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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after signing Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation in the Oval Office on January 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

'Divorced from reality'

Trump’s repeated claims about women being bound and gagged with tape leave experts puzzled

By WITW Staff on January 18, 2019

Over the past two weeks, President Donald Trump has taken to repeatedly claiming that traffickers have been tying up and silencing women with tape before illegally driving them across the U.S.-Mexico border. Over time, Trump has characterized such events as commonplace and grown increasingly elaborate in his descriptions — baffling experts who say that trafficking never occurs in such a way and raising questions about where Trump dredged up the strange and salacious anecdote.

“Human trafficking — grabbing women, in particular — and children, but women — taping them up, wrapping tape around their mouths so they can’t shout or scream, tying up their hands behind their back and even their legs and putting them in a back seat of a car or a van — three, four, five, six, seven at a time,” Trump told Cabinet members on January 11. Over the last 12 days, Trump has told similar versions of that account at least eight times.

Speaking to The Washington Post, nine aid workers and academics who have worked on the border or specialized in human trafficking expressed bewilderment about Trump’s uncorroborated claim.

“I think his statements are completely divorced from reality,” said Ashley Huebner, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

“I have no idea the roots of it,” added Edna Yang, assistant executive director of Texas-based immigration advocacy nonprofit American Gateways. “I haven’t seen a case like that.”

According to experts, while it is possible that female trafficking victims have been bound or gagged near the border, trafficked women typically cross into the U.S. willingly, lured by false promises of work and “unaware that they’re walking into a trafficking situation.”

“It’s clear that he just doesn’t have an understanding of what happens at the border,” said Yang of Trump. “I think that all President Trump is doing is pushing a wall. A wall is not going to stop individuals fleeing to the United States when home conditions are terrible. He’s just trying different tactics to get what he wants.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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