President Trump Participates in a Signing Ceremony for Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation


The President: Okay,
thank you very much. Appreciate you being here.
It hasn’t been so long. Late last night. And we’re having some
very good times in our country. We’re doing very well,
except for the border. The border is a big problem.
It’s a very dangerous problem. And — so I can talk all
about the job numbers and how well we’re doing
on the economy. The stock market is up. I guess now we’re over
30 percent since the election. So many good things
are happening, but we have to take care
of the border. And we’re all working together.
I really believe the Democrats and the Republicans
are working together. I think that something
will happen. I hope. Otherwise, we’ll go about it
in a different manner. And I don’t think we’ll have
to do that, but you never know. In a few moments,
I’ll sign legislation continuing my administration’s
extensive efforts to combat the scourge
of human trafficking. I spoke about it last night.
Human trafficking. It really hits a nerve.
We’re talking about, in many cases,
women and children grabbed, thrown into the backseat
of a car, or thrown into a van
with no windows, with no — any form of air.
Tape put across their mouths. And they’re brought
across the border. And they don’t go
through checkpoints; they go through the emptiest
spot they can find, with no walls,
with no fences. I want to thank
Vice President Pence, who’s here;
Secretary Nielsen; Acting Attorney General Whitaker
; Secretary Azar; a woman known
as Ivanka Trump. (laughter) She’s a great one.
Where’s Ivanka? Good. Hi, Ivanka. (applause) She’s worked very hard on this.
This is very close to her heart. Deputy Secretary Sullivan;
Administrator Green; Acting Director Vitiello;
Assistant Secretary Johnson; and Ambassador Richmond
for being here today. It’s a group of people
that has really, really worked,
and they worked hard. I also want to recognize
a great friend of mine, a man who’s done so well and so popular in
the state of Ohio, Rob Portman. Where’s Rob?
Great job, Rob. Appreciate it. And Senator Chris Coons,
who, on occasion, we disagree, but I actually like him. (laughter) We pray together, right?
That’s a good step. Representatives Michael McCaul, my friend Susan Brooks,
Ann Wagner, and Chris Smith. I signed Representative Smith’s
anti-trafficking bill yesterday
that was just signed. And I want to thank you
very much. You worked hard on it.
We all worked hard on it. Anti-trafficking. And, you know,
just so we understand, human trafficking now
is bigger worldwide. This is not a U.S. situation;
this is a world situation. Because of the Internet,
far worse than it ever has been. You would think that was
an ancient form of criminality. It’s not.
It’s a very modern-day form. And because of the Internet,
what they do with the Internet and how they find people through
the Internet is disgraceful. We’re also honored to be joined
by many from law enforcement who fight this heinous crime
every single day. Finally, I want to thank
the inspiring advocates and survivors. And we have numerous
of them with us, and maybe they’ll say
a few words. My administration has made
the fight against human trafficking one
of the highest priorities. Today’s bill marks
the fourth robust piece of bipartisan legislation — and it is bipartisan,
I have to tell you; the Democrats have been great — that I’ve signed
in just the last weeks. We have a couple of others here
that are already signed, having to do
with the same situation. Little different
but all related. And it’s just over
the last couple of weeks that we’ve signed this.
It’s been a very strong priority but it’s not easy
getting everyone together. But this was, Chris,
I would say, about as easy as it gets,
because this is a problem that there is no definition
of the other side. There’s only one side. So I want to thank Democrats for
helping us out with this one. But still, much work remains. We cannot defeat the menace of
international human trafficking if we do not secure our border. They’re bringing them
through the border. That’s where they’re coming from
in this part of the world. All over the world —
but in this part of the world, they’re bringing them
through the border. They’re driving in, and they’re
not going through checkpoints, because you can’t have four
or five people sitting in the back of a car
with tape over your mouth and your hands tied
and go through somebody that’s checking out your car
or your van. Unsecure borders allow
traffickers clear passage to transport their victims. And into the United States,
it’s very easy to come. All you do is drive 20 miles
one way or the other, and you’ll find an open spot
where there’s no protection, and then you’ll go
hundreds of miles where you’ll see pure,
open spots. In fiscal year 2018, ICE made more than 1,500
human trafficking arrests. Mostly sex trafficking. I’d like to ask Acting Attorney
General Matt Whitaker and Assistant Attorney
General Eric Dreiband to say a few words
about the recent case that dismantled a Mexican
sex-trafficking organization that was brutal, that operated
in the United States and horrendously abused young
women from Latin America. A brutal, brutal situation. Could I ask Matt
to say a few words? Acting Attorney
General Whitaker: Yeah. Thank you, Mr. President.
