In 2019, Ex-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta Sought To Cut Anti Sex Trafficking Funds

Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr (cropped)

JakeThomas

US Labor secretary Alexander Acosta had proposed a drastic cut that would put the lives of children at risk.

According to the Guardian, in 2019, US labor secretary Alexander Acosta, who granted Jeffrey Epstein immunity from federal prosecution in 2008, proposed “80% funding cuts for the government agency that combats child sex trafficking.”

  • Acosta’s plan “to slash funding of a critical federal agency in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children is contained in his financial plans for the Department of Labor for fiscal year 2020,” the Guardian wrote. “In it, he proposes decimating the resources of a section of his own department known as the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB).”
  • The bureau’s budget would “fall from $68m last year to just $18.5m. The proposed reduction is so drastic that experts say it would effectively kill off many federal efforts to curb sex trafficking and put the lives of large numbers of children at risk.”
  • ILAB “has the task of countering human trafficking, child labor and forced labor across the US and around the world,” the Guardian wrote. “Its mission is ‘to promote a fair global playing field for workers’ and it is seen as a crucial leader in efforts to crack down on the sex trafficking of minors.”
  • Katherine Clark, a congresswoman from Massachusetts, explained that when “seen alongside the sweetheart plea deal he granted Epstein in 2008, when Acosta was the US attorney in Miami,” this “indicated that the labor secretary did not see protecting vulnerable children as a priority,” the Guardian reported.

“This is now a pattern,” Clark told the Guardian. “Like so many in this administration Mr Acosta chooses the powerful and wealthy over the vulnerable and victims of sexual assault and it is time that he finds another line of work.”

  • In 2019, Acosta faced “mounting pressure from Democrats to resign, over the lenient deal he gave Epstein and in the wake of billionaire’s new prosecution,” the report continued. “Under the 2008 deal negotiated by Acosta, an FBI investigation that had produced a 53-page draft indictment involving more than 30 potential underage victims was shut down. The billionaire only had to plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting women who were controversially labeled prostitutes. Epstein ended up serving 13 months in a Florida jail during which he was allowed out six days a week to attend his plush business offices.”
  • President Trump spoke to reporters in the Oval Office last year, where he “praised Acosta as an ‘excellent secretary of labor’” and said: “The rest of it we’ll have to look at very carefully but you are talking about a long time ago.”
  • The Guardian wrote that the “battle over the future of ILAB is ongoing. Acosta’s proposed cuts were imported into Trump’s $4.7tn federal budget, released in March, which contains several Republican goals including extra money for the military and funding of the president’s beloved border wall.”
  • The Democrats “have responded with a 2020 House budget that passed in June [2019]. It would see ILAB resources expand to $122m.”

“Congress ultimately makes the decisions about how money is spent and appropriated,” said Clark. “We will prevail and the bureau will not be shuttered if we can get this item through Congress.”

Read the full report here.

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