Human trafficking is real in Michigan.

April 9, 2015
Sen. Judy Emmons

Sen. Judy Emmons

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

HAMLIN TWP. — Human trafficking in the State of Michigan is not an issue isolated to urban issues. It is an issue that affects all areas of the state. It is a cause that State Sen. Judy Emmons has taken on as her mission.

Emmons spoke Thursday night during the Mason County Republican Party’s annual Linocln Day dinner at Lincoln Hills Golf Club.

She said Michigan is a target state because it has international boundaries. Places that are hotspots for human trafficking in Michigan are Flint, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Port Huron and even Mackinaw Island. She said Mackinaw Island has a small airport and is a place where people will least expect trafficking. She said Toledo, Ohio is also a hub for human trafficking.

Emmons has been instrumental in working to change the statute of limitations for human trafficking crimes from 6 years to 25 years. She told the story of a woman who lived in Birmingham and was a teenage sex slave. Though the woman, as a teenager, lived in a white collar middle class family, she was blackmailed as a 15-year-old by a group that Emmons said continues, decades later, to traffic women to affluent homes.

Human traffickers will hang out in places where kids hang out like skate parks or malls. “They will look for groups of three,” she said. “They usually go for the girl in the middle, the one who isn’t the most attractive or the one who is least attractive… They are master psychologists. They know what to say.”

Sen. Emmons said that first responders and workers who go into people’s homes need to be trained to look for the signs of human trafficking.

Emmons said speaking during the Lincoln Day dinner was rather appropriate because President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and was an advocate for women having the right to vote. She said there are more slaves now than when it was legal. There are 27 million people in slavery today; $13,000 a year is generated annually from “forced labor,” a number that can often be $67,200 a year. Michigan has the fifth highest amount of children and adults who are trafficked.

She has worked on other laws that have strengthened crimes related to human trafficking, such as deferred sentencing, allowing victims to sue, providing medical and psychological treatment for victims, the creation of a human trafficking health advisory board, training for medical professions, updating kidnapping laws, stronger sentences for those caught in underground operations among many others. See for more information.

“What we do know is that every individual. It’s a human condition, everybody wants to be valued by somebody… I believe our challenge is our family structure and the strength of our families. It’s going to take all of this to address.”

Sen. Emmons will be speaking again in Mason County, on Monday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Scottville Wesleyan Church at the corner of U.S. 10-31 and Quarterline Road in Amber Township.