Human trafficking is a global business generating $150 billion in illegal profits. It encompasses forced labor, sex trafficking, organ trafficking and more.
President Biden has professed a commitment to fight this multifaceted criminal enterprise, yet his immigration policies have only exacerbated the problem.
Human trafficking increased massively in the last fiscal year. Arrests rose 50%; convictions soared by 80%. The vast majority, 72%, of those trafficked in the U.S. are immigrants. Most of them are here illegally.
Many are women and children who are highly vulnerable to being smuggled and eventually trafficked. A study from the Coalition Against Trafficking In Women estimated that 60% of unaccompanied alien children, or UACs, are caught by cartels and exploited through child pornography and drug trafficking.
To put this into perspective, more than 150,000 UACs crossed into our country last year.
The Biden administration responded by declaring January “National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.” This, of course, did nothing to curb the problem.
That month, 5,882 UACs crossed the border—an increase of more than 80% over the number logged by the Trump administration in January 2020.
The dramatic increase can be traced directly to the Biden administration’s open border policies. On average, over 12,000 UACs are entering the nation monthly in 2023.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has reported over 300,000 alien minor encounters. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that between Jan. 20, 2021, and Feb. 7, 2022, it placed nearly 150,000 unaccompanied children with sponsors in the U.S. It has been estimated that this influx of students will cost school districts an extra $4.6 billion annually.
Rather than attempting to lower these large numbers, the Biden administration has embraced the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in a way calculated to increase them. Section 235 of the act, misleadingly titled “Enhancing Efforts to Combat the Trafficking of Children,” grants UACs special accommodations, such as expedited processing and benefits.
“Not surprisingly, after Congress passed that provision, the number of UACs from non-contiguous countries soared, as parents (and more importantly smugglers) realized that section 235 … all but guaranteed that any such child who could make it illegally into the United States would be released into this country,” said Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Section 235, coupled with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ public statements that “we are not expelling unaccompanied children,” has only enticed more minors into making life-threatening decisions.
The increased flow of UACs increased the demand for “sponsors”—i.e., people willing to house and care for the children so they can be processed out of Health and Human Services housing. To “remedy” this, the administration lowered the standards for sponsors, slashing the vetting process times to meet the deadlines set to meet Mr. Biden’s self-induced emergency.
According to an HHS whistleblower, the lowered standards led to more of these children falling into the hands of cartels, pedophiles and pimps. Many were claimed by “family members” they had never met and then subjected to horrendous conditions.
To curtail human trafficking, especially of children, the Trump administration allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run DNA tests on immigrants claiming to be traveling in “familial units.” This program detected more than 6,000 fraudulent families. But even though the program was effective, Mr. Biden ended it.
The absence of border security, in conjunction with nonexistent interior enforcement, has made the U.S. a fertile breeding ground for human trafficking.
The Biden administration’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking proudly proclaims “pillars,” principles and priority actions but makes no mention of securing the southern border. It does, however, dutifully present ideas regarding equity, inclusion and gender.
The administration persistently presses leftist talking points yet fails to recognize an obvious truth: Human trafficking—and the misery it causes—will continue to soar as long as there is no operational control of the southern border.
Congress must act to repeal Section 235 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Otherwise, UACs will continue to head for our southern border, with many encountering human trafficking cartels along the way and others falling prey to insufficiently vetted sponsors or “family members” they do not know.
The Biden administration’s refusal to enforce humane, effective immigration laws tempts people into risking their lives daily. Until the administration makes commonsense policy changes and starts enforcing the rule of law, the cartels will continue to control the border and the people who attempt to cross it.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times