WASHINGTON, D.C. — To mark the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the White House hosted a human trafficking summit. State and local leaders from around the country were in attendance.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the United States. That’s why, on Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order dedicating more resources to the fight against it, and created a new White House position.
“Dedicated solely to combating human trafficking,” said Trump.
Survivors, like Courtney Litvak, attended the White House summit. Litvak was a high school student in a suburb of Houston. She said people at her high school lured her into a trafficking ring.
“And it doesn’t present itself as organized crime, as something where you’re going to be exploited sexually, physically,” said Litvak.
“Congress needs to hear more of these stories so we can pass more legislation,” said Representative Michael McCaul.
Human trafficking has evolved in the digital age, and officials from around the country said one of their biggest challenges is fighting websites and phone apps that are used to lure victims and traffic them.
Florida officials are also focusing on fighting trafficking offline and said large, crowded events like the upcoming Super Bowl can attract traffickers.
“So you have people that come into those communities that they look to prey during those times when there’s a huge collection of individuals,” said Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez.
Nunez said the state is partnering with companies like Uber and hotels so employees know how to spot signs of trafficking.
The president’s executive order will also make similar training available online for everyone.
Some of the nation’s most prominent human trafficking organizations skipped the White House event, in part because they said the Trump Administration has made it harder to obtain special visas meant for trafficking victims.