Lauren Burke '09 was recently interviewed by the producers of "Following the Snakehead," a documentary film about Chinese child trafficking and human smuggling. Burke, currently a Skadden Fellow working at The Door, an organization that provides development services and support for New York City youths in need, discussed “snakeheads,” a term for human smugglers who transport persons from China into the United States, and the prevalence of human trafficking in the U.S.

An excerpt of Burke’s interview for the film was recently featured on the project’s newly launched blog, chronicling the production of the film. "Human trafficking, regardless of the numbers we have, is really an invisible number,” Burke told the filmmakers. “The U.S. Department of state estimates that 600,000-800,000 are trafficked throughout the world."

Burke, who joined The Door in September 2009 to help young Chinese immigrants who have been or are at risk for being trafficked, explained that often Chinese migrants pay as much as $80,000 to be brought into the U.S., a steep price that leads to insurmountable debt. “Most people identify human trafficking as involving children who are kidnapped,” Burke told the filmmakers. “However, human trafficking can involve people [of all ages] who are brought over to the U.S. by smugglers...and then are forced into slavery or debt bondage through fraud and force." 

Directed by Ethan Downing, the film is a project of No Jacket Required, a New York city-based theater and production company, and is funded in part by Columbia's Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity, and produced by No Jacket Required.

Posted April 8, 2010