Meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
I want to thank the many members of the President’s cabinet for joining us here today for the first meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Thanks to the President’s leadership, this administration has taken historic action to end the scourge of human trafficking, the gravest of human rights abuses. Today we gather to report on the crucial progress we’ve made by working across the government and with the courageous survivors who serve on our Advisory Council.
To the survivors who join us here today, thank you. Thank you for giving a voice to the millions of people who have endured the unthinkable. You have turned your suffering into heroic resolve, and with your leadership, we will end modern slavery.
Human trafficking devastates people of all ages and backgrounds, splintering communities, distorting global markets, and threatening public safety and national security everywhere. Human trafficking is estimated to generate over $150 billion – billion dollars – in annual profits, making it one of the most lucrative illegal industries worldwide. We must remove the economic incentive that motivates traffickers and hold the perpetrators accountable for these heinous crimes.
Over the last year, we have hosted many roundtables and listening sessions here at the White House with survivors, with NGOs, with members of Congress to find new and effective ways to eradicate human trafficking here in the United States and around the world. At the UN General Assembly meetings last year, I joined Prime Minister Theresa May and more than 20 world leaders to reinforce our shared commitment to end modern-day slavery. We have seen extraordinary bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, with more than 20 pieces of anti-trafficking legislation passed in Congress and more on the way.
In April, the President signed legislation known as SESTA-FOSTA to end online sex trafficking into law, which was further reinforced in the recently agreed to U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, USMCA. And this week, I joined the Vice President in welcoming Nadia Murad here at the White House to congratulate her on winning the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her incredible work combating sexual violence and human trafficking as a weapon of war.
This administration will be relentless in the fight to stop the barbaric perpetrators of these crimes and bring justice to survivors here at home and abroad. Together, we will continue the work to end human trafficking in all of its evil forms and deliver a future of freedom and hope to people around the world.
Now I would like to thank the chair of this task force, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and for the first time in this meeting’s history, it is my honor to introduce to you the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Please. Thank you very much. Thank you. It’s a great honor. Thank you very much.
And thank you to Ivanka for the wonderful introduction. She knows me well, and also very importantly on the tremendous work you’ve done on this on behalf of human trafficking victims and survivors all over the world. Very important subject and incredibly, with the age of the computer, it’s gotten worse and worse and worse every year. And we’re going to turn that around.
This is an urgent humanitarian issue. My administration is committed to leveraging every resource we have to confront this threat, to support the victims and survivors, and to hold traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes.
Before going any further today, I’d like to provide an update on Hurricane Michael, which made landfall along Florida’s great Panhandle – incredible people in the Panhandle, and they went through a lot. Followed a really destructive path, then to Georgia and North and South Carolina. Our prayers are with those who lost their lives and with their families, and our hearts are with the thousands who have sustained property damage, in many cases entirely wiped out – the many families who have been displaced and the businesses that have been affected by this devastating hurricane. All residents should heed all local warnings and instructions.
My administration is in constant contact with state and local authorities in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. FEMA and first responders are on the ground, and we have teams currently conducting search and rescue missions – by the way, the Coast Guard has been incredible. They’ve saved many lives – working to restore power and delivering needed supplies. We will do everything in our power to help those in need, and we will not rest or waver until the job is done and the recovery is complete.
The only thing we can say about Michael with certainty is that it was so fast. It went through like a bullet, but it was a devastating bullet. It was complete. It was winds about as big as we’ve ever seen in history. We’ve never had anything like this. So I just want to thank everybody for working so hard and for FEMA, first responders, and law enforcement. They have been incredible, incredible. Thank you very much.
Today we’re gathered together for a truly important mission: ending the scourge of human trafficking. Joining us are top officials from across our government who are deeply engaged in this effort. Also, Senator Rob Portman is with us someplace. Rob, thank you very much for coming.
I’d like to just introduce a few of the people that have worked so hard: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary Nielsen – Secretary, thank you, good job. I know you’re working very hard on this. Ryan Zinke – Ryan, thank you, thank you. Alex Acosta, thank you very much. Rod Rosenstein – thank you, Rod. Alex Azar, thank you very much. Great job you’re doing. Thank you, Alex. Elaine Chao – thank you, Elaine. And Betsy DeVos, thank you. Thank you very much, along with Ambassadors Nikki Haley – and what a job you’ve done. Thank you very much, Nikki, and you know how we feel. Bob Lighthizer – thanks, Bob. Dan Coats and Director Chris Wray, thank you, thank you. Thank you, Chris, very much. Appreciate it very much. You really – you’re making a big difference and you’ll make an even bigger difference, because we’re making it a lot easier for you now. We’re going to give you what you need to get this done as much as you can. It’s a tough one.
Thank you as well to Representative Ann Wagner, who has been a great leader in the fight against human trafficking. Thank you, Ann, very much. Thank you very much.
Most importantly, I want to thank the courageous survivors of human trafficking for joining us today. From the beginning of my administration, I promised we would direct the full might and force of the United States Government to combat the sinister crime of trafficking, and that is exactly what we are doing. We’re working to aggressively target traffickers and to protect the victims of this inhumane abuse.
In my first month in office, I signed an executive order directing federal law enforcement to prioritize dismantling the criminal organizations that engage in human trafficking. I later hosted survivors and experts here at the White House on numerous occasions for a conversation about how we can strengthen and improve our nation’s anti-trafficking (inaudible).
Since the time and since that moment, the very first moment, we’ve really made tremendous strides. We’re challenging foreign regimes that facilitate this horrible evil of sex trafficking and forced labor, and we’re working to take down the criminal organizations that illegally traffic drugs and people across our border, exploiting them for their own gain.
And we are pursuing criminal charges against those who perpetrate these monstrous acts and deeds. Last year, my administration prosecuted a record number of traffickers. The Department of Health and Human Services National Human Trafficking Hotline received over 8,500 reports of potential trafficking last year, and our brave heroes at ICE have made over 1,600 human trafficking arrests. They do a great job.
I have signed several anti-trafficking bills into law, including a landmark law championed by Representative Wagner, and – Representative, where are you, please? Fantastic job, Ann. Thank you very much. Really appreciate it – to help states and victims fight online sex trafficking. Under this law, victims can now bring civil suits against websites involved in sex trafficking. It’s so important. So you can bring civil suits against these websites, and states can bring criminal charges. These provisions complement existing laws that the Department of Justice used to seize and shut down Backpage.com, the internet’s leading forum for traffickers, earlier this year. Good job. Really good job.
