Trump team is forcing trafficking victims back into danger

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Despite claiming to care about human trafficking, Trump is forcing more victims back into danger and prosecuting fewer of their traffickers.

When Trump was trying to make the case for his pointless, racist border wall, he frequently invoked the plight of human trafficking victims, telling frightening tales about women being kidnapped and smuggled over the border and arguing that a wall would somehow stop this from happening.

But when he wasn't using trafficking as an excuse to build his border wall, Trump turned his back on the victims he claimed to care about while his administration took steps to "frustrate, intimidate and deport" trafficking victims in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

For nearly two decades, foreign-born victims of human trafficking have been eligible to apply for humanitarian visas under a special program that allows trafficking victims to stay and work in the U.S.

Over the past 10 years, more than two-thirds of applicants for the trafficking victim visa program have been approved, according to the Post.

Many of the applicants were granted permission to stay in the U.S. in exchange for testifying against their traffickers, meaning that the program has not only helped provide refuge for those in danger, but it has also helped put those responsible for human trafficking behind bars.

However, since Trump took office, the approval rate for trafficking victim visas has been cut in half, with only about a third of applicants being approved for a visa, the Post reports.

More applicants were denied visas last year than any year since the program was established, and the backlog of pending applications has more than doubled since just two years ago.

The effect is that trafficking victims — many of whom face ongoing threats and/or violence from their traffickers — are forced back into danger, while their traffickers are less likely to face justice.

According to the Post, the number of new trafficking cases prosecuted by the Justice Department during the Trump administration's first full year in office fell by about 20 percent from the previous year.

"The administration appears to view trafficking as a convenient tool to justify its border policies, rather than as a human tragedy to be seriously addressed," said Martina Vandenberg, head of the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center.

Next time Trump invokes the plight of trafficking victims as an excuse to build his border wall, remember that their plight is far more dire because of his own administration's actions.

Published with permission of The American Independent.