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June 20, 2019

Humanity United Response to 2019 TIP Report

Following the release of the 2019 U.S. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, Melysa Sperber, Director, Policy and Government Relations at Humanity United said,

“The credibility of the TIP Report must first and foremost be grounded in the integrity of the government issuing the report. For that reason, the ranking of the United States must be credible, and this year’s rank of Tier 1 is not. U.S. policies are deliberately eroding protections for the most vulnerable among us. Not only is this approach ineffectual to reduce human trafficking, this puts the United States’ standing as a leader on human rights in question.

“Contradicting the Trump administration’s stated commitment to fight human trafficking, the United States is increasingly denying human trafficking survivors’ access to T Visas, which were explicitly created to allow survivors of severe labor or sex trafficking to receive services and remain in the U.S. to help prosecute their traffickers. Instead, survivors seeking a T Visa are being denied and flagged for deportation, which makes them more vulnerable and spreads fear among those yet to come forward.

“Additionally, the administration’s zero tolerance and the “Remain in Mexico” border policies show an inexcusable lack of concern for the basic human rights of migrating families, many fleeing persecution and exploitation. By painfully separating families and prosecuting asylum seekers as criminals, the administration empowers traffickers who target desperate men, women and children seeking refuge.

“Finally, the State Department’s funding cuts to Northern Triangle governments underscores the administration’s lack of interest in addressing root causes of exploitation and trafficking.

“These actions, coupled with the president’s divisive rhetoric, serve to dehumanize and harm the very populations that the TIP Report profiles as the most vulnerable in the United States and, in doing so, erode the country’s long-standing leadership on combating trafficking worldwide.

“In the absence of leadership from the executive branch, Congress has stepped up, and last year passed new provisions as part of the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018 that aim to strengthen the TIP Report. Congress sent a clear message: To show progress, foreign governments must demonstrate concrete action in combating all forms of human trafficking. Given the weak justification for the Tier 1 ranking of the United States, the State Department should prioritize implementation of Congress’ mandate rather than the approach of phasing in the reauthorization’s provisions.

“Late last year the Trump administration announced sharp reductions in foreign assistance to countries listed on Tier 3 of the 2018 TIP Report. When it enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, Congress never intended to justify the withdrawal of humanitarian assistance on anti-trafficking grounds. We urge the administration to maintain humanitarian and non-trade assistance to countries on Tier 3 of this year’s TIP Report.

“As the administration continues to undercut its own stated commitment to end modern slavery, its actions severely weaken the integrity of the TIP Report and America’s ability to influence other countries to do more.”

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