We also included tough forced labor provisions in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, USMCA as it’s known. A great agreement. And we are taking the lead to combat this crime internationally, having invested millions in the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, if you can believe that title. It’s to End Modern Slavery.
This is just a brief overview of our government-wide effort to smash these criminal networks and to help victims rebuild their lives. Every cabinet member here today and every member of this Presidential Task Force is fully engaged in the fight. It’s very important to every one of them. Our country will not rest until we have put these vile organizations out of business and rescued every last victim, and we will not stop until we have stamped out the menace of human trafficking once and for all.
Again, I want to thank everybody for the incredible job you’re doing, for your good work. It’s so important. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: I want to thank the President personally for being here. It’s the first time we’ve had a president come to this event, and it makes it all the more special and certainly signifies the importance of the event.
It is now my honor to welcome the recipients of the 2018 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. So let’s do it. Let’s honor them now. Ms. Minal Patel Davis has served as a special advisor on human trafficking for the mayor of Houston as well as the chair of the Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking, both since 2015. Thanks to Mrs. Patel Davis’ passion and innovative leadership, Houston has become a national model for building anti-trafficking and restructure at the municipal level. The city now boasts one of the most comprehensive and forward-leaning anti-trafficking programs anywhere in the United States.
You have been a pioneer for your city, and I’m sure Houston thanks you, as we do, for paving the way for other U.S. cities.
Thank you for coming forward, and let me now present you with the award. (Applause.)
(The Award is presented.)
MODERATOR: The Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons, presented to Minal Patel Davis, for her innovative efforts and unparalleled leadership in crafting and pioneering the City of Houston’s comprehensive and collaborative approach to combating human trafficking while – which represents a model for municipalities across the nation and around the world.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Now, if Mr. William Woolf III would please come forward. You have dedicated your life to combating human trafficking. In your 15 years as a law enforcement officer, you have assisted in the successful prosecution of more than 50 traffickers through innovative and victim-centered investigative techniques, and you’ve played a pivotal role in starting a human trafficking task force that helped 125 victims out of their trafficking situations and are now on the road to recovery.
Mr. Woolf has kept up the fight by developing an awareness campaign called Just Ask: Trafficking Prevention Project to prevent human trafficking among youth and founding education, prevention, and innovation-centered solutions to combat exploitation, where he now serves as the director.
Mr. Woolf, thank you so much for your service. We are certainly glad you decided to keep up the fight. Thank you. (Applause.)
(The Award is presented.)
MODERATOR: The Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons, presented to William Woolf III for his sustained dedication and achievements in combating human trafficking by employing a victim-centered approach to transform law enforcement efforts and equipping communities and frontline responders to more effectively address and prevent human trafficking.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good afternoon, everyone. It’s an honor to have the privilege to chair this task force (inaudible) today and his commitment to this issue. Likewise, I’m grateful to you, Ivanka, for your passionate advocacy and all of you (inaudible) front and center for the American people. Thank you.
We’re also glad to be joined – (applause) – yeah, absolutely. We’re also glad to be joined by several representatives from the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. The members of this Council have set a courageous example of service for the United States and for the world by choosing to transform their harrowing experiences with human trafficking into powerful advocacy. They’ve done a great thing. I know I speak for all of us when I say we value the Council’s recommendations and collaboration as we work to combat this crime. We look forward from – hearing from them in just a little while.
Together all of us here in this administration are committed to ending human trafficking for its estimated 25 million victims, a staggering number of people whose basic human dignity is being cruelly robbed each day. We must reinvigorate our shared commitment to holding the perpetrators of this heinous crime accountable, achieving justice for survivors as they seek to rebuild their lives, and stamping out human trafficking wherever it exists. I look forward to the continued interagency collaboration to pursue an end to this brutality together with our partners in civil society, the private sector, and of course, the survivors themselves.
It’s now my pleasure to hand it over to Kari Johnstone, who has steadfastly led our Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for over a year. She’ll brief us today on the Senior Policy Operating Group’s work.
MS JOHNSTONE: Thank you very much, Secretary Pompeo. It is an honor to join the task force members here today to report on the important work of the Senior Policy Operating Group. As partners, the federal agencies represented at this table are continually striving to improve our response to this crime by strengthening initiatives through new partnerships and stakeholders and enhancing our understanding of the issue by seeking input from key stakeholders. We know that interagency collaboration is imperative, and the Senior Policy Operating Group has made great strides in advancing the U.S. government’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
This group has reviewed key data and prevalence reports regarding human trafficking in the United States and is developing recommendations to improve federal efforts to collect, harmonize, and analyze human trafficking data. This effort is critical to ensuring anti-trafficking policies and programming are increasingly targeted and effective. Implemented procedures for agencies to improve collaboration on public awareness and education activities, including joint outreach around significant occasions, like National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, created a new resource that outlines federal anti-trafficking efforts focused on American Indian and Alaskan Native communities to enhance the coordination of agency programming and tribal engagement.
And finally, we’ve also worked closely with the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, several of whom are here today, to incorporate the survivor voice in federal anti-trafficking policies which is so vital to building more comprehensive and effective strategies. I’m sure I speak for all of us in once again saying thank you to our Council members. We are grateful for your dedication and commitment to serve on this important Council. Your recommendations have pushed us to strengthen our policies and become truly survivor-informed. We stand ready to continue this vital partnership with you and look forward to the Council’s next report. As we look ahead, we will work to ensure that strong collaboration on this crucial issue remains at the forefront of our efforts. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Kari, thank you, and we have a special guest with us as well. Earlier this year Ms. Tanya Street was appointed to the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking by President Trump. The Council has already proven to be an invaluable partner in our government-wide fight to combat human trafficking. We in this room are excited to continue working closely with each of the Council’s members over the next two years and look forward to your update.
MS STREET: Thank you. Good afternoon. My name is Tanya and I am a survivor leader and member of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and a survivor of a domestic sex trafficking experience. My experiences have brought me a tremendous amount of insight into the world of what it means to be a victim and a survivor. Many of us walk away from such experiences with courage, determination, a sense of forgiving, and a desire to seek fair justice not just for ourselves but for all survivors of trafficking, and I personally am proud to be part of such an extraordinary community and to speak to you today on behalf of the United States Advisory Council.
