The Road To Hell, Etc.: TVPA and the Border Crisis (Updated)

Yes, the Obama Administration, by their actions (and inaction) have managed to turn a huge border problem into a massive border crisis.

And yes, a law–called the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA)–that predated the Obama Administration, and which was intended to prevent or at least curtail human trafficking, heavily contributed to that crisis.

The two facts are not mutually-exclusive, notwithstanding the perennial American impulse to engage in team sports “Johnny did it” politics.

However, far from being a Bush-era law, as asserted by Democrats and the media, the law was merely a renewal of a bill that was originally signed into law by President Clinton, and periodically renewed.

While this does not absolve Republicans of culpability in this adject clusterfail by any stretch, the Blame Bush meme is a transparent lie.

Meanwhile, at least one prominent Democrat is balking at the Obama Administration’s claim that their hands are tied:

From The New York Times, “Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking,” published earlier this week:

The Obama administration says the law is partly responsible for tying its hands in dealing with the current influx of children. Officials have suggested that the White House might seek flexibility in the law’s requirements when it asks Congress to provide emergency funds to contend with the latest immigration crisis, a request that could come as early as Tuesday. About 52,000 minors without their parents have been caught at the Southwest border since October….

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who helped write the measure, said the White House does not need new power to act. “That law already provides the administration with flexibility to accelerate the judicial process in times of crisis,” she said. “The administration should use that flexibility to speed up the system while still treating these children humanely, with compassion and respect.”

However, one might wonder what kind of flexibility Ms. Feinstein has in mind–not the flexibility to deport without adjudication, presumably.

The Times goes on to say this about Republicans:

They say the effort to point to the Bush-era law is a meant to deflect attention from the administration and make both parties culpable.

Representative Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican and a chief backer of the original bill, said multiple factors contributed to the crisis, including “exploitation of our laws, the ungoverned space in Central America, as well as the desperate poverty faced by those deciding to cross.”

“With all these factors in mind, it’s hard to think that today’s situation at the border can be directly attributed to a law that’s been in effect now for six years,” Mr. Fortenberry said.

So Democrats, Republicans, and the media all agree–it was a Bush-era law. EXCEPT IT WASN’T!

From the lazy blogger’s research resource, Wikipedia:

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) is a federal statute passed into law in 2000 by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Clinton. The law was later reauthorized by Presidents Bush and Obama. It offers protections for persons in the country illegally who may be victims of human trafficking.

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was subsequently renewed in 2003, 2006, 2008 (when it was renamed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008). The law lapsed in 2011. In 2013 the entirety of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was attached as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act and passed. There are two stipulations an applicant has to meet in order to receive the benefits of the T-Visa. First, a trafficked victim must prove/admit to being trafficked and second must submit to prosecution of his or her trafficker. Because of this the law does not apply to immigrants seeking admission to the United States for other immigration purposes.

Since the law requires the applicant to become part of the prosecution of his or her trafficker, trafficked persons may be fearful of retaliation upon the self or the family and thus serves as a major deterrent to individuals even considering application. The law contains provisions for protection of those who are categorized as victims of human trafficking, primarily for sex, smuggling, and forced labor forms of exploitation.

Got it, people? The law did NOT commence in 2008. This is a bipartisan clusterfail.

But the law goes a long way toward explaining why those alien minors are running toward, not away from, border patrol personnel.  “Mr. Border Agent, I was trafficked [but we kinda knew that didn’t we–the traffickers are called “coyotes”]; the trafficker’s name was Jose but we never saw his face. Please give me my court date and a ride to my relatives’ house in America.” Something like that.

The Times goes on:

What many can agree on is that the Wilberforce law was not enacted with the idea of dealing with the current flow of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors or providing an incentive for children to reach the border.

“It is classic unintended consequences,” said Marc R. Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute. “This was certainly not what was envisioned.”

Hence the title of this post.

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Update:

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