WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The White House is launching a $35 million grant program to help victims of human trafficking find safe housing.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr and White House adviser Ivanka Trump announced the grant program Tuesday, saying the money will be split up among 73 organizations in 33 states. It will be used to shelter survivors for between six months and 2 years, paying for rent, utilities and critical counseling services.
“Survivors of human trafficking will be able to count on a safe place to stay,” Barr said.
Survivors and advocates like Tanya Gould say the funds will provide a vital lifeline for those living in the shadows.
“I remember thinking, ‘I wish there was a place that I could go to just rest, learn about myself and start over again,'” Gould said at the event with Barr and Ivanka Trump.
But while many victim advocates are praising the effort, critics say the Trump administration’s immigration policies undermine the initiative.
“If they (immigrants) can’t do it the legal way, they’ll turn to smugglers. … Smugglers can very quickly become traffickers,” Yael Schacher of Refugees International, one of several groups that boycotted the administration’s summit on human trafficking earlier this year.
The Trump administration says it is also dedicating millions more to enhance prosecutions and help states and cities crack down on trafficking.