The U.S.-Mexican border and trafficking

Smuggling and trafficking of both adults and children can be seen as both a cause and effect of the chaos at the Mexican-U.S. border.  On the 6/24/18 CBS program "60 Minutes," it was reported that, "Immediately after President Trump's inauguration in 2017, arrests of illegal immigrants on the southwest border plummeted to lows that hadn't been seen in years. But three months later, with immigration reform stalled in Congress, the numbers started climbing again and have now returned to average. That comes to about half a million immigrants arrested each year. As we first reported in March, a great deal has changed on the border. Because of increased enforcement and the control of the drug cartels on the Mexican side, human smuggling has developed to an industrial scale. Illegal immigrants, in the hands of professional smugglers, find themselves trapped in a system of cruelty, neglect and death."

It's a situation that has been building steam for several years.  In 2014, the Obama administration expedited movement of migrant children out of government shelters.  According to"The Associated Press reported two years ago that in April 2014 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relaxed its safety standards to promptly move migrant children out of government shelters and into sponsors’ homes when waves of illegal aliens surged across the southern border.  However, according to the AP’s reporting, the lowered standards resulted in children landing in unsafe homes where they were “sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay.”  The AP found almost 30 children who were placed with “caregivers” who exposed them to sexual abuse, labor trafficking, abuse or neglect." further states that, "HHS lowered standards by ceasing required fingerprinting of much of the adults claiming children as theirs. In April 2014, HHS ceased asking for original copies of birth certificates from most sponsors to prove who they were. In May 2014, the AP noted, HHS stopped filling out forms that asked for sponsors’ identifying information prior to placing any of the children in the sponsors’ residence. Finally, the agency ended FBI background checks of the caregivers they were sending the migrant children to. HHS estimated that around 90,000 migrant children were placed into sponsor care between 2013 and 2015, but the agency did not know how many of those children were trafficked because the department failed to keep track of them after their placement.  (Emphasis added.)

A search of verifies that children were trafficked in 2014: "A congressional report and criminal indictment resulted from a 2014 incident in which multiple immigrant children were handed off to a human trafficking ring."

Snopes says, "In July 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted a ring of traffickers lead by Aroldo Castillo-Serrano and accused them of smuggling children into the United States. They were also accused of lying to Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) by posing as relatives in order to gain custody of children in its care and use them for forced labor in Marion, a city north of Columbus. The federal indictment, filed in U.S. district court in Ohio accuses Castillo-Serrano and his conspirators of forcing the children to live in squalid trailers and work six or seven 12-hour days a week, using threats and physical violence as coercion."

Snopes further explains, "The case spurred a Senate subcommittee investigation led by Rob Portman (R-Ohio) which concluded the processes used by ORR to screen sponsors “are inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care. ...As a result of the investigation, HHS and the Department of Homeland Security entered into an agreement to hammer out a joint plan that would address the issues raised in the report. As of 26 April 2018, that still had not happened according to Portman, who released a statement blasting the agencies for their failure to take action."

That failure to take action has made things worse.  On 6/23/18, DMLNewsfeatured "...a moving, personal account posted by a Border Patrol wife."  It shares the horrors of smuggling and trafficking that U.S. Border Patrol officers are currently encountering.

What do we do?  It's a complex problem that doesn't have a quick fix.  I would suggest that we be apolitical and pro-solution.  In our politically divided nation it's time for all Americans -- conservative, liberal, independent, whatever -- to demand that our president, representatives and senators, and all government agencies involved set aside the finger pointing and partisanship and get to work together to fix this horrible problem.  Today.  Not tomorrow.  People are suffering, being trafficked, and dying. 

And you and I can and must pray.  Prayer does make a difference.  James 5:16says, "...the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." 

Men, women, and children we've never met are depending on us.

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit



Would you like to help investigate the possibility of a Hope4Justice billboard in Whatcom County?  Contact Karen to discuss details.


