It appears that the Trump administration can’t even fight human trafficking without finding itself in some bizarre scandal.
Reuters is reporting that the President’s anti-trafficking grant program has been hit with complaints over the decision to exclude nonprofit organizations Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Palm Beach and Chicanos Por La Causa of Phoenix in favor of supposedly less worthy causes like the Nevada-based “Hookers For Jesus” group and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation.
In December, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees local 2830 union demanded that the Justice Department’s Inspector General investigate whether or not politics played a roll in the dispersal of funds in a complaint.
Internal memos from early September show that the Catholic Charities and Chicanos groups were originally on a “Tier 1” list of grant winners recommended by the outside contractors who vetted the applicants — but by the end of the month had found themselves off the list, replaced with “Tier 2” charities like HFJ in allegedly in order to “distribute funding across as many states as possible.”
Reuters reports that the Chicanos group has previously opposed the Trump administration’s appalling immigration policies, which only serve to fuel human trafficking by deporting immigrants to Mexico and depositing them into the clutches of cartel kidnappers, while the head of Catholic Charities in Palm Beach has participated in past Democratic National Committees — both of which are more than enough reason for the notoriously spiteful Trump administration to want to deny them funding.
The disbursement of federal grant money to “Hookers for Jesus” is particularly problematic, since they are an explicitly religious organization. Run by a born-again trafficking survivor, the group operates a safe house for abused women but previously lost their state funding for allegedly forcing women seeking shelter to attend Bible classes, which they denied. “We felt their policies were not victim-focused or evidence-based,” complained Nevada’s Division of Child and Family Services.
President Trump recently signed an executive order creating a post on the Domestic Policy Council to directly oversee human trafficking in the United States, and will designate a $42 million budget increase to fund the anti-trafficking efforts.
It is completely unsurprising but extremely depressing to see the Trump team play partisan politics when it comes to fighting human trafficking.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.