Watch on CNN: Lori Cohen, Director of Sanctuary’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative, respond to President Trump’s statements: https://cnn.it/2TjrAZp
Throughout his presidency, President Trump has repeatedly brought up human trafficking as he argues in favor of building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. The majority of his statements on the subject, however, have been either misleading or unfounded.
At Sanctuary for Families, we know from our clients’ experiences and from fellow anti-trafficking experts across the country that the reality of modern-day slavery is different from that described by the President. For this reason, we’re debunking five of the President’s most frequent claims about human trafficking:
1. Trump’s Claim: Human trafficking cannot be stopped without a steel barrier or concrete wall.
Many women and children attempting to cross the border are fleeing sexual violence and trafficking in their own countries, and seeking asylum in the U.S. — Shutting them out of our country makes them more vulnerable to exploitation.
2. Building a wall at the border will keep traffickers out of the United States.
Many U.S. citizens are involved in the sex trade and traffickers entering the U.S. through the southern border often do so lawfully.
3. Stricter immigration policies and tighter border security will stop human trafficking.
In the U.S., immigrants — particularly those who are undocumented — are at a much higher risk of exploitation than nonimmigrants.
By criminalizing immigrant communities, President Trump’s policies are pushing trafficking survivors deeper into the shadows and limiting law enforcement’s ability to investigate trafficking-related crimes.
4. Undocumented immigrants are criminals and bring violence to our communities.
Studies have shown that undocumented immigrants are considerably less likely to commit crimes compared to U.S.-born citizens.
In reality, most undocumented people crossing the southern border are fleeing horrific violence, including gender violence and sex trafficking, in their home countries.
5. Trafficking victims are immigrants from other countries who have been brought here unlawfully.
A very large number of victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation in this country are U.S. citizens and never cross any borders at all.
Building the wall will not stop human trafficking. If President Trump really wanted to protect trafficking victims, he would listen to experts, push for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and increase the number of available T visas.