Slavery in America isn’t dead. It’s actually a thriving industry, cashing in more than $8 million a year. And New York has no law prohibiting this slavery. Nearly 20,000 victims are sold and trafficked every year for purposes of sexploitation. Humans — traded as a commodity, as if bought and sold on the stock exchange.

We know that sex trafficking happens in other parts of the world, yet we don’t think it’s happening in our backyard. We promise the “American Dream,” but we also hold the title of second highest destination in the world for trafficked women. Women are trafficked into the U.S. from Asia, Central and South American, Russia and Eastern Europe — their lives sold for $2,000 (at most) to the predators who buy them.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) says human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the world, right behind drugs and gun smuggling. Sex traffickers lure hundreds of thousands of desperate girls from overseas with the promise of a new life, only to enslave them once they’ve arrived. Some are simply abducted or driven to trafficking by poverty. For most of these girls, staying alive means working as a prostitute or stripping at a local bar. The average age of a sex slave is just 11 years.