Human trafficking is a scourge on our society in which predators prey on vulnerable individuals, particularly women and children, and use force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor, services, or even commercial sex acts. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and affects hundreds of thousands of victims in the United States alone. Human trafficking is also a national security threat, because revenue from the industry bankrolls transnational criminal and extremist groups.
In addition to often being a violent crime, human trafficking is a humanitarian and immoral crime. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers who induce the crime by force, fraud, or coercion on their prey. The recent New York Times article on migrant child labor practices, whether induced or voluntary, exposes the rampant exploitation of children that run afoul of decades of child labor laws meant to protect children from dangerous working conditions going on in this country every single day.
A Senate investigation found that in 2014, some children who were sponsored by distant relatives ended up being forced to work in oppressive conditions on an Ohio farm. A bipartisan Senate report also identified additional problems in processes that failed to protect unaccompanied minors from nefarious actors, and also wasted taxpayer dollars in the process. One identified instance occurred in 2018, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded grants to house unaccompanied minors in facilities investigated by the City of Philadelphia for child abuse.
Child sexual exploitation, a particularly heinous crime, is fueled by the use of free and widely available technologies and platforms that allow the proliferation of sexual abuse materials, such as pornographic images and videos of children in sexual acts. The permanency of images and videos on the internet means these children are continually victimized with each view, to say nothing of the horrors they undergo when living in such slavery and being forced to perform these horrific acts.
Tragically, this scourge on our society is continuing to increase exponentially. Ideally, America should be leading in the investigation, prosecution, and incarceration of the purveyors, victimizers, and consumers of child sexual abuse. However, the United States has the dubious distinction of leading the world in the production and consumption of child abuse content, and we are number two in the world for hosting child sex abuse URLs.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the amount of child sex abuse material has skyrocketed over the past 5 years. Monthly reports of this material reached 2 million in 2020 and increased by an additional 35% from 2020 to 2021. In 2021 alone, the tipline received 29.3 million reports of suspected child sexual abuse, and tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused – double what was found the previous year.
While the New York Times investigation elicited a strong response from the Biden administration and a promise to will crack down on child labor practices and general human trafficking, this phenomenon is not new and until now there is little evidence to suggest that the Biden Administration understands that its own border policies are exacerbating the situation. The strongest thing America can do is to end the human trafficking crisis is to secure the border. However, the Biden administration has repeatedly failed to make this a priority, despite the influx of human traffickers, drugs, gang members, illegal immigrants, and even terrorists who are able to enter our country illegally.
Human trafficking is one of the greatest travesties of the modern world. It operates in the shadows and may not be obvious in our everyday lives but it is a major problem in both our own country and the rest of the world. Hundreds of thousands of children are victimized in the most horrific ways every single year, and little is done to stop this from happening. The first step to fixing the problem in our country is to be serious about the solution. By securing the Southern border, the Biden administration can help stem the flow of human trafficking into our country and help end this international travesty.