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Family Separation is Impacting Human Trafficking

natasha komen

With all the news in the media on children being removed from their parents at the border it’s important to know how family separation is impacting human trafficking and vise versa.

Before the current administration most families coming to the US for asylum or illegal entry were placed in detention centers with their families, but were often released while their cases were still pending. During this period of time children were also occasionally being separated from the adults they were crossing with. However, when an instance of separation occurred it was because the Border Control felt the adult may not be the child’s parents, and there was risk of that child being trafficked into the US.

The current administration has changed to a “zero tolerance” stance which means adults must go in for criminal custody, but because children aren’t allowed in jail they are seperated. The children are placed in government facilities or short term foster care. While, one could argue that trafficking of children will be theoretically eradicated with this idea it had created a whole new pandora’s box of problems. Abuse has been largely reported in these instances of separation. Parents being told they will never see their children again, and hundreds of children reporting physical, sexual and verbal abuse by Border Control.

Between April 19 and May 31 an average of 46 children a day were being separated. Now that the “zero tolerance” policy is in full affect those numbers have increased to about 65 children a day being separated from their families.

It is the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that takes charge of these children. However, they were backlogged before the increased separation of families and now are even further behind. There have been allegations that ORR is not vetting their sponsors very well. In 2017 the agency reported 7,000 lost teenagers (teenagers they were unable to contact after being released to families). There is a genuine concern some of these children were handed over to traffickers.

Whichever side of the party line you stand on it’s clear the system was imperfect before and definitely is now. There are no numbers or statistics that back up that this new “zero tolerance” policy is curbing illegal entry, meaning children are being separated for no reason. Speak up for the children. It is clear there family separation is impacting human trafficking. Regardless of their origin of country or nationality we do not want to perpetuate human trafficking.

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