During a visit to an interagency border task force on Thursday, President Donald Trump said that human trafficking, otherwise known as modern slavery, has grown to historic levels.
Trump made the remarks in the context of securing America’s border.
“Drugs are flowing into our country,” Trump said. ” We need border protection; we need the wall. We have to have the wall. The Democrats don’t want to approve a wall because they think it’s good politically, but it’s not.”
“The drugs are a big factor, but you look at — human trafficking is worse than it’s ever been in the history of this world. And who would think in this modern-day age?” he added. “So it really is a big problem.”
There are an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization.
Some 4.8 million people are victims of forced sexual exploitation, also known as sex trafficking. A quarter of them are children.
In comparison, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World over the course of more than 300 years as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.
Thursday was not the first time Trump brought up the staggering scale of human trafficking. The president made a similar remark last week at the signing ceremony of a bill aimed at combating online sex trafficking.
Trump started the battle against human trafficking shortly after taking office. He signed an executive order in February last year directing the government to “identify, interdict, disrupt, and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations that engage in human trafficking.”
In September, last year, the State Department used the occasion to announce a $25 million grant to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.
Last month, Trump appointed nine human trafficking survivors to serve on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. The president also proclaimed January 2018 National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“Human trafficking is a sickening crime at odds with our very humanity,” Trump wrote in the proclamation. “My administration continues to work to drive out the darkness human traffickers cast upon our world.”
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