Today, the Trump Administration announced a $35 million grant aimed at helping the Department of Justice address the issue of human trafficking in the United States. These funds, supported by White House Advisor Ivanka Trump and Attorney General William Barr, will help young women and men with critical needs like housing, vocational training and counseling, which can help break the cycle of violence and exploitation.

Human trafficking often seems like just an international issue, something that happens in far off locations to people in vulnerable or desperate economic situations. But it’s happening across this country as well. An estimated 25,000 women, men and children are trafficked, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been forced to live with their traffickers for extended periods of time without relief or the ability to get to a safe environment.

These new grants will help address this critically important topic.

In a statement to The Daily Citizen, Advisor Trump said, “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, combating human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad is critical work. Department of Justice’s grant recipients are on the frontlines of this fight, ensuring that survivors across our country are afforded safe and stable housing and empowered with the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives. I am incredibly honored to join Attorney General Barr to highlight these organizations and their tireless and vital work.”

Attorney General William Barr, who also attended the announcement, shared in a statement to The Daily Citizen, “Human trafficking is a barbaric criminal enterprise that subjects its victims to unspeakable cruelty and deprives them of the most basic of human needs, none more essential than a safe place to live. Throughout this Administration, the Department of Justice has fought aggressively to bring human traffickers to justice and to deliver critical aid to trafficking survivors. These new resources, announced today, expand on our efforts to offer those who have suffered the shelter and support they need to begin a new and better life.”

This issue is one that has been a keen focus of President Donald Trump and Advisor Trump, and the Administration has also recently hired Heather Fischer, a former State Department staffer, to address the issue of human trafficking.

Brooke Rollins, the Director of Domestic Policy Council, in an interview with The Daily Citizen, provided more insight about the event and how it would help vulnerable women and men across the country. She said, “Today, we hosted a round table on the tragic issue of human trafficking and broader issues. Estimates show that 25 million people across the world are living in modern slavery, one in four of those is a child, which is really heartbreaking. The President, from almost day one, has made this a priority.”

“We have announced almost $35 million in housing assistance grants for victims of human trafficking in our country. The pandemic has caused a significant increase in the trafficking numbers. Many victims have been locked up with their traffickers, so that’s what we’re trying to solve today and really put some focus on that and continue the fight.”

This is not the first time the Administration has addressed the issue of human trafficking.

“The President has signed nine different pieces of legislation into law making combatting human trafficking, one of his top priorities. It’s a very bipartisan issue, but it is one that doesn’t get a tremendous amount of attention. It’s really a federal government effort, that’s being led from the White House, also working with Congressional Republicans and Democrats.”

Slavery, in many ways, seems like an issue of the past, but this modern-day form of slavery happens every day in this country.

Director Rollins said, “You think about, this is America. And we do have our problems, but certainly not slavery. That’s an issue that happens in other parts of the world where there are dictators and tyranny and civil deconstruction of society. That’s where you would think human trafficking would happen, but in fact we have about 25,000 men, but mostly women and children, who are being trafficked in America. We don’t think about the human trafficking victims.”

The insecurity at the border isn’t helping. As Director Rollins explains, “What isn’t part of the conversation is that securing the border helps the people who are trying to come to America for a better life but can’t unless they get into a trafficking ring. The President’s focus on immigration reform is a big step forward.”

While trafficking situations occur mainly in marginalized or depressed communities, it can happen in suburbia as well.

“We talk about the border and low-income communities where a lot of this is happening, but it does happen in your backyard and it is happening in suburban America,” Director Rollins said. “Just putting the focus on it and talking about it, realizing the dangers that are out there through the internet, especially for kids. I’m a mother of four, and it’s held very close to me from that perspective. It is a very tragic situation, and it is a big issue of our time that doesn’t get much attention. But hopefully, with this President’s leadership and his unwavering commitment to the forgotten men and women of America, we’ll keep fighting.”

It’s not just getting the victims out of the situation but breaking the cycle of abuse and exploitation as well. An important component of that is training, housing and counseling.

Director Rollins explains, “To have a real shot at the American dream, you don’t need to have a four-year college degree. In fact, a lot of our work here is focused on certifications, apprenticeships and training, really helping those at the lower socio-economic end of the ladder. Obviously, those victims who are being trafficked probably need that step up more than most. Whether that’s training, housing or transportation, just giving these women with children a real shot at breaking the cycle by getting them out of these horrific circumstances and getting to a point where she can have a great job, education for her kids and break into that next socio-economic level.”

In our interview, Director Rollins said that this issue doesn’t move polls, but it should. These women, men and children, who have experienced trauma, torture, abuse and exploitation, need protection and support. This program helps give those in desperate situations a voice and a sense of hope that they can break the cycle.

“We understand what’s at stake for these human lives,” Director Rollins said. “And we understand that while we’re here and while God has granted us the grace to serve the American people, we’re here to serve all people, but we’re especially here to serve those forgotten men and women.”

Photo from ABC News


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