Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Abigail Stepnitz


Executive Summary

In the Post 9/11 era, where American security is intimately linked to a militarized border management system designed to protect the United States and its territories from threats of terrorism, illegal drugs, and illegal immigration, the media continues to perpetuate the 'Latino Threat Narrative'. The images and information offered to us for consumption help us construct an understanding of events, people, and places. This paper explores how the 'Latino Threat Narrative' and inherent gender biases shape how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) understands vulnerability and identifies human trafficking victims, particularly men and boys from Mexico and Central America who are victims of forced criminality. Drawing on current literature and by conducting a content analysis of human trafficking training and awareness materials made publicly available on the website of the Department of Homeland Security, this paper seeks to explain how and why men and boys are looked upon with suspicion as criminals and are overlooked as victims of human trafficking and forced criminality. It concludes by offering recommendations for improving the reporting procedures, as well as best practices for raising awareness.