Thank heavens Republicans, Democrats, and the President were able to come to an agreement to at least temporarily reopen government, even if it is only for three weeks. At least the 800, 000 workers who have gone without pay will not only now go back to paying jobs, but will also receive very much needed backpay. Our prayers continue for them and their families.
In his remarks about this temporary agreement, though, President Trump used his time to make yet another pitch for the Wall. Well, we’ve heard his claims over and over again, and in this blog (as well as many other blogs and outlets), these claims have been reviewed … mostly. One that I personally have overlooked, however, has been his claim that thousands of human trafficking victims are smuggled across our southern border.
My apologies go out to the President and his supporters for this tragic oversight. Human trafficking is an extremely horrible problem involving tens of thousands of individuals “trafficked into the U. S. yearly,” according to the U. S. Department of State. And, indeed, the “Department of State also expresses that Mexico is the primary country of origin
for trafficking victims…” So, we do have a problem here, no doubt about it.
The U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency recently reported:
In fiscal year 2016, HSI initiated 1,029 investigations with a nexus to human trafficking and recorded 1,952 arrests, 1,176 indictments, and 631 convictions; 435 victims were identified and assisted.
Impressive though this is, when comparing the above figures with the total number of individuals being trafficked into the country annually, we clearly have an awful lot of work to do, including better securing our southern border. How is this best achieved, though? Is the President correct in surmising that a strong, tall border wall from “sea to shining sea” will almost completely cut out human trafficking into the United States?
Several important factors in combatting human trafficking from Mexico involves Mexico itself, that is: Need for increased awareness, the strengthening of anti-trafficking laws, greater dedication to the enforcement of those laws, more compassionate response to and support of victims, and other necessary changes. Beyond this, though, there are some actions the United States can take.
According to Human Rights Along the U.S.-Mexico Border, which is a compilation of articles written on the subject, there needs to be “a comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policy so that more people can come to the U.S. legally, instead of risking their lives and their livelihoods upon entrance.” The proponents of this idea also argue for “more effective usage and promotion of T-Visas.”
Another source, “Prostitution and Trafficking of Women and Children from Mexico to the United States,” argues that U.S. policies need specific improvements, including amending the requirement that “the burden of proof falls on the victims to show evidence of force, fraud, or coercion,” increasing victim services, and building stronger bilateral approaches with Mexico.
Another possible solution to this admittedly tragic problem is to build a wall along the Mexican border, which is just what President Trump has proposed as an almost fail-proof deterrent to illegal crossings … so the claim goes. However, Dr. Alexandra Still of Pepperdine University notes that “this option also is expensive, would take years to complete, and most likely would not be effective.” She continues to explain:
Migrants who are desperate to come to the U.S. … will find a way to continue coming … (so) this wall could prove useless in time. Furthermore, if this policy option did, in fact, lower levels of trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico, it would also trap people in vulnerable situations in Mexico, and it might increase trafficking between Mexico and other countries. This option violates all three criteria because it does not protect vulnerable persons, it is not enforceable, and it could increase tensions between the two countries.
Doubtless debate will continue on how best to counter human trafficking, but there are probably better options than building an extremely expensive wall that might ultimately prove ineffective anyway. For now, each of us should be both aware and vigilant. If you are in the United States and notice any suspicious activity in your community, call the ICE Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. For more information visit https://www.ice.gov/features/human-trafficking
Also of interest, and consulted for this article, is Pepperdine Policy Review: Solving Human Trafficking Between Mexico and the United States by Alexandra Still.