We are sincerely grateful to this administration in appointing nine Council members earlier this year to further our mandate to advise and provide recommendations to the federal government on anti-trafficking programs and policies. It is our great honor to continue this partnership so that together we really can make a historic and meaningful difference. Thank you for hearing our voices and trusting our advice.
For this term, the Council has created two committees to serve as focal points to guide our work and priorities. One committee focuses on underserved populations and endeavors to inform and encourage federal agencies to address specific populations that are currently under-identified, underserved, and under-recognized.
Our second committee focuses on survivor-informed leadership. This committee’s focus is on ensuring appropriate and varied survivor representation in federal anti-trafficking initiatives and products. We look forward to working with federal agencies and hope to encourage models of excellence in how to lead in service to our country and around the world to fight human trafficking.
We strongly believe that the work we do as survivors matter. Our work on the Council is grounded in hope and integrity and a shared mission that meaningfully calls upon each of its members and the agencies which we collaborate. Thank you all for your time, and again, thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the Council.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you, Tanya, for your remarks, and also for your hard work and dedication. Please pass our appreciation on to the entire Council as well.
We’ll continue our meeting today by briefing each of the agencies giving a brief update on their work and their contribution to the task. Let me begin with the work that the State Department has done.
In tandem with this year’s successful release of the Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department has been exploring increasingly innovative methods of combating trafficking. Later this month, my team will release a new Know Your Rights video that will air at select U.S. embassies and consulates. It’s our hope that the new video playing in our missions will make visa applicants much more aware of their rights and human trafficking situations and lead them to both avoid and report suspicious activity.
We also have the National Survivor Network to thank for this proposal. As a coalition of over 200 trafficking survivors, they’re acutely aware of how traffickers try to exploit the visa process each day. Incorporating the expertise of survivors is just one example of the way in which we are improving the U.S. government’s anti-trafficking efforts.
Additionally, we have just awarded a contract to create the Human Trafficking Expert Consultant Network, which I am confident will allow us to meaningfully incorporate survivor input into the department’s anti-trafficking work while compensating them for their expertise.
Building on our forum engagement last year, we launched the Program to End Modern Slavery. It supports programs that seek to achieve a measurable reduction of modern slavery in specific countries or regions. The program began with $25 million for the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, and we just announced at the UNGA a second $25 million award for the Global Fund and the University of Georgia Research Foundation to continue this important work.
And while we strive for success of our foreign partners, we remain equally focused on combating trafficking at home, just as today’s awardees have been. I’m therefore pleased to announce that our department’s Domestic Worker In-Person Registration Program will expand to two new cities in 2019. This program was developed to enhance protection and oversight of foreign domestic workers employed by foreign mission and international organization personnel.
These four initiatives will transform the way we fight modern slavery, and I look forward to hearing about your own agencies’ programs. With that, let’s hear from each of the agencies. I’ll begin with Secretary Nielsen.
SECRETARY NIELSEN: (Inaudible) first I want to thank Secretary Pompeo for his leadership of this task force. This is actually the second time today Secretary Pompeo and I have had an opportunity to talk about trafficking. Earlier today we met with the president of Honduras, president of Guatemala, and the vice president of El Salvador, as well as Mexican officials to talk about transnational criminal organizations and trafficking.
DHS is committed to ending human trafficking. I’m glad to join you today to highlight on behalf of the men and women of DHS some of the work that we’re doing throughout the department. DHS is responsible for investigating the crime of human trafficking, providing victim assistance, and educating the public, law enforcement, and industry partners to foster awareness and encourage reporting. ICE Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, is on the front lines for conducting law enforcement operations for both international and domestic trafficking cases. As the President just mentioned, last year ICE initiated 833 human trafficking cases, resulting in 1,602 arrests and the identification and/or rescue of 518 trafficking victims.
Complementing these efforts is the work done by our Customs and Border Protection to identify victims. They screen for trafficking when they encounter individuals along our borders and at our ports of entry.
TSA officers are trained to identify signs of trafficking victims as they screen passengers for flights. They work very closely with the airports and the airline industry.
FEMA provides training on human trafficking to its employees on the front lines of disaster response and recovery, where, unfortunately, we see those who seek to do harm take advantage of those catastrophic situations.
And our federal law enforcement training teams, incoming and advanced law enforcement professionals on identifying victims and conducting investigations. While we do focus heavily on training and awareness, we also are committed to providing services to victims as they translate into survivors.
In addition to investigating the crimes, ICE Victim Assistance Specialists help trafficking survivors rebuild their lives. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides eligible non-citizen trafficking victims with immigration relief and has trained more than 3,700 stakeholders on options available to victims of human trafficking.
We recognize the importance of helping the American public understand the signs of human trafficking. Our Blue Campaign, which is the national awareness campaign, seeks to educate the public, law enforcement, and other institutions on the severity of human trafficking.
I want to thank everyone around this table. Many of your departments worked very closely with us on the Blue Campaign, and hopefully in the years to come we can continue to expand it.
Finally, one emerging area that the department is devoting resources to is live distance abuse. This is a deplorable crime, one that I find difficult to articulate. This is where victims, often very young children, are sexually exploited in real time, where abusers instruct others via the internet on how to abuse the child as they watch.
At DHS we have investigators from HSI and the U.S. Secret Service embedded with other federal investigators at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Together we are committed to forming a unified front to attack this crime head on. We’re working with our international partners. Some of us met with our Five Eyes partners in August in Australia, and we discussed not only live distance abuse but other ways that we can counter trafficking.
And finally, quickly I just want to mention the pivotal role of the private sector. I know the State Department works closely with them as well. Specifically the tech industry, I commend their work to date and encourage them to continue their work to quickly remove child sexual abuse material from their platforms. This will prevent the upload of additional material, and it will prioritize the safety and protection of their user communities. So thanks to them.
So thanks again to Secretary Pompeo. Thanks to the Advisory Council. Thanks to the survivors and advocates who are here today. We appreciate all of your work. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Kirstjen. Secretary Zinke.
SECRETARY ZINKE: Thank you. First of all, I would like to thank President Trump and Secretary Pompeo and Ivanka for your leadership on it. It’s an important issue to me personally from a former congressman in Montana.
