The Trump administration is continuing to fail to convince observers that they’re doing anything other than perpetuating a corrupt spectacle. Now, eight prominent anti-human trafficking organizations have revealed that they’re skipping an Ivanka Trump-led White House event scheduled for this Friday that’s meant to commemorate a bill making human trafficking a felony. One of the organization’s spokespeople denounced the event as a “photo op” and some pointed out that in reality, the Trump administration has actually made life more difficult for some trafficking survivors thanks to their crackdown on the process for granting visas to such individuals.
As the Human Trafficking Legal Center’s Martina Vandenberg put it:
‘We have such a chasm between rhetoric and reality. I don’t think any of us have the desire to be a part of a photo op.’
One trafficking survivor added the following to The Washington Post, referencing the time that survivors are left in limbo while seeking approval for one of those visas for travel to the U.S.:
‘During that time, they are unable to work and unable to get medical care. We are talking about years where people are just stuck.’
There are other examples of the Trump administration’s documented lack of concern for the safety of vulnerable people. Outrage spread far and wide when they decided to punitively separate immigrant families seeking a safer life in the United States, and even after their policy of family separations stopped on paper, the conditions that those who have made it into the U.S. have faced thanks to the Trump administration have been brutal and sometimes deadly.
For example, last year, Border Patrol lied about the circumstances surrounding the death of 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez. They claimed that an officer found the teen unresponsive during a check-up — but in reality, according to evidence obtained by ProPublica, Carlos was left to visibly struggle through his last hours without any apparent check-in for hours on end. And he was discovered by a cellmate, not an officer.
And Ivanka wants us to think that she’s serious about making better lives for people? Seriously? She’s been a part of the Trump administration the whole time.
She responded to scrutiny of her Friday event with a vague statement. She commented:
‘I am honored to stand with the president as we convene federal, state, local and tribal leaders, alongside survivors, employers and advocates to ensure that we see the end of the crisis of human trafficking once and for all.’
The thing is — while Ivanka makes a show of this, other organizations are on the front lines doing the actual work. That list includes Polaris, who runs the anti-trafficking hotline, and will also be skipping her White House event.
The president’s continued efforts to further drive marginalized communities into the shadows does not at all fit with the stated aims to improve the lives of these vulnerable people. In reality, he’s making circumstances more precarious for vulnerable people while Ivanka puts on shows like the Friday photo-op.