Last year, when hundreds of immigrants were arrested in Arizona for the felony of smuggling themselves into the country, I thought perhaps I'd seen the worst possible abuse of the much-abused phrase "human trafficking." After reading this excellent piece on African resentment toward Europe, I'm not so sure:
Outrage over the number of Africans who die while trying to reach Europe by boat, when all other routes of legal immigration are blocked by law, continues unabated. In the course of 2007, some 1,861 migrants died trying to cross into Europe by sea, according to the Italian monitoring organization Fortress Europe. This is only a slight improvement upon 2006, when the number of known deaths was 2,088.
Yet no European government feels compelled to act to save these lives. Fishermen from Tunisia and Italy have even been prosecuted for abetting "human trafficking" because they rescued migrants at sea.
To recap: If you move across an international border without permission, you are trafficking yourself. If you try to save someone who intends to move across an international border without permission, you are trafficking that person.