For those that don’t know, Interior has the honor of representing the 573 Sovereign Indian Nations. We have about 40 percent of the southern border, and we have about 4,000 law enforcement professionals within the Department of Interior. Per the President’s direction, we began to form our opioid task forces, composed of our BIA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and our different law enforcement agencies. We’ve conducted a multitude of operations, resulted in millions of dollars of drugs being removed on our streets. There is a nexus between drugs, especially in Indian country, and sex and human trafficking; there is no doubt.
Our action has been then to train. We’ve trained about 400 of our law enforcement individuals on sex and human trafficking, and we are incorporating that into our task force operations. We will focus on the territories of the Indian Nations. What we do is we coordinate with our sovereign nations, we make sure the tribes are coordinated with, and then we integrate local and law enforcement from state and federal agencies into the operations. We think we will make a big dent in Indian country, and we intend to do this full speed ahead.
So with that, thank you for the opportunity to be here, and we take this very seriously at Interior.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thanks, Ryan. I’m going to give Ambassador Haley a chance to go quickly. She’s got to depart in a second. I do want to hear the work she’s been doing up at the UN.
AMBASSADOR HALEY: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo, and I apologize, but my flight was canceled and so I have to catch a train to get back to an event.
But human trafficking is such a big issue, and the United States has done an amazing job interagency-wise into doing this, and it really is the cruelest of abuses because it goes after the very dignity of a person. And we have been talking about human trafficking quite a bit. What we are going to be seeing is that we’re going to have a great opportunity this fall to really be debating this at the UN General Assembly, and we also have an opportunity on October 26th, where we’re going to be talking to the rapporteur, the special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, to have a real conversation.
There’s going to be a biannual resolution that we’re passing, and what we’re talking to different countries about now is that governments must cooperate, because what we know is this spans borders. And if one country is doing it right and the other one’s not, it’s just shifting everybody to that spot. And so the focus is very much how do we work with governments so that they don’t have to bend over backwards but do just the basic things that can really bring this together. And that’s just talking about stolen travel documents, making sure that we look at the routes, making sure we look at the gang connections. Obviously, internationally the very groups that traffic are the very groups that cause trouble within a region. It goes right at the heart of peace and security.
We think that governments also need to understand you can’t give a slap on the hand. This isn’t even about sanctions. You have to have real penalties that deal with this. Because if we start to really put pressure and real penalties, we will see that this will stop, and they have to be held criminally responsible.
The key to this at the end of the day is for other countries to understand accountability is the number one thing we can do. We continue to share what the U.S. is doing, and they continue to ask questions, and we’ll continue to bridge that gap as best we can. But it really is something, unfortunately, we’re seeing more of, not less, and I think it’s a great opportunity for all of our agencies to work internationally to just share our story and share what we do. And we will continue to keep you all posted on the negotiations that we have.
Thank you, Secretary Pompeo.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Nikki. Secretary Acosta.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo. So at the Department of Labor, we’re working across the government here in the United States and with other governments abroad. We’re working with job creators to combat human trafficking.
Domestically we use our visa enforcement authority to inspect worksites to hold employers accountable. Employers, when they bring individuals into the United States with visas, have obligations. They have obligations to pay wages. They have obligations in many cases to provide adequate housing, adequate facilities.
For the first time, we’ve – actually, ever under visa enforcement authority, we’ve gone to court and we’ve sough injunctions. We now have a policy in place where whenever we encounter a case that may have criminal overtones, we refer that to the inspector general, who in turn will work with the Department of Justice on potential prosecutions.
This partnership with the Department of Justice is critical. The Department of Justice provided us the opportunity to speak with the United States Attorneys and highlight the importance of taking agency-derived cases. While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies do the bulwark of enforcement, our agents, our enforcement officials, often are at the front lines and they notice abuses. And so I’m very happy to report that our cases are now being considered and being prosecuted.
Internationally we work hand in hand with the State Department, foreign governments, and their private sector partners to combat child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking through research and through reporting, through policy engagement with foreign governments, and technical assistance.
Last month, the Department of Labor released two reports. The reports focused on child labor and on forced labor that highlighted particular industry sectors that are susceptible to child labor and forced labor, and they also highlighted certain countries that were making efforts but needed to make more efforts and redouble their efforts to address these issues.
The reports formed the basis for a country-level approach where we are working with countries to provide technical assistance and information. As we work to curb these practices, we also work with American companies that are operating in these countries so that they are aware of our concerns.
We’ve developed a Comply Chain smartphone app so that companies that have questions can very simply look up, find the reports, find the issues that are identified by sector and by country. These reports identify 1,700 specific suggested actions that can be taken, country-by-country specific actions that are unique to those countries and specific sectors within those countries, altogether 1,700 specific actions that can be taken. And our international officers are working through the State Department with countries to address as many of these as we can.
And so this is a great opportunity to really, I think, highlight the – not just the importance but the power of interagency work. You will notice that in almost every point that I have made, we’re not doing this alone. We’re doing it with partners at the table. And that leverages what we do in such a way that it really transforms the approach to this issue. I think that is something that we are seeing more of and that these meetings will foster, and so thank you for the opportunity.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Alex. Secretary Azar.
SECRETARY AZAR: Secretary Pompeo, thank you very much, and it’s an honor to be here today for this meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force. I’d like to reinforce the importance that HHS places on combating the terrible scourge of human trafficking and share a few of the areas where we’re improving efforts to identify and combat it.
HHS’s anti-trafficking mission has three key elements: raising awareness to help identify victims; getting victims connected to restorative services; and equipping community organizations to help victims become survivors.
On identifying victims, HHS is proud to fund the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is scaling up the use of text messages and online chat services to provide additional, discreet ways for victims and ordinary Americans to get connected to support. HHS is also expanding online training for healthcare and human services practitioners in schools and in tribal communities, two areas where we’ve heard there is a particular need to train practitioners to identify and respond to victims among their patients and clients.
When it comes to meeting victims’ needs, HHS is working to become more innovative and responsive in the work that we do. I’d like to thank the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking for including HHS in its reviews of victim services and grant-making efforts in the Council’s 2017 report. We’ll continue to identify opportunities to implement these recommendations.
