ICE Now Calling Aiding Unaccompanied Minors 'Human Trafficking' To Bypass Sanctuary City Laws
from the offline-SESTA-ing dept
In the name of fighting sex trafficking, legislators are willing to make the internet mostly worthless. Punching a hole in Section 230 protections will encourage incumbents to limit user participation and prevent startups from ever making it off the ground. Proponents claim it’s narrowly-targeted and abuse-proof, but the language would allow any service provider to be held accountable for the criminal actions of users. If traffickers can’t use Facebook or Google thanks to heavier moderation, they’ll move onto other websites and services until those too are rendered useless by government action.
Part of the problem with legislation like this is mission creep. It may start with sex trafficking, but it will inevitably be expanded to cover other illicit content. And sex trafficking itself is its own dodge. All the government has to do is claim something is trafficking and the hammer begins to fall.
This is because the term leaves no room for intelligent conversations. Proponents know people aren’t likely to speak up against efforts to fight sex trafficking, especially when they point out this sometimes includes children. It becomes a governmental blank check for enforcement action — something that deters questioning of the government’s activities, much in the way the term “national security” has limited legislative and judicial discussion about surveillance overreach.
A recent raid by ICE in Oakland, California, appears to have been carried out under false pretenses: a bog standard immigration enforcement action masquerading as a human trafficking investigation.
Following a controversial Aug. 16 raid of a West Oakland home by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said repeatedly that the operation was part of a criminal human trafficking investigation. She also asserted that OPD did not violate Oakland’s sanctuary city policy by assisting ICE — by providing several patrol officers to block off the street during the raid — because it was a criminal, not civil immigration matter.
Sounds ominous. But the paper trail undermines the official narrative.
But according to evidence presented by Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission Chair Brian Hofer at the commission’s meeting last week, the raid hasn’t resulted in a single criminal prosecution. Rather, the only person arrested, Santos de Leon, is facing civil immigration charges and could be deported.
This is generating controversy because it appears Oakland police violated the city’s sanctuary statutes by providing assistance to ICE in routine immigration enforcement efforts. But that’s not the only reason it’s controversial. It appears ICE is using loaded language to redefine activities performed by citizens aiding stranded children.
Immigration advocates are worried that the West Oakland raid could be an example of a new and troubling trend: ICE has recently begun to classify the act of providing shelter and other assistance to unaccompanied minors who recently immigrated to the United States as “human trafficking,” and is charging adults, often close family members, with the crime.
When someone refers to a bill containing massive collateral damage as “narrowly targeted,” they’re either being ignorant or disingenuous. No one knows how to exploit legislation better than government agencies, and ICE calling acts of aid “human trafficking” (or “sex trafficking,” according to the Oakland PD police chief) allows it to utilize local law enforcement and bypass local restrictions.
This is an IRL example of the exploitability of the terminology tied to SESTA. It’s apparently being abused to allow local law enforcement agencies to violate local laws. Letting legislation like SESTA loose on the internet will result in similar abusive acts, accelerating mission creep’s inevitable advance.