The next public meeting of Hope4Justice will be in the fall of 2018.  The specific date and information about meeting content will be included in this weekly email as far in advance as possible.





In Our Backyard: A Christian Perspective on Human Trafficking in the United States by Nita Belles

This book invites the reader in to the lives of human trafficking victims, survivors and the traffickers themselves with true stories. These stories not only inform the reader, but also take them quickly through a well-documented crash course about human trafficking–better described as modern-day slavery–in the United States. A quick read which includes study questions for small groups, In Our Backyard could change your life and save lives around you.

Many Washington teens are missing, vulnerable to sex trafficking

KIRO7 News, updated June 5, 2018

As reported by KIRO7 News, "For weeks, media outlets reported on a Bonney Lake teenager who disappeared on May 9 and is safe tonight. But many more teens are still missing, including three girls whose cases did not receive the same level of attention. All three disappeared around the same time, late April and early May. And they are still missing."

"Seattle police say on any day, they have 50 to 60 active missing persons cases; about half involve children.  According to the advocacy group REST or Real Escape from the Sex Trade, one in three runaways is recruited by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home. The average age of these runaways? Just 15 years old."

And most often, says (Kyra) Doubek, they are found by predators trolling the internet even before they leave home.  "They look for these people posting sad posts," she says. "It's not that they're bad kids. As my colleague says they're sad kids, they're not bad kids."

Sixteen-year-old Shianna Victoria Elkins ran away from Mount Vernon on April 19. Elkins is described as a ''chronic runaway.'' Seven days later, Ximena Delgado ran away from her Spokane home. Police believe the 16-year-old is with her boyfriend. Seventeen-year-old Hannah Turkington from Vancouver, Washington, ran away two days after the Bonney Lake teen. Police describe her, too, as a "chronic runaway."

What does that mean for you and I?  What can we do?  Being involved in the lives of kids and caring about them -- as coaches, youth group volunteers, scout or 4-H leaders, etc. -- can make a huge difference.  Being the home on the block where neighborhood kids are welcome and adults listen can provide a lifeline when life gets tough.  

And sometimes young people need you to be their lifeline.

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit 

The next public meeting of Hope4Justice will be in the fall of 2018.  The specific date and information about meeting content will be included in this weekly email as far in advance as possible.


Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children (A Call to Action) by Linda Smith

The inspiration for the USA – Motel room in SOLD, this book reveals the underbelly of our country’s commercial sex trade. Get to know the men who sell them, and the ones who buy them. Let Renting Lacy draw you into the lives of these young girls as they struggle to survive each night, watching their childhood hopes and dreams slip away in the darkness. Let it compel you to action.

(Information from Mirror Ministries website.)

Our Children And Porn

A major concern of parents is exposure of their children to online pornography.  That concern is well founded.  According to, "The average age that children are exposed to pornography is eleven."  And viewing pornography definitely has negative effects on children. gives the following points about children viewing pornography:

  • "Pornography gives children unrealistic ideas about sex (often that violence is appropriate and women are to be subjugated) and the opposite gender, affecting their ability to develop healthy relationships.  It becomes difficult to form intimate relationships beyond sexual arousal and pleasure.
  • With over 90% of youth ages 12-18 using the Internet, the media has arguably become the leading sex educator in the U.S. today instead of parents and school education programs.
  • Children exposed to pornography tend to engage in sexual acts at younger ages, resulting in increased STDs, unwanted pregnancy and many other emotional consequences.
  • 90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed porn online, most admit that it is while doing homework."

What can parents do?  Checking out and purchasing parental control software is one step, however that only puts filters on personal devices.  A June 7, 2018 email from The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) explains how they are working on a broader front: "The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has been making progress with corporate policy advocacy because we contend that no organization or corporation should profit from, or contribute to, sexual exploitation.  

