An unsecured border is an open pathway for human trafficking, and this could be the strongest but most neglected argument to convince skeptics of the need for regulated immigration. When we turn a blind eye to those crossing the borders, we are ignoring the criminal activity of human trafficking. Individuals who were promised freedom get exploited and abused, sold into labor and prostitution. Often proponents of tough immigration laws are accused of lacking compassion, but there is no compassion in ignoring the smuggling and trading of human beings, nor in protecting traffickers or inhibiting investigations with sanctuary cities. If the left cares about human trafficking, they need to recognize that illegal immigrants are especially vulnerable and unenforced law does not help them.
The promises and policies of the Obama administration made easy targets for human traffickers, and the lack of immigration enforcement was an enabler. Human trafficking is profitable and with lessened border enforcement, it was easier.
The influx of unaccompanied minors across the southern border between 2011 and 2016 was met with no resistance under the Obama Administration. The Washington Post reported on the difficulty in tracking these children. One official conceded that “identity requirements” for those claiming to be family members of the children were “relaxed” to place the children more quickly. The children were released to individuals who were not assuredly verified as relatives, and with limited follow-up, if any. Such an acknowledgment would seem to indicate complicity in trafficking, or at the least, pure negligence. Legal advocates for the minors said the children faced abuse, and sometimes vanished. This is how Guatemalan teens ended up being held captive as forced labor on an egg farm. That discovery is what prompted Senator Rob Portman to launch an investigation. The Washington Post highlighted the findings of the report by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the DHHS) which stated the minors were placed with shady caretakers. The DHHS failed to properly vet the sponsors and allowed them to avoid oversight by caseworkers.
Why wasn't this a core focus of those trying secure the border? It seems that the mainstream media interest in human trafficking as a result of Obama policy was largely absent. In the midst of pro-illegal immigrant reporting, such a story fell to the wayside. However, it's the lack of consistent discourse on illegal immigration and human trafficking on the right that is notable and concerning. It's not that it doesn't exist, only that often it is drowned out by other concerns in the immigration debate. Advocates for tightening immigration appeared to favor cultural and economic arguments, but setting aside the human trafficking situation gave Obama and the Democrats a huge pass in accountability. More so, it permitted a horrible consequence to go uncovered.
The Trump Administration has vowed to combat human trafficking. Let's hope it is sincere, and policy toward immigration does not ignore it.
The Heritage Foundation
“The Human Tragedy of Illegal Immigration: Greater Efforts Needed to Combat Smuggling and Violence”
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