Health and Human Services shall provide access to timely, quality language assistance services to individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP).24
Limited English Proficient (LEP) Victims
- The New York State Department of Health implemented a regulation in September 2006 that sets standards for hospitals’ communication with limited-English-proficient individuals (LEP).25
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human and Human Service (HHS) published its 2013 Language Access Plan (HHS LAP) ensuring access to the Department’s programs and activities to people with limited English proficiency (LEP).26
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Look beneath the surface: Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
- Baldwin, Eisenman, Sayles, Ryan, Chuang, Identification of Human Trafficking Victims in Health Care Settings, Health and Human Rights, Vol. 13. No. 1, July 2011
In other instances, a language barrier further complicated communications between victims and health care providers. Most of the trafficked victims had limited English proficiency (LEP) while they were enslaved, and many who received health services reported that medical personnel communicated only with their trafficker, who also served as their interpreter. The traffickers would either lie to the health care workers or they would tell the victims to lie.
Studies reveal that health care workers in the U.S. often remain unaware of their immigrant patients’ experiences of extreme violence; patients with past or current histories of trafficking and forced labor are likely also going undetected. Focusing efforts among immigrant or LEP patients, or those who pay cash for services, may facilitate identification of international trafficking victims.
- The Department of Health and Human Services Language Access Plan 2013
This regulation makes it clear that every limited-English-proficient patient has a right to meaningful access to a hospital’s services; requires every hospital to develop a language assistance program and designate a language assistance coordinator; requires hospitals to identify and document each patient’s language of preference and the acceptance or refusal of language assistance services; sets clear limits on the use of friends, strangers, and family members as interpreters, including age restrictions; and so forth.
- New York State Code of Rules and Regulations Section 405.7
- HHS Reaffirms Commitment Access to All Programs and Activities by LEP Persons Pledged