Trump has no idea what human trafficking actually looks like — but he's happy to make up stories about it to push for his wall.
Fear-mongering has always been Trump's go-to strategy for drumming up support for his racist border wall. He constantly lies about immigrants bringing drugs, disease, and terrorism into the country — but his new favorite boogeyman is human trafficking.
Trump has started telling frightening tales about women being kidnapped and brought over the border and arguing that a border wall would somehow solve this problem. In just the past two weeks, Trump has told repeated stories about women being "thrown into vehicles" with "tape over their mouths" and transported through illegal entry ports.
"They tape their face, their hair, their hands behind their back, their legs," Trump said in a speech Monday. "They put them in the back seat of cars and vans, and they go — they don’t come in through your port of entry, because you’d see them. You couldn’t do that."
But according to trafficking experts, Trump's tales are so misleading that they more closely resemble depictions from "action films" than anything seen in real life.
The Toronto Star spoke with six trafficking experts from around the country, all of whom said they had met "no trafficking victims who had suffered anything like the experience Trump described."
"Either he’s watching action films or he’s watching some other type of movie that involves handcuffs and tape over people’s mouths," Lori Cohen, director of an anti-trafficking organization, told the Star. "But in neither case is it based in any reality of what individuals helping trafficking victims see."
Martina Vandenberg, president of the Human Trafficking Legal Center, told the Star that Trump's depiction of the problem "is practically unrecognizable to those of us who have spent decades in the trenches combating these abuses."
Other experts provided similar accounts.
"I have never had a case where someone’s mouth was taped up and they were brought across the border in the way the president described," said Bridgette Carr, director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.
As for Trump's claim that a border wall could "eliminate" human trafficking from Mexico, experts said this isn't even close to accurate.
Most trafficking victims fall prey to verbal coercion in which traffickers promise them a better life in the U.S. Then, after arriving in the country and realizing that the jobs they were promised don't exist, victims are kept against their will through threats, violence, or a combination of both.
Many victims "arrive on visas fraudulently obtained by traffickers. Others are exploited by traffickers after they independently arrive in the U.S. on visas," the Star reported. "None of these people would be helped by a wall."
Not only would Trump's border fail to address the problem of human trafficking, but his policies are actually making life harder for the victims he claims to care about.
For example, as the Star noted, the Trump's administration has slashed the number of visas available to protect trafficking victims from deportation if they cooperate with law enforcement.
As one expert told the publication, if Trump cares about solving the problem of human trafficking, he should stop implementing policies that "play into the hands of the pimps."
But Trump doesn't care about addressing the problem — he cares about his border wall, and he's willing to lie, fear-monger, and exploit victims to get it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.