Bowen Xiao


Experts, a former victim, and some anti-trafficking groups said they are encouraged by the administration’s executive order aimed at eliminating human trafficking, describing it as a “historical collaboration” between federal agencies, and one of the “more comprehensive” actions taken by the White House to date.

The directive, signed into law by President Donald Trump on Jan. 31, sets into motion a wide range of actions. The order “on combating human trafficking and online child exploitation in the United States” broadly prioritizes “resources to vigorously prosecute offenders, to assist victims, and to provide prevention education to combat human trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children.”

Much of the order is broken down into “prosecution, protection, and prevention,” a senior administration official said in a Jan. 31 conference call with reporters. Prosecuting traffickers and buyers as well as cracking down on child pornography are both highlighted as key points of the directive.

In interviews with The Epoch Times, four anti-trafficking groups and other experts, some who attended the White House summit last week and who have worked with the administration on combating the problem, said the order rightly tackles a number of key areas needed to combat trafficking, as they relate to primary prevention methods.

Many described trafficking as a business operation utilizing supply and demand, and said buyers should also be held accountable for contributing to the problem.

One of the major orders was the creation of a new White House position dedicated solely to combating trafficking. That position will be part of the Domestic Policy Council, and the candidate would work with the Executive Office of the President, including the Office of Economic Initiatives and the National Security Council.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment to The Epoch Times about whether a short list for the role has been created.

Kevin Malone, president of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking and a member of Trump’s Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking, said his organization has worked with the administration since April 2017, and helped advocate for the new anti-trafficking position to be opened up.

“We’re probably looking at a couple of months before that position is filled,” Malone told The Epoch Times, noting that he doesn’t have direct knowledge of any internal White House decisions. “This position that the president has created will be a major game-changer in the fight against domestic human trafficking.”

Other major actions in the directive include the expansion of housing options for victims of trafficking, increasing prevention education programs for the country’s youth within the applicable laws, and improving the detection of real-time sharing of child sexual abuse material on the internet. At the signing, Trump declared his administration as “100 percent committed to eradicating human trafficking from the earth.”

Samantha Vardaman, vice president of Shared Hope International, a nonprofit anti-trafficking organization, was one of many other groups attending the summit last week. She said the mood at the event was “very positive” and that she was encouraged to see that one of the focuses was targeting online material.

“The focus on online exploitation is absolutely essential,” she told The Epoch Times. “We’re drowning in online child sex abuse images. When the technology companies won’t voluntarily self-regulate them, we need government to do something.”

Vardaman said the time to take action against abuse on the internet is now, citing the threat of end-to-end encryption that major technology companies are moving toward.

In addition, Attorney General William Barr, in collaboration with the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, will “improve interagency coordination with respect to targeting traffickers, determining threat assessments, and sharing law enforcement intelligence to build on the administration’s commitment to the continued success of ongoing anti-trafficking enforcement initiatives.”

Trump has often spoken publicly about combating human trafficking. He signed the order upon the conclusion of a White House summit on the issue while surrounded by officials, members of Congress, and trafficking survivors.

According to the White House, 24.9 million people around the world and in the United States, both adults and children, are trapped in some form of human trafficking. About 1 in 800 people in the United States are living in “modern slavery,” according to 2018 data by the Walk Free Foundation. The phrase is a broad term used to describe victims of forced labor, sexual exploitation or servitude, and forced marriages, among numerous other abuses.

Darrin Giglio, a former Marine who has also worked for the U.S. Secret Service, told The Epoch Times that one of the noteworthy factors of the White House event was the announcement by Ivanka Trump of an additional $42 million in funding dedicated to prosecuting traffickers and supporting victims in 2021.

“Human trafficking syndicates often operate on a global level, and it’s very costly to cast a net that large,” said Giglio, who is now the chief investigator at North American Investigations, a licensed New York private investigation agency. “The additional resources will be very helpful and should lead to an increase in prosecutions.”

Ivanka Trump confirmed the additional funding in her remarks at the summit. The president is expected to announce the proposed budget increase for 2021 sometime this month.

