I’ve spent more than a decade fighting against human trafficking and working to give the victims of the global sex trade a voice, so it broke my heart to see that some anti-trafficking activists put their own political agenda ahead of protecting children.
It was my extraordinary honor to join President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Vice President Pence at the White House for a summit on human trafficking Friday. The summit was well-timed, coming just days before the Super Bowl, which is also the Super Bowl of sex trafficking.
The sexually objectifying display at the halftime show reinforced the fact that public servants need to take this problem seriously because the NFL clearly doesn’t.
Dozens of activists, advocates, and anti-trafficking organizations were in attendance to watch President Trump sign a significant new executive order aimed at preventing child sexual exploitation and announce the creation of a new post on the Domestic Policy Council specifically to combat this scourge.
Unfortunately, some prominent organizations chose to play politics instead of joining the rest of us in marking this victory and working to craft even more effective solutions.
Both the Polaris Project and Freedom Networks, organizations that each receive millions of dollars in government funding, elected to “boycott” the summit in order to draw attention to their political differences with the Trump administration.
The groups ostensibly held their boycott over the issue of “T visas,” which grant amnesty to certain trafficking victims who would otherwise be considered illegal immigrants.
The T visa and other programs with similar humanitarian aims have long been rife with fraud and illegitimate claims of victimhood.
This particular loophole is especially gaping, because the way current law is written, T visas can be exploited to secure amnesty for entire families of illegal immigrants.
The Trump administration has not eliminated the visa. Rather, as it has with other immigration loopholes, the White House has merely tightened the scrutiny of applicants in an effort to prevent T visas from being used to circumvent immigration law.
Reasonable minds can disagree on immigration policy, but it’s unconscionable for these organizations to grandstand over a single facet of this much-larger issue to the detriment of the women and children who have to endure the living hell of transnational sex trafficking.
There is no doubt that President Trump is a committed ally in this fight, which makes their decision to snub his outreach even more perplexing. White House Advisor Ivanka Trump, in particular, has made human trafficking a top priority.
The President has signed no fewer than nine bills to combat human trafficking in his time in office. He stands ready to work hand-in-hand with anti-trafficking groups by providing the law enforcement resources needed to catch and punish pimps and traffickers, as well as the support that victims need to rebuild their lives and regain their dignity.
The President’s support for our collective cause is already paying dividends on the streets, where activists like me are working to free victims from sex slavery.
Under President Trump, an unprecedented number of sex trafficking offenders are being apprehended and facing justice.
It was clear to me and the other anti-trafficking activists at the White House on Friday that the boycotting organizations have put their own personal political quibbles with President Trump above the needs of the victims they supposedly exist to protect.
They were merely attempting to turn a day of rejoicing over real progress into a partisan publicity stunt.
I had my own political disagreements with President Barack Obama on a variety of issues. When it came to human trafficking, however, I did not hesitate for a moment to set my own political views aside in the interest of saving the lives of exploited children.
I was proud to work with the Obama administration to combat the traffickers, just as I would be happy to work with any other president willing to support this noble cause.
The absence of a few activist groups did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm at the White House human trafficking summit, but it still would have been nice to see them put victims over politics and join the rest of us in celebrating genuine progress in the fight against modern-day slavery.
Jaco Booyens, a native of South Africa and an American citizen, actively fights against child sex trafficking in the USA and globally, giving aid and linking with agencies such as the TSA, FBI, Police departments, CIA, ICE, and Homeland Security SRT. Jaco also serves as a Fellow of the Falkirk Center at Liberty University and is the Founder and CEO of After Eden Pictures.