On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced that it would award more than $35 million to organizations fighting human trafficking, according to the Associated Press.
Daughter of President Trump and presidential adviser, Ivanka Trump, as well as Attorney General William Barr, explained at a White House event yesterday that the Justice Department grants will provide safe housing for survivors.
Over 70 organizations in 33 states will receive funding that will allow victims 6 to 24 months of help for transitioning or short-term housing, as reported by CBN. The grants will also cover rent, utilities, and security deposits. Organizations may also use the money to help survivors find jobs or receive counseling.
Ivanka emphasized the importance of housing, particularly during the COVID pandemic. Many survivors were forced to live with their traffickers when stay-at-home orders were issued.
“COVID has really underscored the urgency,” said Ivanka. “Housing assistance is the number one need.”
Barr applauded the President for his initiative, stating that Trump has done “so much for victims that frankly, were inspired at the Justice Department.” The Attorney General also pledged to “investigate, prosecute and punish” traffickers.
Several survivors also joined Trump and Barr at the event to express their gratitude and share their stories.
“My aspirations, my personal vision for my future was of no concern to my trafficker,” said Tanya Gould. “So personally this experience to be heard and to feel valued has helped me advance on my own path of wholeness and I am forever grateful.”
Gould is a member of the US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, as well.
Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has sought to eradicate human trafficking.
“The president stated very early in the administration that he would put the full force and weight of this government on ending human trafficking, arguably the gravest of human rights violations,” said Ivanka.
Earlier this year, Trump created a new position in the White House domestic policy office to focus solely on human trafficking. However, not all support the President’s efforts. According to the AP, president of Refugees International Eric Schwartz has criticized the president for putting victims at risk by taking away their legal protections, such as denying special visas and lowering access to services.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.