In fiscal 2016, there were 531 human trafficking prosecutions, Giglio added via email. In fiscal 2019, there were 343.

“This order should help get that number back up,” he said.

Vardaman said traffickers are often willing to take a risk because the risk of getting caught is low.

“We don’t have the resources that we need to make it a higher-risk crime,” she said. “There’s a real need for that money, both to investigate and prosecute, but also to help to restore and provide the long-term services that victims need.”

The administration’s more aggressive prosecutorial approach is vital in tackling the root cause of the problem, by reducing demand and prosecuting obscenity, according to Jake Roberson, director of communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

“There’s just so much evidence that obscenity and hardcore pornography is a huge part of the demand element,” Roberson told The Epoch Times. “We’ve seen this explosion since the Department of Justice began rolling back obscenity prosecutions during the Clinton administration.”

“We’ve seen a huge core correlation with the rise of obscenity and then the rise from that of child sexual abuse material and the proliferation there. It spills over into the rise and the hidden problem that we’ve got with human trafficking.”

Heads of executive departments and appropriate agencies, including Barr and the Secretary of Homeland Security, were also tasked to propose to Trump, within 180 days, “legislative and executive actions that would overcome information-sharing challenges and improve law enforcement’s capabilities” to eliminate child pornography.

The State Department is also tasked with creating a website containing resources to combat, identify, and report instances of human trafficking, as well as to protect and support victims. A senior administration official said the site will be a central government website, describing it as a “one-stop shop for the public to be able to go and see all of the federal government’s resources on human trafficking, including public outreach and training.”

The administration is also creating a working group to “find better ways to locate missing children, such as children in foster care that tend to be vulnerable to human trafficking and child exploitation,” the official said.

The director of faith-based anti-trafficking group One More Child—which meets the needs of foster and trafficked children, as well as struggling families—said the expansion of housing options for survivors was “monumental” and praised the approach of “bringing together governmental agencies, along with nonprofits and direct service providers.”

“For survivors, it aids recidivism when there’s a lack of housing,” Christa Lynn, the executive director of the group, told The Epoch Times. “I love that they’re addressing the need to more aggressively prosecute traffickers, and again, that they’re doing it through the collaborative approach is very important.”

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was tasked with creating an internal working group that would strategize ways for “faith-based and other community organizations to expand housing options for victims of human trafficking,” as well as involving other levels of government.

Meanwhile, some anti-trafficking groups boycotted the White House trafficking event last week, saying the administration hasn’t done enough to help immigrant trafficking victims.

Power of Faith

Lynn herself is a former victim of sex-trafficking, who gained freedom from the industry and is now a certified clinical trauma professional. Her mother was also a victim of trafficking, and Lynn said she grew up living a “life of vulnerability” and poverty. She said she saw her parents abuse drugs, and there was domestic violence at times.

“You take all of these childhood vulnerabilities, and it’s no surprise that at 13, I would be raped for the first time,” she said. “By 15, I had already been bouncing around in non-familial placements, and ended up a few weeks homeless here and there.”

At another time in her life, Lynn said a trafficker posed as a boyfriend and convinced her to come to his house to be safe and live there. She said the day she arrived, “he took everything I owned and held me.” She was held captive in the man’s house for about two and half months.

During other instances, Lynn said she was also a victim of labor trafficking for a couple of weeks. Her vulnerable childhood, she said, led her to develop a severe drug addiction.

“Through the drug addiction at 24, I would be trafficked for another, like, two to three days again, I was highly on drugs,” she said.

At 27 years old, Lynn had a daughter, which she said sparked the “first hope.” At 29, she wound up in prison, and it was there she first found her faith. She said learning about God gave her new hope she had never felt before in her life.

As time went on, she found mentors and joined a Christian community, obtained an education, and learned how to be a mother, before she joined the faith-based group One More Child. She said that due to her experience, she knows how important it is to target traffickers and buyers.

Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Administration Ramps up Fight Against Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump highlighted the confirmation of more than 150 federal judges under his administration, during a speech at the White House on Nov. 6 in which he described the number as a “profoundly historic milestone” and a “truly momentous achievement.”

Speaking in the East Room, Trump hosted a number of senior administration officials, members of Congress, legal scholars, state and local leaders, and supporters.

Congress so far has confirmed 112 judges to federal district courts, 43 judges to federal circuit courts, and two new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump said that he expects that number to reach about 182 in the next two months. Federal judges are nominated by the president and then must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, federal judges hold a lifetime appointment and can only be removed from office through impeachment.

“They will uphold our constitution as written,” Trump said, referring to the appointed federal judges. “These distinguished men and women are some of the most gifted scholars, respected jurists, and finest legal minds ever placed on the federal bench.”

“Together, we are restoring American freedom, defending American justice, and preserving the extraordinary vision of our Founding Fathers.”

During his remarks, Trump gave a shoutout to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and invited him to stand up, to applause. Trump also thanked a number of Republican senators, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General William Barr, who also attended the event.

“I’ve always heard actually that when you become president, the single most important thing you can do is federal judges. … Based on that, I think there’s nobody that’s done a better job ever than Senator Mitch McConnell,” he said.

“Generations from now, Americans will know that Mitch McConnell helped save the constitutional rule of law in America.”

Trump also warned about judges assuming the role of a legislator, saying that would threaten the rights of all citizens.

“In other words, the impartial and objective judge who is a faithful servant of the law is essential to the survival of American liberty,” he said.

According to the White House, approximately 1 in 4 active judges on the U.S. Courts of Appeals has been appointed by Trump. The appointments have also tipped the balance in some courts, including the flipping of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit from a Democratic-appointed majority to a Republican-appointed majority. Both the 2nd and 11th circuits are likely to flip by the end of this year, the White House said.

In contrast, former President Barack Obama nominated 55 circuit judges, who were confirmed over the eight years of his administration.

The president invited McConnell to say a few words.

McConnell said: “I’m reminded of Election Night, when I realized that not only had [Trump] won, but we had taken the House, we held the Senate, and this was going to be one of those unusual periods where Republicans had all three branches.”

He noted that Republicans have held power in all three branches of government for only 20 years of the past 100.

“We got the chance to set the agenda, an opportunity to move the ball in the right direction,” McConnell said, referring to the current administration. “What’s the most important thing? Clearly, it was the Supreme Court.”

Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Touts Confirmation of More Than 150 Federal Judges

Pope Francis has sent half a million dollars in funds from the “Peter’s Pence collections” to 27 Mexico-based projects to assist migrant communities, the Vatican said on April 27.

It comes as President Donald Trump warned days ago of a new migrant caravan attempting to get on U.S. soil.

The funds are to be sent to 16 Mexican dioceses and religious congregations that requested assistance in basic aid for the migrants stranded at the border. The Vatican noted that more than 75,000 migrants arrived in Mexico last year in six different migrant caravans. The migrants mainly come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

“The Catholic Church hosts thousands of them in hotels within the dioceses or religious congregations, providing basic necessities, from housing to clothing,” the Vatican said.

Trump has urged Mexico to stop the influx of migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally. The president has repeatedly floated the idea of closing certain parts of the southern border in order to stem what he described previously as an “attempted invasion of illegals.

U.S. officials said they arrested or denied entry to more than 103,000 people along the border with Mexico in March, more than twice as many as the same period in 2018.

Border Patrol agent Tait Seelhorst and his K-9 Zak find an illegal alien who was trying to evade capture near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
A group of illegal aliens walks up the road after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico. Further up the road, they will board a bus bound for the Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

“A very big Caravan of over 20,000 people started up through Mexico,” Trump said in an April 24 Twitter post. “It has been reduced in size by Mexico but is still coming. Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military. The Coyotes & Cartels have weapons!”

Peter’s Pence, which are donations or payments made directly to the Holy See, must be evaluated for transparency, the Vatican said.

