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The Biden administration is touting its efforts to tackle human trafficking as it marks a month dedicated to tackling global crime – but also amid an ongoing border crisis that critics say is fueling the criminal activity.
âTrafficking in human beings – whether it takes the form of forced labor, sex trafficking or other crimes – is a heinous abuse of power and a deeply immoral crime that undermines safety, health and safety. dignity of millions of people around the world, “said President Biden. in a presidential proclamation to mark National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
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âDuring National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we reaffirm our commitment to protect and empower survivors of all forms of human trafficking, to prosecute traffickers and to end human trafficking. humans in the United States and around the world, âhe said.
“During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, let us resolve to fight injustice and strengthen our commitment to the pursuit of dignity and freedom for all,” the State Department said on Monday on Instagram.
The administration released an updated national action plan to combat trafficking last month. In his proclamation, Biden presented the plan as linking “anti-trafficking initiatives to our broader efforts to tackle illicit financing; advance gender and race equity; expand human rights and dignity. workers; and promote safe, orderly and humane migration “.
The reference to migration recognizes how, as trafficking takes shape in many forms, criminal organizations will use the US-Mexico border as a pipeline to bring people to the United States and subject them to forced labor and other violations. human rights.
The White House’s national plan notes that human trafficking does not require a border (or movement) at all, and that while human trafficking is distinct from human trafficking, “people who are smuggled are vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking and other serious crimes. ”
The report also indicates that Mexico is the first country of origin in human trafficking cases involving foreign victims of which the United States is the destination. He cites recent cases in which young victims were trafficked by companies linked to an area of ââcentral Mexico, then smuggled into the United States and coerced into sex acts in New York, Atlanta and elsewhere in the States. -United.
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The Biden administration has been constantly criticized for the ongoing southern border crisis, which saw hundreds of thousands of meetings each month at its peak. In November, there were more than 174,000 meetings and a total of more than 1.7 million in fiscal year 2021. Critics blamed the administration’s policies for fueling the crisis and have long expressed their concern that it will lead to an increase in criminal activity, including human trafficking.
âThe Biden administration cannot take human trafficking seriously as long as it has an open border, because an open border simply invites more trafficking as the chances of being stopped and caught are much lower when patrolling border crossing is busy with family units at the border, “former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan told Fox News on Tuesday.
The White House plan calls on immigration authorities to improve the screening of all migrants who go through immigration custody or detention for indicators of human trafficking – including prompt referral to them. health and social services for minors suspected of having been trafficked. It is also a priority that immigration protections are in place to ensure that victims of trafficking are not deported.
The plan notes that some victims of human trafficking are legal immigrants with visas that make their immigration status dependent on maintaining employment with that employer – and calls for a review of procedures and possible improvements in visas such as the H-2 temporary worker programs.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a number of actions it was taking, including improving access to immigration assistance programs, improving staff training and initiatives to combat the use of financial systems by traffickers.
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He also indicated that during fiscal year 2021, the number of trafficking cases handled by Immigration and Customs Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) increased from 947 to 1,111, while arrests are increased from 1,746 to 2,360. ICE Enforcement and Deportation (ERO) operations now have human trafficking contact points in every office.
However, Homan said the increase is likely to come from domestic traffic, and he believes traffic crossing the border is missed on a large scale.
“When you don’t take immigration enforcement at the border seriously and you don’t take immigration enforcement inside seriously, human trafficking will increase and a lot of people are going to get away with it because there is no focus on it, âhe said.