Immigration narratives personify DACA, border policies and trafficking

Patricia Gonzalez, 26, spreads awareness about the issue of sex trafficking. April 10, 2019 (Casey Paul/CU Independent)

Editors note: The panel titled “Human trafficking and social reintegration of victims” was originally presented in Spanish. Below are English and Spanish translations of the article.

“We’re in a pretty extreme time,” said Associate Professor of political science and immigration law Ming Hsu Chen.

The troubles immigrants face were discussed from numerous perspectives during the University of Colorado Boulder’s annual Conference on World Affairs, the week-long event which brings voices from around the world to discuss contemporary issues. CWA was held from April 9 to April 13 this year.

Chen’s comments came from the panel “Is the New DACA Policy Constitutional?”, a session which graduate student Michael Kuperman attended in hopes of learning more about immigration issues.

“Migration is a symptom of an underlying issue that we maybe don’t think about that often, like climate refugees,” Kuperman said. “We need to focus on the ‘whys’ of migration rather than hating the people.”

A large crowd at the “New Age of DACA” panel (Ryan Corbett/CU Independent)

For New York Times national immigration correspondent Miriam Jordan, her work attempts to do just that. During the panel “Searching for a Better Life: Stories of Migrants, Refugees and Immigrants”, Jordan read from her profile on a young boy from Honduras named José, who was separated from his father as a result of President Trump’s border policy.

Director of International Projects, Research and Development for the Migrant Clinicians Network Deliana Garcia added that José’s story “was repeated 2,634 times,” in reference to the separation of families that occurred at the border last April.

The harrowing experiences of migrants were expanded upon in the panel “Human Trafficking and Social Reintegration of Victims.”

Patricia Gonzalez, an activist and lawyer against human exploitation, remembers being trafficked at the age of 17. Born in Mexico, Gonzalez’s trafficking came with the promise of love and marriage from what she believed to be her “Principe Azul”, Pedro.

“He had me meet his family and proposed marriage,” Gonzalez said. “Then when we moved away, he asked me to work to help pay bills, and then he asked if I would be a table dancer. It just went downhill from there.”

Raised from the age of six-months by her now deceased grandmother, and with no mother or father, Gonzalez had no idea how vulnerable she was.

“Traffickers look for vulnerability and everyone is susceptible,” Gonzalez said. “Many think that it only happens to the poor, but it can happen to anyone regardless of country or class.”

According to Gonzalez, only two percent of people involved in trafficking survive. Most are either murdered by traffickers, their clients, suicide or have disappeared.

She was rescued within the same year of being trafficked during a police sting. Reintegra, an organization which helps victims of sex trafficking escape, and Fundacion Camino Casa (The Road Home) aided in her rehabilitation. El Centro Amistad of Boulder also works with these organizations and helped bring Gonzalez to the conference with the goal of improving immigrant rights in Boulder.

For attendee Steve Ward, Gonzalez’s story helped “personify the problem.”

“Human trafficking sounds bad, but to have someone personify it makes it personal, it brings it home,” Ward said.

Gonzalez emphasized the importance of teaching youth at home that no one has the right to have dominion over anyone, even with the promise of love, work or fame. Victims, she said, need to know that something good can come out of something bad. Gonzalez finished her talk with her favorite quote and life mission:

“If I can help one person have hope, my life has not been lived in vain.”

Original text in Spanish: 

“He dedicado mi vida al activismo, a ser una voz para los que no tienen voz.”

Este fue el tema general de la vida y charla de Patricia González, sobre el tema de la trata de personas, como parte de la Conferencia de Asuntos Mundiales del 10 de abril de 2019. Nacida en México, activista y abogada contra la explotación humana, González fue víctima de trata sexual a la edad de 17 años con la promesa de amor y matrimonio de quien ella creía que era su “Príncipe Azul” Pedro. En realidad, era un plan no solo para traficar a las mujeres jóvenes sino que también era un negocio familiar.

“Me hizo conocer a su familia y me propuso matrimonio”, dijo González. “Luego, cuando nos mudamos, me pidió que trabajara para ayudar a pagar las cuentas, y luego me preguntó si sería bailarina de mesa.”

Lo que González no se dio cuenta de era su ingenuidad es que estaba siendo traficada. Criada por su abuela recientemente fallecida desde los 6 meses de edad, y sin madre ni padre, González no tenía idea de lo vulnerable que era.

“Los traficantes buscan la vulnerabilidad y todos son susceptibles. Muchos piensan que solo les pasa a los pobres, pero le puede pasar a cualquiera sin importar el país o la clase,” dijo González.

Fue rescatada en el mismo año de haber sido objeto de trata en una trampa policial y con la ayuda de una organización llamada Reintegra que busca ayudar a las víctimas de la trata de personas con fugas, y otra organización mexicana local llamada Fundación Camino Casa que ayuda a rehabilitar a víctimas que brindan atención médica y psicológica, les dan esperanza y objetivos para los que puedan trabajar para ayudar a restablecer una nueva vida. El Centro Amistad de Boulder también trabaja con estas organizaciones y ayudó a traer a González a la conferencia. También trata de mejorar a los derechos de los inmigrantes en Boulder.

“Ella personificó el problema. El tráfico de personas suena mal, pero tener a alguien que lo personifique, lo hace personal, lo lleva a casa,” dijo un miembro del audiencia Steve Ward.

“Solo el 2% en el tráfico sobrevive, (en México) son asesinadas por traficantes, o sus clientes, o se suiciden o se desaparecidos,” dijo González.

González afirma la importancia de enseñar a los jóvenes en el hogar que nadie tiene derecho a tener dominio sobre nadie, ni siquiera con la promesa de amor, trabajo o fama. Las víctimas necesitan saber que algo bueno puede salir de algo malo. González terminó su charla con su cita favorita y su misión en la vida:

“Si puedo ayudar a una persona a tener esperanza, mi vida no se ha vivido en vano.”

Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Valeria Fugate at 

Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Veniece Miller at

Breaking News Editor Anna Haynes contributed reporting to this article. 

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