In a statement, the church insisted that “a regulated and transparent use of the resources, which must be accounted for, is required before the aid is assigned.” It also noted that 13 projects of the 27 have already been approved, with another 14 currently being evaluated.

The Pentagon said on April 26 that it expects to send about 300 additional troops to the U.S.–Mexico border. The move is a sign of a growing military support role, as the Trump administration seeks to add assistance to an overwhelmed Border Patrol dealing with what Customs and Border Protection chief Kevin McAleenan has called “unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border.”

Trump, who has made tackling illegal immigration a signature issue of his presidency, praised the Border Patrol for their recent efforts and noted the record numbers of illegal’s apprehended.

“Can anyone comprehend what a GREAT job Border Patrol and Law Enforcement is doing on our Southern Border. So far this year they have APPREHENDED 418,000 plus illegal immigrants, way up from last year,” he said April 24 on Twitter.

“Mexico is doing very little for us. DEMS IN CONGRESS MUST ACT NOW!”

Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: Theepochtimes: Pope Francis Sends $500,000 in Funds to Assist Migrants at Mexico–US Border Amid Surge

President Donald Trump told reporters on April 5 that he would skip the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner scheduled for later this month.

Trump’s comments confirm that he will not attend the event for the third year in a row. As he was leaving the White House on his trip to the southern border in California, he told reporters that the event was not to his liking.

Instead, he said he would hold one of his MAGA-style rallies as a counter-program to the April 27 press dinner. The president’s rallies often gather tens of thousands of supporters. In a recent rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump drew in 14,000 supporters who filled the Van Andel Arena stadium to capacity, with nearly 20,000 outside.

“The dinner is so boring and so negative that we’re going to hold a very positive rally instead,” he said.

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for travel to the U.S.-Mexico border from the White House on April 5, 2019. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Presidents and first ladies have traditionally attended the event, and a number of reporting awards also are distributed at the dinner. Trump has not been to the dinner since he took office but had suggested he might appear this year after organizers scrapped the usual format featuring a comedian and instead invited Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow to speak.

Trump became the first president since Ronald Reagan to skip the dinner. Reagan did not attend in 1981 because he was recovering from an assassination attempt.

The association this year decided to shift to a featured speaker instead of a comic after a sharply anti-Trump performance last year by comedian Michelle Wolf that some thought was too pointed against White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other White House staff.

Chernow, a biographer of presidents and statesmen including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, is expected to speak about the importance of the First Amendment.

President Donald Trump at a MAGA rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 28, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The president, who often refers to the media as “fake news” for their coverage of his presidency, recently ramped up his criticisms on Twitter. Previously he has criticized The New York Times, CNN, ABC, and NBC, for their coverage.

“The press is doing everything within their power to fight the magnificence of the phrase, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he wrote on April 5.

“They can’t stand the fact that this Administration has done more than virtually any other Administration in its first 2yrs. They are truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Trump said his team has yet to settle on a location for his April 27 rally, but stressed: “It’ll be a big one.”

‘They Have to Be Accountable’

At the Michigan rally, Trump’s first one since special counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his nearly 2-year-long investigation, the president returned to familiar ground—the campaign trail—where he put those behind the investigation in the spotlight.

“After 3 years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over,” Trump told 12,000 supporters in the Van Andel Arena.

The stage was set with a giant American flag as a backdrop, flanked with banners reading “Jobs Jobs Jobs!”—a different tone from Trump’s opening rally of the year in El Paso, Texas, which read “Finish the Wall.”

Donald Trump Jr., who spoke right before his father struck a victorious tone: “It’s not just our vindication it’s your vindication…. Because you stuck by us.”

The first thing the president addressed was his vindication via the Mueller report, which concluded that he and his campaign associates did not collude or coordinate with Russia in efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

The president also made reference to the so-called Steele dossier which was at the heart of the allegations that he colluded with Russia.

“All of the current and former officials who paid for, promoted, and perpetuated the single greatest hoax in the history of politics in our country, they have to be accountable,” Trump said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: Theepochtimes: Trump to Skip White House Press Dinner for Third Year in a Row

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