What have we learned from American history that can help draft the new constitutional amendments?

Written by: Emily Sanders

American history has taught us that making New Amendments to the constitution doesn’t necessarily mean the new amendments will be upheld in exactly the way they are originally intended. Constitutional rights are consistently being disregarded and applied to certain individuals who are viewed as “deserving.” I think “we” as a people respect our constitution, but that’s a very general view. If you were to take every amendment and ask every person in America if the amendment applies to every single US citizen, or SHOULD apply to every single US citizen I bet you would get very different answers.

What about our 13th amendment? If slavery was abolished then why are there men, women, and children being targeted and deceived by smugglers every day? Slavery is not abolished, it has not gone away, and it remains alive in some very dark places in our country. Why aren’t we protecting the slaves of America today? Why aren’t we standing up and fighting for their rights?

Human Trafficking is a major violation of Human Rights. America always seems to have such a vested interest in other countries, defending what’s right and protecting the innocent people of the world who can’t protect themselves because of terrorism or war. It would be obvious to me that we should put some of the power we put into fighting to help other oppressed people into the oppressed in our own country. Citizens or not, the victims are human, and shouldn’t be swept aside only viewed as another statistic.

Human trafficking is now being called “Modern Day Slavery. More than 18,000 people are being trafficked into the United States a year. The smugglers will demand anywhere from $5,000-$75,000 per person to be smuggled into the US. They are coerced here with promises of a better future. The victims are told they will be free to go to school, get a good education, and make the kind of money they could only dream of from where they come from. Predominately poor uneducated men, women and children are targeted. When they arrive in the US they are immediately told they owe a debt and until that debt is paid they aren’t free. The smugglers have no intention of ever “freeing” these people and they are left in a country with no way of leaving because the smugglers make sure to take their passports and any legal identification they had before entering the US. Our amendments to the constitution are these:

  1. Trafficking victims have a right to go home. They will be granted new passports and a ticket home upon verification of their identity.
  2. If the government is unable to verify where the trafficking victim came from and is not able to contact any family who will help identify the victim then we will work to protect the victim. They will be put into a safe home where they will get a basic education with a specific trade. They will be granted amnesty into the United States.

While I can state that the US government hasn’t always been the most trustworthy in upholding our constitutional rights I can also argue that history has shown we can help these victims. We have the power to create the story that will end this horrible crisis.

Our general perception and belief is that this isn’t an issue in the US, it’s a 3rd world country issue. While that is partly true, the other truth is it’s basically going on in our backyard. We see movies, documentaries, and TV shows that depict Human Trafficking as a problem “somewhere else.” I know personally I’ve watched shows that characterize this as a predominately Asian issue. There are many Asian victims of smugglers but there are also many more from other countries from around the world and the vast majority are smuggled here.

Because of the media our frame of reference becomes skewed and watching this happening in other countries makes it easy to turn a blind eye to it in our own. We have shown that with hard work and persistence we can change. By applying meaning-making and understanding what is going on in the world around us we can finally begin to change what is wrong. Using clear and thoughtful problem solving analysis we can start helping the victims of Human Trafficking.

Smugglers target the uneducated, the poor, and the helpless. They have a belief that they have the power and control. Maybe that’s true to some extent, but it doesn’t have to be the master narrative forever. The story doesn’t’ have to end with our hands in the air assuming there’s nothing that can be done .

If we can change our perception and beliefs, that this is a human problem, not a poor people problem or another countries problem, then we can start a social movement to end Human Trafficking. The US has applied meaning-making throughout history in many different social movements to stop Human Rights violations. So we can do this, it’s just going to take the right people, the ones who have the passion and drive to want to begin the revolution that will stop Human Trafficking.

We have the power and privilege as free people to help the oppressed people of the world. We have freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Two very powerful tools that help to make people aware of problems that they may not be aware of or think have any importance in their lives to care. We are an educated intelligent country and should use the resources we have to change the future of our country by helping the victims of smugglers. We have the power as a nation to implement the process of meaning-making and give it power in order to make new perceptions which turn into new beliefs that can ultimately uphold the new constitutional amendments.

Sex Trafficking Art Installation, Trafalgar Square

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What have we learned from American history that can help draft the new constitutional amendments?

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