Survivors' of Human Trafficking Statements Regarding Risks of Separation of Children From Families at the US Border
Human trafficking survivors want you to know that separating children from their parents and loved ones at the US border is not preventing human trafficking. Rather, these inhumane and chaotic actions on the part of our government substantially increase the risk of these children becoming victims of traffickers.
Of note is the US State Department's own just-released 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which emphasizes parental separation and institutionalization as strong risk factors, and states, "Children in institutional care, including government-run facilities, can be easy targets for traffickers. Even at their best, residential institutions are unable to meet a child’s need for emotional support that is typically received from family members or consistent caretakers with whom the child can develop an attachment. Children are especially vulnerable when traffickers recognize and take advantage of this need for emotional bonding stemming from the absence of stable parental figures. In addition, the rigid schedules and social isolation of residential institutions offer traffickers a tactical advantage, as they can coerce children to leave and find ways to exploit them" (https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2018/282575.htm#3).
The following are quotes from survivors of human trafficking who are my friends and colleagues. Please listen to them. They know what they’re talking about.
We know foster care and institutionalization are risk factors, as are being turned away from a border, being a refugee, fleeing violence, and otherwise being lost in the world without protection. These cause people, especially children, to be more vulnerable to predation on all fronts, including from human traffickers. The extreme trauma of separation from parents and family, the neurobiological effects of that separation (not to mention the heart and soul effects) causes vulnerabilities to skyrocket. Here are just a few resources on foster care as a risk factor in human trafficking:
http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jul/29/nation/la-na-child-sex-20130730; http://humantraffickingsearch.org/foster-care-and-human-trafficking-nexus/; ; https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/trafficking-caseworkers/; http://www.casre.org/our_children/fcht/
If you have survived human trafficking and would like your statement added to this list, please email me your statement to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your statement may be anonymous, and in fact, unless you are a citizen of the United States you may want to strongly consider remaining anonymous (or not submitting a quote at all, though I welcome you in any way that won't endanger you), given that even people with permanent residency status and green cards are currently being rounded up and/or deported.
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Margaret Howard, MFA, LCSW
Psychotherapist, gardener, writer, mother, grandmother, explorer.