Last month, we hosted the first public meeting of the National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States, which started analyzing the latest research and provide – and promising practices. The meeting included one of today’s award recipients, Detective Woolf. After meeting again in December, the committee will provide recommendations early next year on how states can further strengthen local anti-trafficking efforts. HHS was also able to deploy our expertise in helping the city of Houston respond to human trafficking risks after Hurricane Harvey last year, so we’re pleased to see Minal Patel Davis’ work recognized today.
Finally, HHS is always looking at how we can assist survivors. We’re incorporating survivors’ needs into our Aim for Independence initiative, part of our agency reform plan, by holding listening sessions on barriers to self-sufficiency faced by trafficking victims. We’ll also provide information and tools to members of the business community who are interested in providing jobs, training, and other support to promote the long-term wellbeing of victims and survivors and their families.
The President has called for the federal government to bring all relevant powers to bear against human trafficking and these are just a few examples of how we’re responding to that call. Together, working across the federal government as we’re doing today, we can continue advancing toward the day when we can put an end to this terrible scourge. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Alex, thank you very much. Secretary Chao.
SECRETARY CHAO: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity to tell a bit about what the U.S. Department of Transportation is doing to work with all stakeholders to detect, deter and disrupt this horrific trafficking. As the former secretary of labor, I have also attended these task forces when I was in the Labor Department, and I want to echo Secretary Acosta’s moves and the excellent report that he gave on this issue. In terms of transportation, our Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative arms the transportation employees and the traveling public with the knowledge to report tips, and these are especially important in transportation hubs where there is congregation of obviously the transport of victims.
DOT continues to call on transportation stakeholders to take a stand by raising public awareness and training their employees. And 19 pledges were signed this year alone by urban and rural transit agencies – trucking companies, multimodal ports and of course state departments of transportation all across the country. And just last week, we appointed 15 members to the new U.S. Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking. Their report will be forthcoming next year in the spring, and we are also implementing the new – our new initiative on the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, which was signed by the President, to help ensure that individuals who use a commercial motor vehicle to commit human trafficking will permanently lose their commercial driver’s license.
DOT is also facilitating the launch of anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns. These are now running across airports across our country, Amtrak stations, and we will continue to expand this campaign again into all of the major U.S. transportation hubs. The U.S. Department of Transportation also continues to work with Department of Homeland Security and other stakeholders to offer anti-trafficking training. Internationally, we continue to champion the inclusion of human trafficking in ministerial declarations, and over 50 transportation ministers from the OECD’s International Transport Forum and APEC are committed to tackling this issue.
The department’s leadership in combating human trafficking is also recognized by ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, in its development of human trafficking guidelines. So whether it’s domestic or international, the U.S. Department of Transportation is focused on this heinous movement, and are working with major – all stakeholders worldwide on the key intersection of human trafficking and transportation networks and hubs, and we look forward to continuing to work with the State Department, with Ivanka Trump on this horrible, horrible crime.
And to that end, I just want to compliment Ivanka for your leadership on this issue, because we know how much you care about this and what inspiration you give to us. And then, Congresswoman Ann Wagner is here as well, and she has done great work on this, especially since she was ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, and saw the nexus again of transportation and human trafficking. So Congresswoman Wagner, we want to thank you for your work as well. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Elaine. Secretary DeVos, please.
SECRETARY DEVOS: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo. The sad exploitation of America’s children is an evil that this administration is confronting and that is really heartening to me, as in my private life I have long supported battling these efforts internationally. And so it’s very important and meaningful, personally. ED is pleased to collaborate with other agencies and this Advisory Council. We do so specifically through elevating awareness by informing school leaders, teachers, parents and students about the issue and the problem. We have provided educators with resources as it relates to school climate and safety, including this guide, Human Trafficking in America’s Schools.
The guide offers tools to recognize signs of a child at risk and dispels many of the myths. For example, not all human traffickers are adults. In fact, there was a disheartening case of a high school cheerleader recruiting younger cheerleaders to be trafficked. ED’s guide inspired Fay Chelmow of Virginia to found ImPACT, People Against Child Trafficking in American Schools. ImPACT recently hosted a youth safety summit, and Fay stated that she believes we’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem, that we need to go upstream with prevention education.
Another individual in Atlanta used this resource guide and organized an effort in Georgia schools that developed awareness training for thousands of educators across that state. So these examples are encouraging, and we need many more of them in every community in this country.
So we will continue to urge all schools, all districts to take up this issue with seriousness, to use resources available, and to develop their own to address the issue at their local level. This is a national and international tragedy and I’m grateful for the President’s leadership, Ivanka, your leadership on this, and for this Council’s focus and spotlight on this issue. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Betsy. Director Coats.
MR COATS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thank you for your leadership with this group, and Ivanka, thank you for taking this on. I think you’ll add significantly to what we’re trying to do here in this whole-of-government approach, and your leadership will be essential.
As Director of National Intelligence and co-chair of the Threat Mitigation Working Group, I have elevated this issue to a top priority for the Intelligence Community. The intelligence that we can provide relative to what’s taking place around the world and within the country on trafficking we hope will be something that can be used not only to arrest and prosecute those who are engaged in this, but to better understand how we can best address all of these issues that are so hard to deal with.
At the request of the White House, the national intelligence estimate has been produced by the Intelligence Community, and it’s titled “Global Human Trafficking Poses Diverse Threats to the United States’s Interests,” and they ran this up through 2022. I’d be happy to send it to each one of you to look at it. It is not pleasant reading. And none of this is pleasant, as I think we can all relate to the horror of even the thought – I’ve got 10 grandchildren – of one of them being trafficked. So it’s not just children, it’s for any – but those children are trafficked for sex issues, they are trafficked for labor, they’re trafficked to join militia and militant groups, given instructions on how to kill.
It is a global scourge that we have to do everything we can to try to stop. And we will, as an Intelligence Community, provide you – I have elevated this and I have told our people I want you to spend more time on this, I want you to collect what you can, want you to disseminate what we can in an increased way so that we can instead of being – talking about this from year after year after year, we can really come back and say we’ve really made a difference. And that’s what we’re all about and I think that’s why we’re all here.
So, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to participate in what I think is a very worthy cause.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Dan. Ambassador Lighthizer.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Great. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It’s a pleasure also for us to be here, and I’m struck listening to everyone talk about how this whole-of-government idea is so important to tackle not only this problem but other problems, and the President really has engaged this in a way I think a lot of administrations haven’t.
