A national hotline for human trafficking victims received more than 10,000 calls last year, from every state in the union.
A new report out today by the Polaris Project, which runs the 24-hour hotline through a federal grant, says the volume of calls for help is on the rise, as awareness of the problem grows.
The report says about half the cases Polaris identified involve U.S. citizens, with most of the calls emanating from California, Texas, Florida and New York. Calls are coming from people exploited for sex or labor, as well as teachers, social workers, truck drivers and cabbies, according to the report.
Sarah Jakiel, deputy director of the group, tells NPR in an interview that victims have many unmet needs.
“Consistently people are calling in, either in crisis situations or submitting tips to the national hotline and one of the most immediate needs they have is access to a safe place to stay,” Jakiel says.
The report says victims could use more money to find long term housing, and transportation from one part of the country to another.
Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of Congress from both political parties have sought to put a spotlight on human trafficking over the past year.
“This is absolutely an issue that is happening in our communities and in our back yard,” Jakiel says. “It’s very much present in the United States.”