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Joe Biden tells supporters he intends to run in the 2020 presidential election. Also, on the Wednesday rundown: A landmark bill in California would ban toxic chemicals in cosmetics; and, groups sue to end disease-spreading elk feeding.

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More Cases of Human Trafficking Reported in N.Y., U.S.

More cases of human trafficking are being reported across the country and in New York. (Tamás Varjú/
More cases of human trafficking are being reported across the country and in New York. (Tamás Varjú/
February 1, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. – More cases of human trafficking are being reported – and that could be a good thing.

A new study by Polaris, an anti-trafficking group, shows a rise in reported cases in New York and nationwide.

The study, which relied on data from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, found that the Empire State ranked fifth for reported cases in 2015.

Vanessa Chauhan, a program specialist with Polaris, says the study doesn't mean human trafficking is on the rise, but possibly that more people are aware of it and know how to alert authorities.

"We get a lot of calls from community members, from survivors of trafficking directly, from NGO representatives,” she points out. “So individuals who may already be working with survivors of trafficking. "

The hotline received 900 calls about human trafficking in New York, involving 281 cases, 10 more than the prior year. Nationally, more than 5,000 cases were reported – up 400 from 2014.

Amy Fleischauer, director of Survivor Services with the International Institute of Buffalo, says many trafficking survivors identified in Western New York were once made to work in low-wage industries such as farms, massage parlors, domestic services and prostitution. She says Buffalo’s location makes it vulnerable to trafficking.

"Because of our proximity to the border we certainly see individuals trafficked through the northern borders,” she explains. “We also have identified a lot of cases where individuals have come through the southern boarders, especially around the farm, restaurant and hotel industries."

Fleischauer says Western New York, being close to Niagra Falls and between New York City and Toronto, is full of tourist traffic, which can create a higher demand for industries that exploit vulnerable people.

Nia Hamm, Public News Service - NY