Eric Ruark's picture


  by  Eric Ruark

Human trafficking unfortunately is a topic to which politicians and members of the corporate media give too little attention.

There are occasional stories detailing individual cases, and generally the circumstances are indeed heart-wrenching, but these are usually used as arguments defending sanctuary policies, supporting another amnesty, or against the detention of illegal border crossers.

Those who advocate for effective action to combat human trafficking understand that this entails securing the U.S. border and strictly enforcing immigration laws across the board. Those who are against border security and immigration enforcement while claiming to oppose human trafficking are, in fact, supporting policies that encourage that very practice.

One of the defining characteristics of the immigration policy debate is just how shallow are the arguments put forth by those who excuse illegal immigration. Jeb Bush is a typical example, though he is far from alone in this regard.

Jeb famously said during the 2016 Republican presidential primary that illegal immigration was an “act of love.”

The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally ... and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work, to be able to provide for their family, yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony [repeat entry is a felony]. It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that is a different kind of crime.

Jeb’s positions on immigration were very unpopular with voters, which is one of the reasons he was never a serious contender for president. Jeb’s statement about illegal immigration being laudable is easy to deride as one made by a politician out of touch with American voters; one who is trying to turn support for the flow of illegal, low-wage labor demanded by his donors into a positon of moral superiority. Illegal aliens shouldn’t be held accountable simply for “loving too much," Jeb argued.

It's much worse than that. Jeb glibly brushes aside the dangerous and exploitative nature of illegal immigration, while failing to acknowledge that immigration limits are necessary and must be enforced. The constant campaign for amnesty by the Bushs, the Clintons, the Bidens, etc., send a clear messages to people around the world that illegal immigration is worth the risk, and so the exploitation continues.

As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden spoke very little publicly about his immigration plan and he avoided the topic in the debates (why Trump didn't make immigration a core issue of his 2020 campaign given that he ran and won on it in 2016 is still a mystery). Biden now promises that he will reverse President Trump’s policies at the southern border and said “Within 100 days, I’m going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people." What Biden has not said is that he will work to end illegal immigration.

Biden, too, seeks to occupy the moral high ground, and some Americans surely do agree with him that we “owe” amnesty to illegal aliens, despite their law-breaking. But no one should deny that the policies advocated by Biden, who is calling for amnesty and less security at the border, are going to result in the continued exploitation of illegal aliens and more human trafficking. Saying "America is a nation of laws" is meaningless when the President of the United States fails to faithfully execute laws he finds politically disadvantageous. This only undermines the rule of law citizens' faith in their government; and results in the continuing victimization of citizens and aliens alike.

Just last week, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) highlighted its campaign to combat human trafficking.

Every day, HSI agents around the globe work to uncover, dismantle and disrupt human trafficking. They come face to face with the worst of humanity – traffickers profiting off the forced labor and commercial sex of their victims using physical and sexual abuse, threats of harm and deportation, false promises, economic and psychological manipulation, and cruelty.

Human trafficking victims have been found in communities nationwide in the agriculture, hospitality, restaurant, domestic work and other industries, as well as in prostitution that is facilitated online, on the street, or in businesses fronting for prostitution such as massage parlors.

HSI said that in FY2019 it initiated 1,204 investigations into human trafficking, recorded 2,197 arrests, and identified 428 victims. Given the magnitude of the problem, there are undoubtedly many more victims out there, and many more perpetrators who are shielded by sanctuary policies at the state and local levels, and by a federal government unwilling to to devote the necessary resources to deal with a problem obvious to everyone. (Here's the tip-line to call if you suspect or have information about human trafficking: 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ).

Those in power have no excuse for their ineffectualness. It's well-known that cartels control the Mexican side of the U.S. border, as is the brutality of “coyotes” who smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. Human trafficking, including child trafficking, is big business for these criminals, and is allowed to occur in large measure because those in charge of making and enforcing immigration laws won’t take adequate steps to prevent it.

A Senate investigation found in early 2016 that:

The Obama administration failed to protect thousands of Central American children who have flooded across the U.S. border since 2011, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers and to abuses at the hands of government-approved caretakers, a Senate investigation has found….It detailed nearly 30 cases where unaccompanied children had been trafficked after federal officials released them to sponsors or where there were ‘serious trafficking indicators.’

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to do proper background checks of adults who claimed the children, allowed sponsors to take custody of multiple unrelated children, and regularly placed children in homes without visiting the locations, according to a 56-page investigative report released Thursday.

Congress has done nothing to prevent this from happening again and actually refused to work with the Trump Administration to address the problem. President Trump could have, and should have, provided more leadership on the issue, but he did put in place policies that made trafficking more difficult. The incoming Biden Administration indicates these polices will be rescinded.

Human traffickers will continue take advantage of a porous U.S. borders and lax interior enforcement as long as the U.S. government allows them to. Biden has said he will do more as President to combat the problem. Let’s hope that’s true, but staffing his administration with many of the same people who did virtually nothing on this front when he was vice-president is a very bad beginning. Further, prioritizing a large-scale amnesty while instituting a moratorium on deportations is an open invitation to traffickers. Unless Biden alters his plan, there is no reason to believe he will live up to his word.

Human trafficking in the United States will continue until those with the power to prevent it decide that doing so is more important than the political and economic benefits they derive from allowing it to go on.

ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, Jan 28th 2021 @ 11:10pm EST

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