America First? Trump's Immigration Policy Will Boost Human Trafficking

A new report has shed light on some of the human rights abuse risks associated with President Donald Trump's immigration policies. But are people listening?

Global risk analysts at Verisk Maplecroft — a global risk and strategic consulting firm — say that President Donald Trump's approach to immigration will push migrant workers further underground. This has consequences, as they will be at greater risk of falling prey to human traffickers.

As the president's tough stance on immigration has been dubbed a “gift to human traffickers,” Maplecroft analysts are raising serious questions concerning Trump's immigration policies. Is he not aware his actions could have damning reactions to those fleeing misery and violence in central America?

The group's Human Rights Outlook 2017 report remarks that human rights abuse becomes more common when restrictive immigration legislation is strengthened, The Guardian reports. That's because companies are under a greater deal of scrutiny in those circumstances and the flow of migrant workers is pushed further into the shadows.

As their supply of workers becomes scarce, companies must spend more with labor. This forces them to reconsider their options.

To executive director of National Guestworkers Alliance Saket Soni, tighter restrictions on immigrant flow will boost human trafficking. Mentioning the Verisk Maplecroft report, Soni continued:

“We know firsthand what Verisk Maplecroft’s report confirms: criminalizing immigrants makes them more vulnerable to forced labor, human trafficking, and modern-day slavery. Trump’s mass criminalization will drive immigrants further into the shadows, where increasing numbers of them will face forced labor conditions.”

The U.S. government in this case is “part of the problem,” Soni added.

Maplecroft's principal analyst, Alexandra Channer, says that the United States is “already classed as ‘medium risk’ in our index measuring modern slavery around the world, and the commodity risk that we’ve done shows that there are already extreme risks for migrants, including those on farms harvesting apples or citrus fruits.”

As many workers already suffer a great deal because of the extra scrutiny stemming from immigration laws already in place, Canner says that the new rules would worsen “an already serious issue.”

Estimates show that there are currently 8 million undocumented migrants working in the United States, the report states. They account for 10 percent of the labor force in Nevada, 9 percent in California, 8.5 percent in Texas, and 6.2 percent in Florida.

Further crackdown of these workers would disrupt a series of industries since agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and hospitality are the sectors that rely the most on migrants.

Migrants are often the ones who take on informal, low-skilled, and low-paid work, putting them at greater risk of being on the receiving end of labor exploitation. With further restrictions, this will only intensify. And what is worse is that American companies will suffer since they will have a hard time meeting their labor demands without the help from immigrants.

If that continues, these companies will be forced to relocate elsewhere.

Touting his policies as an attempt at putting “America first” might be Trump's favorite pastime, but his actions do not match his words.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters

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