Donald Trump has just removed legal representation from the list of social services the federal government provides to human trafficking survivors.
Past survivors of human trafficking have argued that Trump's latest salvo hinders their reintegration into society.
The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime sets federal funding aside to assist crime victims, including the victims of human trafficking.
Or at least it used to.
Now the funding that human trafficking victims used to get their criminal records expunged or dismissed has been cut off.
This is a diabolical move as more than 90 percent of human trafficking victims are arrested for crimes they are forced into like prostitution or drug possession when they are being trafficked.
But the most recent iteration of the Office for Victims of Crime’s budget, released on June 25, added this new language...
“OVC funding may not be used for criminal defense services. Direct representation on vacatur or expungement matters through court filings or through other litigation services, is NOT an allowable cost under this cooperative agreement or with FY 2018 funds.”
Now those who have fallen prey to the very criminals that Trump decries every day will be victimized again by him and his newest policy change.
In response to the heartless move 100 trafficking survivors wrote in a group letter to the OVC on Friday...
“Criminal records are a barrier to federal financial assistance for higher education, employment with government agencies, and housing programs. When we have a lawyer help us with the difficult judicial process we are more likely to obtain justice and have our lives rightfully put into a place we can move past our victimization and be integrated back into society.”
Additionally Freedom Network USA, along with several hundred other organizations, urged the Trump administration to rework the budget to include legal representation on Friday.
The American Bar Association also wrote a letter condemning the change.
The Office for Victims of Crime has not yet publicly stated what the legal representation fees will be used for instead.