Remarks as prepared for delivery
The Department of Justice plays a central role in combating human trafficking. We initiate federal investigations, pursue criminal prosecutions, and seek lengthy sentences for perpetrators. Federal prosecutors, FBI agents and Deputy U.S. Marshals join in task forces with Homeland Security and Department of Labor agents and 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 work with non-government organizations that combat trafficking. Our Victim-Witness Coordinators work to keep victims safe and help them rebuild their lives.
A few weeks ago, I received a message from a teenage victim in a case our U.S. Attorney’s Office handled in Maryland. This is what she wrote to our prosecutors:
“I wanted to take this chance to personally thank you … for everything you did for me, and tell you about how my life has changed for the better since meeting you…. I am miraculously stable, with no more signs of depression or PTSD. I’ve been able to fully recover and thrive…. I can without a doubt say that you contributed to that in the biggest way…. I graduated high school with honors…. There’s one … change I’ve 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 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.”
That young woman inspires us. Last year, our Department secured a record 499 human trafficking convictions, a 14% increase over the prior year.
In April, we seized and shut down the notorious international web site Backpage.com, which 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 for trafficking victims. We devoted $67 million last year for support ranging from housing to legal services.
We are continuing to work with Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen and Labor Secretary Acosta on the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative. We are also grateful to Secretary Azar and the Department of Health and Human Services for supporting trafficking victims. And we are working with Secretary Carson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve housing for victims.
President Trump made clear that this Administration is taking a stand against human trafficking. The Department of Justice will continue to combat human trafficking and support survivors.
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Author: October 11, 2018