During June 2018, NCOSE staff, "...are meeting separately with executives at Google and with executives at Comcast! Both companies are starting to make improvements to filtering systems that will allow families and individuals to avoid pornography. We are meeting to thank them for these efforts, and to give them suggestions for the most important improvements."

Steps toward measures of control over the porn that is so easily accessible via modern technology is vital to the well-being of our children.  We applaud the work of NCOSE!  (Learn more about their efforts at

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit

So what's the connection between porn and trafficking? 
A 6/8/18 Facebook post by Pornography Harms explains it this way, 'When people say they don't care about the problem of pornography, but they're concerned about sex trafficking or sexual violence, I want to ask them 'What industry do you think is normalizing these crimes and giving some men the idea that they're entitled to women's bodies any time they want?'  The connection is crystal clear.  #Pornography creates and drives the demand for trafficked women, children, and men. #pornharms #endexploitation"

Learn more at

The next public meeting of Hope4Justice will be in the fall of 2018.  The specific date and information about meeting content will be included in this weekly email as far in advance as possible.


The Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World by Gary Haugen

For those struggling to make sense of the pain and injustice in this world from a Christian point of view. This book offers a biblical perspective on justice and answers the question: how can we as Christians bring hope to these individuals?

Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time by Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn

For men who want to conquer sexual temptation and become Defenders. Many have found Every Man’s Battle the single greatest resource for overcoming the struggle and remaining strong in the face of temptation.

(Information from Mirror Ministries website.)

Nine mobile apps parents -- and others -- should know about Developed by the Sarasota County (FL) Sheriff's Office

A May 29, 2018 Facebook post by the Sarasota Florida Sheriff's Office shows a graphic of nine mobile apps that all of us should be aware of.  The post says, "In response to #OperationIntercept SCSO which led to the arrest of 21 men engaging in illicit, criminal behavior with children online, we developed this graphic to inform parents of nine mobile applications they should know about. By SHARING this graphic, you too, can help protect our next generation."

Operation Intercept, an initiative to protect Sarasota County children from online predators, resulted in the arrest of twenty one suspects ranging from ages 22-58 that "... responded to Internet-based ads, online apps or social media sites and engaged in sexually explicit written and verbal conversations."

The graphic gives brief descriptions of the following apps: Bumble, Liveme,, Snapchat, Holla, Calculator%, Kik, Whisper, and Hot or Not.  Parents are urged to learn about the apps and be aware of the potential risks associated with each one.  Concerns range from being known for cyber bullying to Whisper promoting sharing of secrets with strangers to Kik allowing anyone anywhere to contact and direct message your child.  Learn about all nine apps HERE

The potential for harm to our children is huge.  Please share this information and help protect our kids from cyber abuse, luring into trafficking, bullying and more.

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit


Kennady, a new Hope4Justice volunteer recently stepped up to take on the task of sending a weekly prayer letter to those interested in regular prayer for Engedi Refuge Ministries.  We are so glad for her willingness to help in this way!  

If you'd like to subscribe to the Engedi Prayer Group letter, contact us

The next public meeting of Hope4Justice will be in the fall of 2018.  The specific date and information about meeting content will be included in this weekly email as far in advance as possible.


Deepening the Soul for Justice by Bethany Hoang

The challenges of global injustice can be overwhelming. The pain is real; the violence dark. Many well-intentioned Christians get burned out. What can you do to stay in the game? Bethany Hoang, director of International Justice Mission’s IJM Institute, has seen firsthand how spiritual formation can fuel our response to God’s call to justice–from the inside out. Hoang shares spiritual practices honed on the frontlines of the fight for justice–guideposts for an inward journey that can propel a disciple outward, empowering the difficult work of justice. Seeking the God of justice can be a catalyst for spiritual growth and deeper personal discipleship. Discover spiritual disciplines for the justice-seeker and renew and invigorate your own justice journey. Includes questions for group discussion.

(Information from Mirror Ministries website.)