Jeffrey Epstein, Alex Acosta, Cutting the Budget for Trafficking Investigations and How Many Children at Risk?

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VIDEO: https://publish.dvlabs.com/democracynow/360/dn2019-0711.mp4?start=3214.0

Alex Acosta Enabled Jeffrey Epstein’s Sex Crimes. Now He’s Gutting Funding for Trafficking Victims 

During a press conference Wednesday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta dismissed calls for his resignation and defended the 2008 plea deal given to the billionaire serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein while he was the U.S. attorney in Florida. Acosta has also come under fire for his proposal to cut funding for victims of sex trafficking. His 2020 budget proposal for the Department of Labor includes an almost 80% decrease in funds for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the office tasked with fighting child sex trafficking. Critics of the proposal argue it would effectively dismantle many programs aimed at preventing child sex trafficking and put large numbers of children at risk. We speak with Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is rejecting calls to resign and is defending his role in a 2008 plea deal given to the wealthy serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein. At the time, Acosta was a U.S. prosecutor in Florida. The Miami Herald has described the plea deal as, quote, “one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex offender in history.”

AMY GOODMAN: Acosta has also come under fire for his proposal to cut funding for victims of sex trafficking. His 2020 budget proposal for the Department of Labor includes an almost 80% decrease in funds for International Labor Affairs Bureau. Acosta was questioned when he held an almost hour news conference to justify the extremely lenient deal he made with Epstein back in 2008 when he was the U.S. attorney in Florida. But this is what he said when questioned about the budget around sex trafficking.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: As labor secretary, you’ve tried repeatedly to cut a program that deals with human trafficking in the Labor Department by up to 80%, going before Congress advocating for that. Why should people trust you to focus on human trafficking and protect victims, if you’ve done that? And I’d like a follow-up question.

LABOR SECRETARY ALEXANDER ACOSTA: So, you’re referring to grants that go to foreign countries, for foreign country labor-related work. As part of the budget every year, those grants have been removed, as have other grants for foreign countries. And let me just add, as part of the budget every year, those grants are put right back in by Congress. This is what happens in Washington. And I fully suspect that those grants will remain in this year.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Alex Acosta’s record, we’re joined now by Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

We’re not as much talking right now about the case of Jeffrey Epstein, which we talked about over the last few days, but this issue of his cutting of the budget. Can you explain what this means?

TAINA BIEN-AIMÉ: So, the Department of Labor has a bureau called ILAB, which is the International Labor Affairs Bureau. And their primary responsibility is to combat forced labor, child trafficking, both labor and sex trafficking, and human trafficking in general. So, what Secretary Acosta is saying, that it goes primarily—that this money goes primarily to international programs, is correct, but it also goes to domestic programs.

So, if he slashes—so, he has a budget of $68 million. What he is proposing is for the bureau, ILAB, to be reduced by 80%, to $18 million. Congress will fight him on that; the Appropriations Committee will fight him on that. But what it means is that we are faced with an administration that wants to reduce its efforts to this very complex human rights violation called human trafficking. So, it’s not just jeopardizing the work that we are doing to combat child sex trafficking, but also child labor trafficking. So, many of—the State Department also works on human trafficking and also provides services and programs to combat it, but they rely on DOL, on the Department of Labor, and specifically for child labor trafficking.

So, for instance, cocoa production, right? So, there are three major U.S. companies—Hershey, Mars and Nestlé—that cannot even—they committed to ensuring to the consumers that no child labor trafficking is involved in the production of cocoa. What will happen to those commitments? Right? We don’t even know whether they are fulfilling their commitments to ensure that whenever you buy a bag of M&M’s or Skittles, that that doesn’t involve child trafficking.

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The “Righteous” Rebbitzin, “Limitless Horrors”, “Where’s the Kid” – Yael’s Case and Human Trafficking

Baby Trafficking and Follow Up Commentary –

From the Times of Israel

2. Where’s the kid? And without stealing a baby, which is allegedly what a couple in New York did in a case that was cleared for publication on Wednesday.

  • According to court documents and media reports, the wife of a rabbi from northern Israel was under investigation for her suspected role in having a pregnant woman identified only as “Yael,” who because of an unspecified mental condition was placed under the woman’s care, fly to New York for what she was told was a medical procedure. Instead, she was taken to a local clinic with ties to the local ultra-Orthodox community, where her baby was delivered by C-section and given to a childless couple, who returned with it to Israel.

  • Police believe Yael’s case is not an isolated one, and is part of a human trafficking network that has been operating in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community for some time.

  • The case, called “where’s the kid,” was originally opened because of an expose in Yedioth, but gagged until the court responded to a request by the Walla news site to have the case files opened.

  • “I’ve seen a lot of bad cases and this is the worst. The worst of the worst,” an unnamed “professional” who is close to the case tells the news site.

  • Yedioth describes the case as “limitless horrors.”

  • Meanwhile, Maariv runs a headline quoting the lawyer for the rabbi’s wife calling her “righteous.” “There was no kidnapping,” the attorney is quoted saying.

