Trump’s immigration crackdown could increase modern day slavery

Unintended consequences.
Unintended consequences.
Image: Reuters/Jose de Jesus Cortes
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Donald Trump’s plans to sharply reduce undocumented migrants coming into the US. However, the president’s harder line on deporting these immigrants is likely to increase the number of people at risk of modern slavery, says a human rights analyst.

Alexandra Channer of risk-management consultancy Verisk Maplecroft says that the number of people at risk of becoming a modern slave will increase if the Trump administration doesn’t address the “drivers” of illegal immigration in tandem with introducing stricter rules on deportation.

“Policies that increase the costs of trafficking, such as tighter enforcement of deportation rules and restricting the protections offered by sanctuary cities, will push undocumented migrants further into the hands of the criminal gangs involved in border trafficking and the procurement of undocumented workers,” she said, ahead of the release of Verisk Maplecroft’s Modern Slavery 2017 index. She continued:

“Migrants will be ever more dependent on trafficking networks for survival and fewer will report entrapment and labor abuses to the authorities for fear of deportation. Increases in such violations pose a risk to companies sourcing goods from the US, especially from the agricultural sector, as well as within the services industry.”

Verisk Maplecroft uses “modern slavery” as an umbrella term for those forced into labor, servitude, and the trafficking of people. In its annual report, the group assessed 198 countries on the strength of their law enforcement and legal structures, effectiveness of their enforcement, and severity of violations to calculate its rankings.

The US ranked 135th, and is categorized as “medium risk.” Channer notes, however, that the country’s score “sits very close to the threshold for high risk.”

By comparison, the UK is 180th in rankings and Germany is 184th.

Selected countries in the Modern Slavery Index