New Report Finds 2008 Trafficking Law …

by Marguerite Telford –

… Largely Irrelevant to Current Border Crisis

WASHINGTON, DC (July 16, 2014) — A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) finds that a 2008 trafficking law should not be benefitting most illegal immigrants currently crossing into the United States. By its own terms, the “William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008” – a law aimed, in part, at “unaccompanied alien children” who are victims of trafficking – may have little applicability to the current situation on the border for a number of reasons.

The report is at:

It appears that a significant majority of children coming across are not “unaccompanied alien children” according to the definition found in federal law. Federal law defines an “unaccompanied alien child” as an illegal alien under the age of 18 who is without “a parent or legal guardian in the United States”. Data from government agencies suggest that the overwhelming majority of minors currently arriving at the U.S. border have family in the United States.

There is little evidence to suggest that the recent arrivals are victims of trafficking, which entails coercion. Instead, families and their children are willing participants in smuggling operations, having paid smugglers to bring them into the United States. As ICE explains, “Human trafficking and human smuggling are distinct criminal activities, and the terms are not interchangeable.”

Even where the 2008 trafficking act is applicable, provisions within the law allow its application to be limited in “exceptional circumstances” which – as one prominent Democratic senator recently suggested – might include the current border crisis.

“An illegal immigrant who arrives at the U.S. border who is not a victim of trafficking and has family inside the United States should not be benefitting from protections in the 2008 trafficking law,” explained Jon Feere, Legal Policy Analyst at CIS. “Amending trafficking laws should not become a distraction from addressing the bigger problem of lax enforcement of immigration law – and inappropriate application of law – which continues to encourage people to come to the United States illegally.”

The report includes steps that President Obama can take to discourage the current wave of illegal immigration without waiting for new legislation.

Contact: Marguerite Telford

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