Rebbetzin, Infant Trafficking, Child Abduction and Israel

REBBETZIN SUSPECTED OF INFANT TRAFFICKING

The affair of infant trafficking was revealed yesterday, after the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court partially lifted the gag order on the affair, which involved a rebbetzin from the northern region who served as guardian for a mentally ill Haredi girl who was at the time of advanced pregnancy.

Allegedly, the girl, with the assistance of the rebbetzin, was taken abroad and taken to a hiding place. After she gave birth to her baby, he was handed over to a foreign family.The main suspicion now is that the rebbetzin exceeded the “mandate” given to her by the court with regard to her guardianship, by smuggling her abroad and transferring her baby to strangers. Attorney Yali Shperling, who represents the suspected rabbi, was interviewed Thursday morning at the Army Radio and made it clear that his client denies any connection to the suspicions attributed to her.

“The Haredi girl was problematic. The rebbetzin was trying to help her and rehabilitate her. Bad people, and I say this gently, tried to get her to her nuclear family to take care of her. The rebbetzin, a virtuous and veritable woman, contacted the girl’s family in the United States, went with her there, and was with her at birth. It has nothing to do with adoption. In the United States, when there is someone who is mentally hurt, they take the child, she does not know about the adoption, and she has nothing to do with it.”

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“It has nothing to do with adoption and kidnapping. There was no kidnapping at all. There are things I can not talk about right now. The girl stayed in the US and returned only at a later stage. ” Yesterday it was reported that during the investigation it emerged that the adoptive parents were Israeli spouses from a well-to-do family, and the police believe that the rebbetzin reached them via intermediaries. The police and the State Prosecutor’s Office are still examining whether the case is being transferred to the criminal field, and this is also why in the last two years the affair was under a gag order.

Meyer Rosner, from Williamsburg, Charged with Kidnapping – Bail Denied

Aaron Rosner (center) and the two children he allegedly kidnapped: 14-year-old Yante Teller (left) and her 12-year old brother Chaim Teller (right)

READ IT: FBI Charges Williamsburg Man With Assisting Lev Tahor Kidnapping; Bail DENIED

 

(FULL DOCUMENT IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)

The FBI has charged the Williamsburg man arrested last week with assisting the Lev Tahor cult in kidnapping two children from their family in upstate New York, and conspiring to transport them to Mexico.

As YWN reported Monday, Aaron Yeshaya Rosner was arrested on Motzei Shabbos. Days before, his brother, Meyer Rosner was arrested by Interpol and the FBI in Mexico, along with 4 other alleged leaders of the cult.

“He’s the ambassador of Lev Tahor to the US,” a community source said of Aaron Rosner, as reported by The NY Post.

Aaron is being charged in connection with the kidnapping of 14-year-old Yante Teller and her 12-year old brother Chaim Teller. YWN previously reported that the siblings were kidnapped on a Shabbos morning (December 8, 2018) in the town of Woodridge. The teens were last seen getting into a vehicle in front of the home at around 2:56AM, and then driving away.

[PIDYON SHVUYIM?! Is There a Mitzvah To Assist The Imprisoned Lev Tahor Cult Leaders? – Halachic Analysis]

In the indictment, the FBI says that Rosner “unlawfully seized, confined, inveigled, decoyed, kidnapped, abducted and carried away and held for ransom and reward and otherwise, a person when the person was willfully transported in interstate and foreign commerce…. Aron Rosner participated in a scheme to kidnap two victims in Woodridge, New York and unlawfully transport the victims to Mexico”.

The FBI agent leading the investigation notes he has learned that “Lev Tahor is a group comprised of ultra-Orthodox Jews mostly living in Guatemala. I have further reviewed news reports indicating that children in Lev Tahor are often subject to sexual, physical or emotional abuse.”

The indictment discusses previous YWN reporting, involving the children’s mother escaping the cult and travelling to the United States, where she was later reunited with her children. She was granted full custody of the children on December 13.

[At the time that YWN published the first report that the children had been kidnapped ON SHABBOS, many doubted YWN and called the story “fake news”. YWN apologizes for our earlier error in reporting that the children were kidnapped in a vehicle at 3:32AM, as the FBI has now confirmed it was in fact at 2:56AM on Shabbos morning. Our apologies.]

The indictment states that the kidnapped children left the country through an airport located near Scranton, Pennsylvania. They were accompanied by an unnamed man, and traveled to Mexico City.

The children and their chaperone were disguised in odd clothing confirmed to have been purchased just days before, including some with “superman logos” on it. The clothing was purchased in Seacaus, New Jersey by two men wearing traditional Hasidic garb.

The indictment states that Aaron Rosner arranged for 7 wire transfers to contacts in Mexico throughout December, totaling $3550. He is known to have arranged conference calls among Lev Tahor leaders involved in the kidnapping plot. They discussed the purchase of flights, bus tickets, credit cards and food, as well as hotel rooms in Mexico.

Rosner also participated in a discussion about obtaining passports after having overstayed in Mexico “by putting money into the passport before handing it over to the person at customs and asking them to backdate it for you”.

YWN has learned that Aaron Rosner has been denied bail. He is also believed to have driven the vehicle transporting the kidnapped children from Woodridge to the airport in Scranton, on Shabbos R”L.

Additionally, YWN has learned that several of the co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment – Hasidic Jews from New York – may be cooperating with the investigation.

levtahorindictment

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