So from our point of view at USTR, we think of how can we use trade policy to really require our trading partners to commit to stop human trafficking but also forced labor. For us it’s more about forced labor. As the President said and as Ivanka said, the new United States-Mexico-Canada agreement on trade has a specific provision in it that prohibits the importation of goods produced in whole or in part by forced labor. This is an obligation that is as important as any other obligation in the agreement, and it’s enforced for the first time under the state-to-state dispute settlement process.
So this is a classic example of it. In addition, in this agreement we have other provisions that require cooperation with respect to the movement of goods made by forced labor between the three countries.
We’re looking at our other trade agreements and decide how we can also implement this policy. I’ll give you some other examples. We have a GSP program which most of you are probably not aware of, but developing countries can bring products into the United States without paying duties if they meet certain criteria. Among the criteria are issues involving forced – goods made with forced labor. We are having a review of all of our programs and we’re looking at all the criteria and focusing on this one, and in some cases we actually have taken steps to remove certain countries from getting the benefit of the GSP program.
We have another program called the African Growth and Opportunity Act, another preference program. In that case there are criteria; they are similar and we are going through every African country that benefits from this program and enforcing this. We have one recent case where we have initiated an action against Mauritania, which has a history of slavery, of hereditary slavery, and we’re going to require – we’re going to require changes or they will lose that benefit.
There are other programs. I won’t go through them all. I’ll just say that USTR is insisting that countries with whom we trade not import into our country or into their country goods made with forced labor, and I think it’s an important part of solving this problem, and it’s a very important part of the President’s trade policy.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Bob. Deputy Secretary Shanahan.
MR CENSKY: Good afternoon and thank you, Mr. Chairman. We at the Department of Agriculture continue to focus – I’m sorry, I thought you said Censky. I’m sorry.
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.) Why don’t you continue and then we’ll go – we’ll come back to Secretary Shanahan.
MR CENSKY: My apologies.
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, no worries.
MR CENSKY: We at the Department of Agriculture continue to focus our efforts on trying to reach out to rural communities so that they can recognize and be active and increase awareness of the trafficking that occurs in the agriculture sector. We’re providing data to the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center to better understand the scale of trafficking within the agriculture operations across the nation. And in terms of commitments, what we have planned is we were – we plan to field additional employee training over the next year that will enable our thousands of USDA employees that we have that work in the various agriculture sectors, from commodity graders, food inspectors, and other facets of the food industry, to recognize the signs of labor trafficking and how it must be reported. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Pat, if you would, please.
MR SHANAHAN: Yeah, thank you, Mr. Secretary. Combating trafficking in persons is important to the Department of Defense and we are applying significant resources across the enterprise, and especially forward deployed, reflecting our commitment to this effort. This commitment manifests itself with monitoring of compliance with our service contracts. We are partnered with the Inspector General, who also is conducting evaluations of DOD service contracts to ensure they comply with countering trafficking in persons statutes, requirements in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation, along with other DOD guidance.
Institutionally, we are revising internal DOD Instructions to require that all new entry-level troops and civilian new hires complete CTIP training within the first year of assignment to the DOD. Additionally, we are enhancing leader training, integrating CTIP into peace and stability operations and training education, and including CTIP into senior service school handbooks. This year we are implementing training designed for DOD school administrators and other DOD educators to provide resources to assist schools’ staff in identifying and responding to incidents where students may be a victim or involved in trafficking.
Finally, DOD also includes this important topic in our allied partner training efforts. The Defense Institute of International Legal Studies provides counter-trafficking courses to our international partners. The allied partner training engages with foreign militaries from over 50 countries.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thanks. Were you finished, Pat? All right, thank you. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
MR ROSENSTEIN: Well, thank you, Secretary Pompeo, for your leadership of this task force and thanks to Ivanka for those thoughtful opening remarks truly, I think, help to bring public attention to this important issue, one of the issues that matters.
The Department of Justice plays a central role in combating human trafficking. We initiate federal investigations, we pursue criminal prosecutions, and we seek lengthy penalties for perpetrators. Our FBI agents, federal prosecutors, and deputy U.S. Marshals join in task forces with Homeland Security and Department of Labor agents, with local and state police and prosecutors, to identify and rescue victims.
In our 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, law enforcement coordinators schedule training sessions, and they work with nongovernment organizations to combat trafficking. Our victim witness coordinators work to keep victims safe and help them to rebuild their lives.
A few weeks ago, I received an uplifting message from a young woman who was a victim in a case prosecuted in our U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland, and this is what she wrote to our prosecutors. I hope that the survivors in the room can relate.
She said, “I wanted to take this chance to personally thank you for everything you did for me, and to tell you about how my life has changed for the better since meeting you. I am miraculously stable with no signs of depression or PTSD. I’ve been able to fully recover and thrive. I can say without a doubt that you contributed to that in the biggest way. I graduated high school with honors. There’s one change I made that I’m especially proud of. I realized that I want to help children through counseling, schools, treatment centers, or the foster system. I hope to provide them the same gift that you provided me: hope for a better future and the ability to live a better life. Thank you for your tireless work and your support and encouragement during the hardest part of my life. I will forever be grateful. I wanted you to know how much what you did meant to me and how much it changed my life.”
Now, that young woman inspires us. Last year our department secured a record 499 convictions for human trafficking, a 14 percent increase over the prior year. In April, we seized and shut down a notorious international website, Backpage.com, as President Trump described – a website that facilitated sex trafficking. Several companies and individuals pleaded guilty to federal charges. As sex trafficking moves from street corners to web pages, we need to respond.
The Department of Justice also administers a large amount of federal funding to combat trafficking. We devoted $67 million last year for support ranging from housing to legal services. We’re continuing to work with Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen and Labor Secretary Acosta on the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team initiative. We’re also grateful to Secretary Azar and the Department of Health and Human Services for supporting trafficking victims, and we’re working with Secretary Carson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing for victims.
President Trump made clear that this administration is taking a stand against human trafficking, and the Department of Justice will continue to combat trafficking, support survivors, and encourage victims everywhere with the hope for a better future. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Rod. Deputy Director Vought, please.
MR VOUGHT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. For many years the OMB has recognized that effective stewardship of taxpayer funds includes strong anti-trafficking policies in federal contracting. Strong anti-trafficking safeguards increase stability and productivity throughout the supply chain, which in turn promotes higher quality and greater value contract support for our mission needs. These policies, which have evolved over years, including prohibiting contractors and their recruiting companies from charging worker recruitment fees, using misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices, or other actions that enable trafficking.
