Victims of human trafficking often are sold into a life of prostitution, violence and drugs. And they get arrested and charged….
Trump’s administration has now mandated that those federal funds used to help victims clear their criminal records no longer be spent for that purpose.
Four top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee just sent a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr this week asking why his department made changes that of laws passed to help trafficking victims,
“fly in the face of the spirit and plain language.”
A study by the National Survivor Network found that more than 90 percent of survivors of human trafficking had been arrested, and about half of them had been arrested at least 10 times.
Jean Bruggeman, executive director of Freedom Network USA said,
“Trafficking survivors who have criminal records… they are unable to get access to affordable housing, employment in the career of their choice, higher education, because they continue to have to explain and discuss a criminal record that was unfairly put upon them in the first place.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who wrote a letter to the Justice Department last year after the change was first announced, said Friday that
“it’s undeniable that many prostituted men and women, boys and girls, are actually victims of human and sex trafficking. And it’s undeniable they have accumulated arrests and conviction for prostitution because they were trafficked. So if we are serious about fighting sex trafficking, which should be a given, let’s help, which is what this critical funding for legal assistance would provide.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — along with his fellow committee members sent a letter to the attorney general. He wrote
“by adopting policies that prohibit the use of grant funding for survivors of human trafficking to access critical legal representation.”
The letter asks for justification in prohibiting funds for trafficking victims’ expungement cases by Aug. 15.
Nadler told The Washington Post,
“Congress had made it clear that victims of human trafficking deserve the opportunity to reclaim their lives. The administration’s move to restrict the use of funding for expungement is not only regressive but cruel. The administration must provide us with answers regarding this decision.”
(Photo, Wikimedia Commons; via Washington Post)