White House East Room Washington D.C. January 31 12:21 P.M. EST
Well, thank you very much. Please. Thank you. (Applause.) And I want to thank you all for being here as we mark the 20th anniversary of Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Very important.
Twenty years ago, this nation took a historic step to protect the victims of this form of modern-day slavery here in the United States and all around the world. My administration is 100 percent committed to eradicating human trafficking from the Earth.
I am pleased to be joined this afternoon by Vice President Mike Pence and the members of my Cabinet: Attorney General William Barr; Secretary Gene Scalia - hello, Gene; Secretary Alex Azar, who is very busy - and I'm going to see you in a little while, right? Unfortunately, for this - in this case. Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, great job with those numbers. Great job, Chad. Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun. Hi, Stephen.
And thanks also to Representatives Chris Smith, Ann Wagner, Michael McCaul, and Chip Roy for being with us. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
And we have a lot of great senators that wanted to be here so desperately, but I said, "Just stay where you are and do you job, please." (Laughter.)
We also have with us Ambassadors Callista Gingrich - hi, Callista. (Applause.) Sam Brownback and John Richmond. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
And Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray. Christopher. Thank you, Chris. (Applause.) And we have Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr - very active. Thank you very much, Chris. Thank you very much. (Applause.) And Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. Thank you. Thank you, Ashley. Thank you, Ashley. (Applause.)
Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez. (Applause.) And First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott. (Applause.) I just saw your husband, by the way. I just saw your great husband. Great gentleman.
And North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. Thank you very much. Thank you, Dan. Great. (Applause.)
And I am especially grateful to Ivanka for her unwavering efforts. She has taken this under her wing. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, honey.
Ivanka has been a champion for administrative and legislative actions to combat human trafficking. And a true heart - she has - this issue has been so important to her. This, and making sure people are ready to work. And she has now created over 15 million jobs for the people of our country - one of the reasons our unemployment numbers are the best ever. Fifteen million. (Applause.)
And I would say that this issue may be closest to her heart because of the level of evil that you would never believe is even possible in a modern age. The level of evil is incredible.
So I just want to thank Ivanka for - for both of the things that you are really focused on. Thank you very much, honey. I appreciate it. (Applause.) Fifteen million jobs. It was going to be 500,000. "Daddy, I think we can do 500,000." Within about a week, she broke that, and now she is up 15 million jobs. It's a fantastic thing. (Applause.) I'm not - I'm not surprised, Mike. We're not surprised.
We are also honored to have with us several extraordinary survivors of human trafficking. And I want to thank you all for being here. And you'll come up when we sign, and it's going to be my great honor to say hello and shake your hand. And your courage really inspires us all. I want to just let you know that.
As the men and women in this room know, human trafficking is a problem everywhere - a worldwide problem. Human trafficking is worse than ever before, and that's because of the Internet. I've heard from Bill Barr, and I've heard from others, that the Internet has caused lots of good things to happen and lots of really bad things. And this is probably the worst of the bad things. And it's an incredible thing.
An estimated 25 million people around the world today are being held captive, manipulated, and abused by human traffickers.
In 2018 alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified over 23,000 human trafficking victims in the United States. Sixty-five percent of these victims were women. More than one in five were children. Human traffickers prey on their most vulnerable citizens and people. They're vicious. They're violent.
My administration is fighting these monsters, persecuting and prosecuting them, and locking them away for a very, very long time. We've had a tremendous track record - the best track record in a long time.
We are dismantling the criminal organizations that make largescale human trafficking possible. In my first month in office, I instructed federal agencies to go out and just do what you have to do. All federal departments are doing what they do to identify and destroy these groups. And we are destroying a lot of them. Unfortunately, they come back very quickly in a different form.
In 2018, the Department of Justice shut down the leading site for online sex trafficking. The DOJ prosecuted a number of violent crimes. That now is a record number. In the last three years, ICE has arrested over 5,000 human traffickers. And I want to thank ICE. They have been incredible. These are great, great people. (Applause.) Great. Great people. They're tough, they're brave, and they love our country.
Overseas, we have also seen historic prog- - really, progress, incredible progress working with us and using our intelligence with them.
When I took office, ISIS controlled over 20,000 square miles of territory and perpetrated some of the most heinous forms of human trafficking anywhere in the world. As you know, we've totally defeated the ISIS caliphate in Syria, in Iraq. And it's 100 percent.
We have thousands and thousands of prisoners - ISIS prisoners. And it's really been something that's been rather incredible. And we did that rather quickly, because when we came in, as an administration, it was all over. And we have 100 percent of the caliphate. They're bloodthirsty. They're horrible.
The founder and leader, al-Baghdadi, who was trying to rebuild ISIS, is now dead. We got him and that was a big thing. (Applause.) That was a big thing, and not an easy thing. He was hiding and they've been after him for 15 years, but we got him.
My administration is putting unprecedented pressure on traffickers at home and abroad, and we are freeing innocent victims at every single turn.
I was proud to be the first Commander-in-Chief to attend a meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. In November, I was also the first President to sign an executive order to establish a Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. (Applause.) Just signed it. And this has a very special focus on women and girls. That's an incredible thing that's been happening, but we just signed it.
I've signed nine pieces of bipartisan legislation aimed specifically at combatting human trafficking domestically and around the globe.
And in 2018, I signed legislation strengthening the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign, which unified the Department's fight against this crisis and - increasing public awareness every single day. We have signed more legislation on human trafficking, by far, than any other administration has even thought about. We enacted bills. (Applause.) Thank you. And we'll do what's necessary. We will do exactly what's necessary. There's nothing more horrible than this.
We enacted bills to fight sex trafficking, increase support for survivors, and raise the standards by which we judge whether other countries are meeting their duty to fight human trafficking. And you have countries that talk and they talk. They're like politicians in Washington. (Laughter.) They keep talking; they do nothing about it. They do nothing about it.
Read the full transcript HERE
You can visit a collection of all White House posts by clicking here.