Trafficking is not easy to combat. It can occur far down the supply chain in remote areas where enforcement is difficult. Over the past year, OMB has worked with State Department and the Labor Department to develop guidance and tools to help contractors meet their legal obligations to strengthen victim protections in the most effective manner possible without imposing unnecessary burdens.
During this fiscal – the first quarter of this next fiscal year, we expect to do two important actions. First, we intend to issue guidance developed with NGOs and industry to highlight the best practices for preventing trafficking and taking timely mitigation steps. Second, amendments will be published to our government-wide acquisition regulations to define what fees contractors and their recruiters are prohibited from charging prospective employees. So we prohibited it in 2015, and now we’re going to actually define what is being prohibited in a more finite way. We will make this information available through ResponsibleSourcingTool.org. This website was created through a public-private partnership to give contractors and their sub-contractors online access to various self-enforcement tools.
OMB looks forward to our continued partnership with the task force and working together with our contractors to fight human trafficking. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Russell. Director Wray, please.
MR WRAY: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo. It’s an honor to be here with this task force. The FBI has a long history of working with our interagency and law enforcement partners to investigate human trafficking, to rescue victims, and to ensure that those who engage in this heinous crime face justice. I think it’s fair to say this stuff is downright medieval. I mean, we’re – people use the term “modern slavery.” We are talking about, in this day and age, innocent people literally being sold into a life of exploitation. We see victims who are beaten, starved, and forced to take jobs and act against their will.
On our end, we see this mostly in commercial sex trafficking, which makes up about 90 percent of the FBI’s human trafficking investigations. The other 10 percent are labor trafficking cases seen in industries like restaurant and food service, traveling sales crews, agriculture, and construction. Currently all 56 of the FBI’s field offices have ongoing human trafficking investigations. In total, the FBI’s human trafficking program has, as we speak, about 1,800 ongoing cases related to human trafficking. Each of these cases represents lives at risk of being destroyed, and that’s why we take a very victim-centric approach to combating human trafficking.
The centerpiece of that is our victim services division, and we have 160 victim specialists throughout our field offices who help connect survivors with emotional support, social services and medical care. And we also know that survivors of human trafficking are the best antidote to it. We’ve seen the impact when victims tell their story as witnesses, bringing to life the otherwise unimaginable realities they face and helping to shine a light on human trafficking as a very real problem in our country. Task forces like this one are a major part of how the FBI continues to work with others to combat human trafficking.
Currently the FBI, on the more operational level, leads 14 human trafficking task forces tasked with combating sex trafficking and labor trafficking, but we also have 80 FBI-led and funded child exploitation task forces throughout the country, which bring together more than 450 different federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who contribute nearly 800 task force officers. These task forces are focused on identifying, investigating, and pursuing both individuals and groups engaged in crimes against children, including child sex trafficking, and we see that partnerships like this one make a real difference. We see it in the numbers of the people we’re putting behind bars, working with the prosecutors of the Justice Department.
Just since October 1st of last year, the FBI has arrested 2,400 subjects for crimes related to human trafficking.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Chris. (Applause.)
MR WRAY: Thanks.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Mr. Vice President.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Please sit down. I have the honor of introducing the last presenter. Ambassador Bolton – I was scheduled to be across the country today, but circumstances required me to be here, and I couldn't resist the opportunity just to say thank you for the work that all of you are doing, this administration and this Interagency Task Force.
As the President made clear (inaudible), human trafficking is a humanitarian and a security priority for this administration and for the American people. And I’m grateful for the energy that’s been reported here today. I’m also grateful to see the honorees that we’ve recognized today. Ivanka and I had the opportunity to meet with Nadia, who is a Nobel laureate and is taking such a strong stand, and such courage (inaudible).
I just – I am honored to say thank you, all the members of our administration; thank you, all the members of the advisory group who are here, who are helping to put hands and feet on the heart of the American people. I’m absolutely confident that the President’s leadership – Ivanka, with your strong energy, Mr. Secretary, you’re driving our leadership on this. And with the focus President Trump has placed on it, we will make incredible progress on behalf of the American people and stem the tide of human trafficking. So keep up the great work, and thank you again to our fellow Americans and visitors who are with us today (inaudible).
Thank you very much. God bless you, and Ambassador John Bolton (inaudible). Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Administrator Green, ready to go? All right.
MR GREEN: Yeah, I've got to follow that. So very quickly, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership, but also thanks to the President, the Vice President, and Ivanka Trump. I mean, we should not underestimate the importance of simply elevating this issue in the public consciousness, and no one can do that quite like they can. So thanks. It makes all of us, our work more effective and simpler.
Real quickly because you have other speakers more important than me, last year USAID reached 15,000 trafficking victims worldwide with legal, health, psychological, life skills training, job placement, and victim support services, but we know that's just scratching the surface. One of the most important things that we will do in the coming year is to update the global trafficking strategy, because quite frankly it is hopelessly out of date given all that’s happened in the world in the last few years.
We have nearly 70 million displaced people in the world. We have refugee camps and displaced communities popping up all over, and it is sadly all too easy for people to fall through the cracks. And so we’re going to put all of our energy into updating our strategy and turning to the private sector to tap into some of those same tools that we all use to deliver assistance more effectively, more efficiently in stamping out fraud, waste, and abuse. That same technology has to be applied to keeping track of those who are the most vulnerable in the world right now in these captive communities, and so that will be our highest priority.
We have a new senior political appointee as our agency lead and she’ll be reaching out to many of you to help us in updating these policies, and we’ll be convening a summit on evidence for ending modern slavery early next year and look forward to participation across the interagency. So again, thanks so much for your leadership, and thank you for raising the profile of this very important issue.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Mark, thank you very much. We next have the acting chair of the U.S. EEOC. Ms. Lipnic.
MS LIPNIC: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo. Anti-discrimination laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, particularly those prohibiting discrimination on the bases of race, national origin, and sex, including sexual harassment, are an integral part of the fight against human trafficking.
