How Immigration Policy Hurts Anti–Human Trafficking Efforts

“We need to be tough on crime. We need to crack down on illegal immigration.”

Such is the rallying cry of President Donald Trump and many Republicans in particular. That rallying cry is part of why the government is shut down over the issue of a wall, as of the time of my writing this.

But it’s not just a Trump, Republican, or conservative thing to be tough on immigration. I say that because Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, saw more people deported in his eight years than every 20th century President of the United States combined. And through it all, many Democrats seemed not to care, pay attention, and/or say anything. This tough approach to illegal immigration includes people who like to view themselves as “bleeding-heart liberals.”

The consequences of this tough approach are disastrous for efforts to combat human trafficking.

One example of tough immigration policy hurting anti–human trafficking efforts is with President Trump’s policy with people who get denied a “T visa.” A T visa is a visa that allows victims of human trafficking, regardless of immigration status, to stay in the United States, to work, and to access benefits; people can do all of this while working with law enforcement on their human trafficking cases. People who have been denied T visas in the past were generally still allowed to stay in the United States without any problem. However, under this administration, there is now a new set of guidelines that endangers trafficked individuals: “But under the new guidelines, denial of a T visa will trigger an automatic summons for a hearing before an immigration judge — known as a ‘notice to appear.’ Legal experts say such a notice effectively marks the start of the deportation process.” To make matters worse, it has simultaneously been made more difficult than before for victims of human trafficking to receive T visas.[1] The consequence of such a tough approach to trafficked individuals who are undocumented is disastrous, according to many experts, because it creates a reluctance for trafficked victims to come forward. This reluctance to come forward, which is the result of tough immigration policy such as this, only helps traffickers and hurts the trafficked.

The T visa debacle, however, is only part of an anti-migrant stance of Presidents Trump and Obama that has hurt efforts to combat human trafficking. Denise Brennan, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said that, “The dirty little secret about trafficking in this environment of 2.5 million deportations under President Obama and now President Trump’s obvious anti-migrant stance is there has not been a political will to really find people. I just don’t think we’ve been looking for trafficked people.”[2] The Global Slavery Index, which is a global study of modern-day slavery conditions by country, likewise gave a stern rebuke of modern American immigration policy: “A survey of service providers conducted by Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), Freedom Network USA, and Polaris in 2017 found that new immigration enforcement policies and practices are increasing their clients’ vulnerability to human trafficking.”[3] Talk that is tough on migrants and supportive of walls may score political points, but it certainly does not seem to help any efforts on human trafficking. Once again, that is of benefit to traffickers and of hurt to the trafficked.

Granted, not all victims of human trafficking in the United States are illegal immigrants. As a result, issues with combatting human trafficking go well beyond confronting immigration issues. Nevertheless, one who is passionate about human trafficking issues would want to do everything possible on all fronts to reduce human trafficking, and that includes dealing with immigration policies that hurt the nation’s efforts in addressing human trafficking.

It may be politically popular at times to be tough on illegal immigration, and politically unpopular to relax certain stances on illegal immigration and deportations. However, sometimes the best thing to do is the unpopular thing to do. In this case, maybe the best thing to do is to change policies on immigration enforcement so that the United States does not create an even greater problem with trafficking.


[1] https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/09/new-us-policy-raises-risk-of-deportation-for-immigrant-victims-of-trafficking-immigration-visa/

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/trafficking-conference-immigration-idUSL1N1HS1T2

[3] https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/country-studies/united-states/

