Remarks by President Trump in Meeting on Human Trafficking on the Southern Border
Cabinet Room February 1, 2019 11:54 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everybody. We appreciate it. The jobs numbers just came out and we added 304,000 jobs, which was a shocker to a lot of people. It wasn't a shocker to me. The country is doing really well. We have the strongest economy anywhere in the world, by far. And we're the strongest nation in the world. So that was really good. But those numbers were very, very impressive.
Labor force participation rose 63.2 - and rose to 63.2. That's a great number. Hourly earnings rose. For people working, the earnings rose. Those are numbers that you didn't used to hear very much. So we're very honored. But very importantly, we added 304,000 jobs. Estimates were 150 [thousand] to 170 [thousand], and it turned out to be 304,000. So that's a big, big number.
Companies are reporting extremely well. Numbers on earnings have been great. And I think we are headed in a very, very powerful direction. Other countries are not doing well. Actually, that's probably - in many ways, that's one of the headwinds that we have. Because other countries in other areas are not doing well, and we're doing fantastically well.
So we'll take that every single time. But we'd like to see others do better. China is having a very tough time. As you know, Europe - the EU is having a pretty tough time. So I guess it makes our numbers look even more important. It makes them look even better.
We're here to talk about human trafficking on the southern border. This is a group of incredible people who we've been working with in different levels, in different forms. And they're going to be speaking, most of them, and telling you some stories and how we need border security. And if we don't have it, the Democrats, frankly, will be doing this country a tremendous disservice. Nancy Pelosi is doing a very, very great disservice to our country. And I think she's got to get on the ball, because we're going to have a wall that's being built anyway.
But if you don't have it - human trafficking, just as an example. When you see today what's going on, people that aren't willing to do what they have to do, and they know what they have to do, they're doing the country a tremendous disservice.
We're here to directly, from members of law enforcement, hear what they have to say, and battling the scourge of human trafficking on our southern border and all across our nation. Much of it comes - in fact, most of it comes - some people would say almost all of it - from the southern border, which we can stop very easily. This is not something you can go through points of entry. You can't just say that you have three people in a car and bound up and all sorts of problems, and you can't go through a port of entry, obviously. They go through areas where we don't have a wall.
So I want to thank Secretary Nielsen, Associate Chief Carl McClafferty, and Acting ICE Director Ron Vitiello for joining us for this important event. Really important event. Human trafficking is worse now than it's ever been in the history of our world. It's a world problem. It's a U.S. problem, but it's a world problem, caused, to a certain extent, by the Internet. One of the reasons that we have it so bad is the Internet. That's why it's picked up tremendously over the last five years, because of the Internet.
My administration has made the fight against human trafficking one of our highest priorities. In the past several weeks, I've signed four robust pieces of bipartisan human trafficking legislation. My Director of Intelligence - and we have a group of people that are incredible - they've elevated the human trafficking problem to the highest levels. We're watching closer than ever before. We're studying people that are doing it. We're following them. We're capturing them. But our job could be made a lot easier if we had support for what the incredible law enforcement folks do at the southern border.
Our progress will be limited if we do not secure our porous border and put an end to the human trafficking and humanitarian crisis that is taking place at the southern border. It is indeed a crisis. And, you know, we have right now an invasion. If you look at what's going on with the caravans, it's an invasion. There are three caravans heading our way. If we had a wall, it wouldn't even be a problem. But we've sent 2,500 military down to help Border Patrol and law enforcement. And I have to say, the military has done an incredible job, including helping us with some walls and some fences, which are very nice to say.
Unsecure borders give traffickers free and clear passage to transport their victims into the United States. It's a tremendously big money-maker for some very, very bad people. In fiscal year 2018, ICE made more than 1,500 human trafficking arrests, with 97 percent of that for sex trafficking. And it's a big movement now because of the Super Bowl, if you can believe this. They are bringing in a lot of women through the southern border for the Super Bowl.
And then I have people like Nancy Pelosi and Democrats that say, "Oh, we don't need a wall." And they come through areas where you don't have any form of barrier protection.
In a moment, we'll hear from several individuals who are working tirelessly every single day to fight the trafficking, rescue victims, and support survivors. Survivors need tremendous support. What they go through is unimaginable.
Former DHS Special Agent and advocate, Timothy Ballard, who is here, will detail one case where a 13-year-old girl from Central America was kidnapped, trafficked across a section of our border without a wall, and then horribly abused in captivity while in New York City, taken right through a certain section where there is no wall and you can't see anything for miles and miles and miles. They could have come through anywhere they wanted. And if we have that all filled up, it would be very hard.
Even one woman or one child trafficked is too many. But there are thousands and thousands and thousands, and it's billions of dollars of money flowing into the pockets of some very bad criminals. There are potential victims, including young children, that we can still protect if we act now to secure our border and build a wall. The case for building a wall is everything. It's everything.
Human trafficking by airplane is almost impossible. Human trafficking by van and truck, in the backseat of a car, and going through a border where there's nobody for miles and miles, and there's no wall to protect - it's very easy. They make a right, then they make a left. They come into our country. And they sell people. And we cannot let it go on.
And the Democrats can play their game. But if you watch them in interviews, they want to get off that subject so fast because there's no way they can justify the fact that a wall works. It works so well. I watched them the other day. I watched a couple of high-ranking Democrats trying to explain that walls are not necessary really; they're immoral. What's immoral is when people come into our country and kill innocent victims.
