The Trump Administration Quietly Defunded Legal Services For Trafficking Victims–Huffington Post

Jenavieve Hatch

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The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime sets federal funding aside to assist crime victims, including the victims of human trafficking. Up until this month, in addition to services like health care, education and employment, the funds also covered legal representation ― which human trafficking victims have used to get their criminal records expunged or dismissed. More than 90 percent of human trafficking victims are arrested for crimes like prostitution, truancy or drug possession when they are being trafficked.

But the most recent iteration of the Office for Victims of Crime’s budget, released on June 25, added new language:

“OVC funding may not be used for criminal defense services,” it reads. “Direct representation on vacatur or expungement matters through court filings or through other litigation services, is NOT an allowable cost under this cooperative agreement or with FY 2018 funds.”

Assistance in paying for legal aid is essential to victims’ recovery process, wrote more than 100 trafficking survivors in a letter to the OVC on Friday.

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