17 Replies to “How Immigration Policy Hurts Anti–Human Trafficking Efforts”

  1. I would think the self proclaimed Christians who are supporting tRump so fiercely would be more interested in saving trafficked victims. However that is not as glorious for them as praising themself for being able to helping get rid of anti discrimination laws and making the US a theocracy of their own brand of religion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Scottie-I think that human trafficking is just an issue that a lot of people don’t really think about, and that might be part of why the interest isn’t there. Maybe if more people thought about this issue and realized this issue, then there would be more interest among the aforementioned groups in wanting to confront it. I might be too hopeful or charitable in what I’m saying, though. (I probably am)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you are being to charitable. These same people couldn’t care that kids were being ripped from their mothers arms, kids were kept in cages, kids were mistreated in facilities, and two children have died one from a lack of being given anything to drink. They did not care about these things mostly because the kids were brown, but also because their demigod tRump is looking the other way while they infiltrate every level of our government in an attempt to enshrine their religious doctrine in the laws of the land. As long as they can make the US their own religious compound forcing the rest of us to honor their mythical god and their ideas of how we should live, they would rent out rooms for kids to be sexually abuse in and look the other way. IMO. There hypoxcary tends to tick me off pretty badly. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s also true. As I said, I was probably being too hopeful or charitable (because while a large part of me is a realist, a small part of me wants to be an optimist).

        Many of the Fox News/Trump types, when discussing these kids locked up in cages or the kids who died, spoke as if their parents in particular “asked for it.” It makes me wonder if the same attitude would prevail with undocumented immigrants who’ve been trafficked. Optimistically, I’d hope that it’s just an issue of not being aware and that if people were aware, attitudes would be sympathetic to the trafficked. Realistically, you’re probably right that I’m being too optimistic/charitable.

        I think it’s an important distinction to make that this discussion on immigration has centered around people of certain skin color and religion. This discussion has not been about Christian immigrants, European immigrants, or even immigrants from most of Asia. This has been about immigrants from Mexico and Central America, as well as Muslim immigrants. There is absolutely racism and Islamophobia in the way many discuss this issue.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love that you are optimistic, we need that today. You are correct that immigration is based on skin color as today it has come out that there have been 6 people on the special interest list to come across the southern border, not terrorists but special interest but 41 one such people have been detained coming over the northern border with Canada. Yet that is not an emergency with this administration. Could it be the majority of people in the Northern country are white, and the majority people in the southern country are brown? Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Interesting! Honestly, I didn’t know that more people of special interest have come from Canada than from Mexico. But now I know. I learned something. In that case, maybe the “crisis” is that most people coming across at the southern border are people of color. (which of course is not a crisis to me, but may be a crisis to Trump types)

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I knew about the northern border because my adoptive parents were Canadian citizens living in the US for most of their lives. They had green cards. They often took me to Canada to visit their family. They had to show their green cards on coming back to the US but as I was a US citizen I had no need for identification. It was only in the last decade that I would need any ID at the Canadian border. As a young person in my 20’s I would often go across the border and return needing only my drivers licence. I heard from all my adoptive parents family about how long and unguarded the northern border was. In fact there are places where the border is not well defined, where the center of roads in towns are in fact the border. The people living in these town never cared about what side of the road you were on. Now it is different. Many of these towns have been torn apart by the tRump administration due to their insistence on hard borders. People crossing the road as they have done all their lives have been stopped and harassed by US border patrol agents. Why? It makes no sense. Recently this summer there was a french woman visiting Canadian relatives who lived on the border of the US Canadian border on the west coast. She went out jogging down the beach on the water. She was arrested and detained for two weeks by the US border agents. Despite her explaining to them she had not know she had crossed into the US they arrested her. There was no sign on the border on the beach. However to make a point of being assholes they arrested her and they refused for over a week to let her contact her family. Then even after both Canada and France complained and gave official proof of her citizenship and her official status as a visitor the border patrol refused to release her. It was only when Canada said they would shut down the borders between them and the US and file an official complaint with the US government did the US release the woman. Three weeks she spent in detention for jogging on a beach because the US has become fascist. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Goodness me. I didn’t know about any of this. I knew that there was a ton of drama going on at the southern border, but I had no idea that this was going on at the northern border, too. That can offer some trickiness because there are whole entities and communities that pride themselves on being on both sides of the border. It’s hard to have a wall or strict enforcement with such circumstances, though it sounds like the Trump administration is trying as hard as they could! This topic of the northern border may be an idea for a future blog post (maybe). Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on The Rose Project and commented:
    This article represents other ways of how the country is trying to stop human trafficking in the united states. With multiple ways of prevention, we can come to a state of having minimal children taken away.

    Liked by 1 person

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