If you look at the San Diego area, if you look at many areas where you have the wall; if you look at Tijuana - if we didn't a wall in Tijuana now, you'd have people coming in by the tens of thousands. But we have a wall. It's an old wall. It's not a good wall, and it still works.
What we're building is incredible. We're building a lot of wall right now. We're renovating wall and we're building wall, and we're going to continue to build wall, regardless of what happens with this committee, which I say is a waste of time. Because any recommendation that comes back to me - and I'm a very modern guy. They like to say walls are medieval. They work, 100 percent. And what doesn't work is technology, if you don't have the wall. The technology is called the "bells and whistles." And we have the top law enforcement people in the country here - really, in the world. And they will tell you that, without the wall, it all doesn't work; it can't come together.
If you just take a look at parts, take a look at Tijuana, imagine that. Imagine us taking that wall and moving it to Texas. Let's take it up and move it to Texas. They would like to have it. Let's take it up and move it right over to Arizona or New Mexico. They would love to have it. They would love to have it. And you would have thousands and thousands of people. There would be nothing you could do to stop the people from pouring across.
But we're here to talk about human trafficking, and this is something where people have no idea how bad it's become. Worse than ever at any time in the history of our world because of the Internet.
So I'm going to ask Secretary Nielsen to speak, and then we're going to show you some videos and some other things. And I don't think there will be anybody up there, including from the media, that disagrees with me. They may not write it that way, but there will be nobody that disagrees with me.
SECRETARY NIELSEN: Thank you. Well, first I want to thank everyone for being here. Greatly appreciate it. Mr. President, thank you always for your leadership.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
SECRETARY NIELSEN: This is an extraordinarily important topic. And as you've said many, many times, it's a horrific, horrendous, and horrible ongoing tragedy and crisis that we have due to our vulnerabilities on the southern border. So thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
SECRETARY NIELSEN: This is an insidious form of modern-day slavery. That's what this is. This is not a problem that is experienced in other places of the world. It's experienced here, today, in the United States of America. It is something that this entire administration is committed to combatting. It takes very close coordination with state and local governments but also with our international partners to take down transnational criminal organizations that are at the heart of this crime.
And before we turn to other people, I just want to talk a little bit about the fact that this is directly related to our unsecure southern border. Transnational criminal organizations have taken advantage of our unsecure border. The result is that we continually see young girls used as pawns to line the pockets not only of criminal illegal aliens, but also the cartels who violate our nation's borders and our laws, and use that money to fund other criminal enterprises.
The President mentioned the Super Bowl. I just want to pause to say DHS - in addition, I'd like to thank the over 600 DHS personnel who are on the ground in Atlanta to help the state and local secure the Super Bowl. But we also continue to do our other mission (inaudible), which includes combatting human trafficking. We have made over 40 arrests, and some of the victims that we have saved unfortunately include underage children that had been brought in for the purposes of being sold and abused as part of Super Bowl activities.
So I want to thank all of HSI for their great work continually, but also as we prepare for the Super Bowl.
So, before we turn to our law enforcement folks at the table, what we'd like to is turn to Tim Ballard, who is the Founder and CEO of Operation Underground, and also to Alma Tucker - thanks to both of them for being here - the Founder and President of the International Network of Hearts.
They'll be talking to us about their experiences assisting victims, sir. So I'd like to start with - perhaps with Tim and then with Alma.
MR. BALLARD: Thank you so much, Mr. President. Thank you very much. I spent 12 years as a special agent, as an undercover operator, working on the southern border, working sex trafficking cases. And I can tell you, you're exactly right.
One little girl I can tell you about. In fact, I introduced this little girl to Ms. Trump during a private briefing. This little girl was kidnapped in Central America. Eleven years old. Groomed for two years with the intent of getting her ready to come to America. Why? Because we are the highest-consuming nation of child pornography. We are the clientele that's the big money.
They brought this little girl through a part of the southern border where there was no wall, easily got her to New York City. And this is hard to hear but this is the truth, and everyone needs to hear this. This little girl - and this is very typical - raped for money every day, 30 to 40 times a day. If that's not a crisis, if that's not an emergency, I don't know what is.
Now, let me say this: Had there been a wall, had there been a barrier, this little girl likely would have been saved, because the traffickers would have been forced to take this child through the port of entry where we have amazing law enforcement. I've worked with these people. These are the best people on the planet. They can detect. They have equipment. They have trained agents.
In contrast, while this was happening, I was working another case. A little boy - a Mexican boy who was kidnapped by an American trafficker, by a child pornographer. He kidnapped Mexican children, brought them to San Bernardino County, where he had a makeshift studio, made child porn with these little children. Five years old.
This little boy was kidnapped in Mexicali, Mexico where there was a wall, where there is a barrier. And so he was forced to take this little boy through the Calexico port of entry. And guess what? It worked. We captured him. We rescued the little boy, and subsequently rescued 12 other children in San Bernardino, California.
The difference between those two cases is two plus two equals four. The wall was a difference. The wall rescued this little boy, and the lack of a wall caused this little girl to go through a hell that is indescribable, that is not manufactured. It is a real crisis. It is a real emergency.
THE PRESIDENT: And you have many thousands of people like this.
MR. BALLARD: Thousands. This is happening all the time. We work in Mexico. We have done several operations. I just met with the Secretary of State - their equivalent - Olga Sanchez, just last month about this.
We are having to do operations in Mexico, our foundation, working with law enforcement, to be - essentially become the wall because there is no wall. We're forward deployed. It's like trying to catch flies with chopsticks. It works. We can make it work. But if we had a big, you know, fly swatter, which would hit the wall, that would be a lot better. It stops it.