When force, fraud, or coercion are used to compel labor or exploit workers, traffickers and employers may be violating not only criminal laws, but also the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC. In the past few years the EEOC has had multi-million dollar enforcement actions on behalf of farm workers, shipyard workers, poultry workers who have worked in horrendous forced labor conditions in the United States. Going forward, the EEOC will carefully monitor all charges of discrimination linked to human trafficking.
Importantly, we are training our charge intake personnel, the agency’s first line in our enforcement process, on ways to identify potential victims of trafficking. We are also implementing this year a new training for our frontline investigators to help them develop the interview skills needed to deal with victims of sexual assault and harassment, and a recently implemented update of the EEOC’s internal data systems will allow us to better identify and closely monitor cases where staff have found evidence of trafficking.
The EEOC will continue to exercise its authority to certify applications for U visas, for victims of serious criminal offense such as sexual assault, and for T visas reserved for trafficking victims. We continue to update our internal procedures to make sure all of our employees are fully aware of the agency’s authority to certify these visas which are handled through our general counsel’s office.
As part of our strategic enforcement plan for Fiscal Years 2018 through 2022, the EEOC will leverage our partnerships with advocacy and business groups to educate the public about and to devise solutions to address trafficking. We – last year we reached more than 8,000 people at more than 160 outreach events nationwide. We expect to continue to conduct events focusing on trafficking issues, and the agency’s field offices, which we have 93 around the country, will continue to be actively involved in local anti-trafficking groups involving both the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Labor, state and local governments, and we will also work with our 93 state agency partners and the tribal employee rights organizations, known as the TEROs, to work with them on educating them about this effort.
Protection of vulnerable workers is a key priority of the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, and we will continue to be a part of this administration’s effort and leadership on this issue.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Victoria. Under Secretary Mandelker, please.
UNDER SECRETARY MANDELKER: (Inaudible) the interagency to collect and analyze financial intelligence and data to identify human traffickers and their networks, to disrupt and disable the financial underpinnings of those networks through sanctions, and to support law enforcement investigations that likewise lead to accountability and justice. With each action, we send strong, powerful, impactful messages that human trafficking and exploitation runs afoul of our values, and that we will impose dire financial consequences on those traffickers by cutting off their access to the U.S. financial system and blocking their assets.
Today, Treasury reaffirms three commitments. The first is to continue to identify and counter the financial operations, the underpinnings of human trafficking networks. Many of the sanctions programs that we administer can be used to designate those who engage in human trafficking as part of their nefarious activities, including our authorities to designate transnational criminal organizations.
We used these authorities just last week when we designated members of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest and most prominent syndicate of the Japanese yakuza criminal organization. In addition to weapons smuggling and extortion, the yakuza is known to profit from nearly all aspects of sexual exploitation.
Earlier this year we used that same authority to designate key figures associated with the operations and financial dealings of the Zhao Wei criminal network that used a very prominent casino as a front for conducting an array of horrendous illicit activities, again, including human trafficking and child prostitution.
Exposing these broad networks of companies and individuals that enable and perpetuate these horrific crimes is critical to disrupting the global financial infrastructure upon which these illicit transnational criminal organizations rely.
At Treasury we’re also working very closely with financial institutions who identify the movement of human trafficker funds. In fact, recently we updated our suspicious activity report form to include a check box for financial institutions to indicate suspected links to human trafficking, and that is already yielding tremendous results.
Second, we will continue to integrate human trafficking into our illicit finance priority issues. For example, as we all know, rogue regimes – for rogue regimes, the exportation of overseas labor and others can be among their most profitable industries, and so we have and will continue to regularly take action in response to those ongoing and serious human rights abusers.
Our third commitment is to continue to build domestic and international partnerships in support of efforts to combat the illicit financing of human trafficking, and we have a number of efforts underway around the globe to make sure that other finance ministries, financial intelligence units have the tools and the information to likewise crack down on these human trafficking networks.
Domestically, we will continue to bring together financial institutions and law enforcement to facilitate greater information sharing between the public and private sectors concerning human trafficking. And I have likewise directed my staff to find additional, meaningful ways to work with the NGO and victim community, who are very much on the front lines of this epic problem, fighting for justice every day. The importance of that work cannot be overstated. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: And now let’s hear from Ambassador Bolton about how our agencies can work together to maximize our efforts. John, please.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Thank you very much, Mike. The President has consistently made clear that trafficking is a humanitarian, economic, and national security challenge. Human trafficking is an affront to our values and our belief in the dignity of every individual. Human trafficking is also a threat to our sovereignty. Trafficking at its core represents a failure of many states to take the threat as seriously as this administration does. Every government in the world has a sovereign obligation to limit this criminality within its borders and control the flow of people across its borders.
The decision this year to limit the number of national security waivers due to Mike Pompeo’s leadership demonstrates that this administration will hold other states accountable when they fail to exercise their responsibility to stop human trafficking. The sheer number of departments and agencies in our government responsible for different aspects of combating trafficking in persons suggests the magnitude and complexity of the challenge.
This administration will continue to do more than admire the problem. We’re using all possible tools of national power, including diplomatic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement resources to confront the threat. I’m eager to support Secretary Pompeo, Ivanka, and the rest of the interagency to ensure trafficking receives the attention it warrants. Moving forward, the administration will focus its efforts on five priorities. Number one, we will disrupt criminal trafficking networks. Drug traffickers operating in Central and South America are increasingly entering into the human trafficking business. Disrupting the flow of illegal drugs from our country – into our country also disrupts the networks that traffic women and children.
Two, we will improve data collection. Dismantling the full reach of traffic – the trafficking industry in the U.S. requires complex and detailed information.
Three, we will enhance professional training. Law enforcement, immigration, and customs officials will have the training and resources to identify the victims of trafficking at all our ports of entry and in our communities.
Four, we will strengthen global supply chain scrutiny. The administration will use bilateral negotiation and contracting authorities to enhance transparency and remove forced labor or trafficking from supply chains.
Five, we will improve victim protection and support. We must, and we will, make every effort to ensure victims of trafficking are protected under the law and given the resources needed to transition to freedom.
The United States commitment to countering human trafficking is rooted in the compassion of the American people and the determination of this administration to keep the American people safe. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: John, thank you for your remarks and your leadership as well. This has been an important time for each of us to learn about the work that other agencies are doing. I hope we each take lessons away from this and learn to work closely together. I want to thank President Trump, Ivanka, the Advisory Council, and the award recipients for being here today. Thank you all.
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