I agree with you, human trafficking is a scourge
on humanity, internationally and here
in the United States. And it’s something
the Department of Justice is absolutely committed
to ending and something for which we have leadership
in the federal government and across the country
in law enforcement to do all we can to prevent these
horrific cases from happening. We’re going to prosecute those
that engage in these offenses, wherever we encounter them, and we will bring justice
to the victims of these crimes. While human trafficking happens
both internationally and domestically, undoubtedly,
human trafficking — and the criminals
who engage in it — significantly are aided by a porous
and unsecure southern border. We need to be able to control
those who are entering and leaving our country. And a southern border
that is not secure exacerbates the incidence
of human trafficking. There is broad bipartisan
support, as we see here today,
to end human trafficking. There should be broad
bipartisan support to secure
the southern border so that we can more effectively
combat human trafficking. We need a secure southern
border, and we need Congress
to do something about it. I’m going to turn
to Eric Dreiband, our Assistant Attorney General
for the Civil Rights Division, to talk a little bit
about a case that we just announced,
some convictions. And I also want
to introduce Rich Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the
Eastern District of New York, whose office
prosecuted that case. So, go ahead, Eric. Mr. Dreiband: Thank you, Matt.
Thank you, Mr. President. First of all, thank you
for prioritizing the prosecution of human trafficking here
in the United States. The case that Acting Attorney
General Whitaker mentioned was
a very complicated, long-running human
trafficking case where Mexican nationals
were engaged in trafficking young girls
and women across the border, smuggling these women
across the border, into the United States, and forcing them
into prostitution. Working with the United States
Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn and in Atlanta, as well as the Department
of Homeland Security, the Justice Department
attained convictions of eight
of these individuals. And earlier this week,
five of the eight were sentenced
to extensive prison sentences. In addition, we are now working
with the victims in this case and in all others, the victims
of human trafficking, whose lives have been devastated by these kinds
of horrible crimes. So, thank you,
Mr. President. The President: And thank you
very much, Eric. And Rich also, because Rich
has done an incredible job of not only prosecution but
other things that are coming up. And maybe you’d say
a few words. Mr. Donoghue: We have
a tremendous team in Brooklyn and across the Eastern District
of New York. But every day we go to work, we see the results of having
a border that’s not secure, whether it’s MS-13,
drug trafficking, or human trafficking
that we’re talking about today. Our folks get up every day, work with our law enforcement
partners diligently, and protect the victims
and protect our country. But the reality is, as long as we a have border
that is not secure, we are going to suffer
the consequences of that. And so, stepping forward,
we think that it would be a tremendous advantage
to us in law enforcement, in New York
and across the country, to have a border
that is secure so we can protect our people
and protect our country. The President: Thank you.
Good job. Thank you. The fact is that if we don’t
have barriers, walls — call them what you want — but if we don’t have
very strong barriers, where people cannot any
longer drive right across — they have unbelievable vehicles.
They make a lot of money. They have the best vehicles
you can buy. They have stronger, bigger, and faster vehicles
than our police have, and then ICE has,
and then Border Patrol has. So they’re pretty good at that.
They have areas that they go to. It’s like a highway.
And we have to close them up. And if we don’t close them up,
you’re all kidding yourselves. Look, we can all play games,
but a wall is a necessity. All of the other things —
the sensors and the drones — it’s all wonderful to have
and it works well, but only if you have the wall. If you don’t have the wall,
it doesn’t matter. A drone isn’t stopping
a thousand people from running through.
And so we can all talk. And, you know, interestingly,
if you look, virtually every Democrat
over the last 15 years, they’ve approved
what we’re asking for. So I think we’re doing
something. I think we’re getting closer. But we really have to think
about the people of our country. This is not a fight I wanted.
I didn’t want this fight. We have to think about
the people of our country, and we have to do
what’s right at our border and many other places. But we have to do
what’s right at our border. Human trafficking
cannot be stopped if we don’t have
a steel barrier or a concrete wall —
something very powerful. It cannot be stopped.
There is nothing. We have the most talented law
enforcement people in the world, as far as I’m concerned, right
alongside of me and behind me. It doesn’t mean a thing
if they’re going to be driving women and children
through sections of the border where nobody is,
where you can’t be because you don’t have
enough manpower or womanpower. You don’t have
enough of anything. You have 2,000 miles of border. So if you’re not going to
stop it, in all fairness, there’s not much they can do. They can get them
every once in a while; but the other way,
we can eliminate the problem as it pertains to the area
that is the worst problem. Probably the world’s
worst problem — because they come into
the United States because we have the money.
That’s true with drugs. And everything I said
for human trafficking is also true with drugs. So we got to get the politics
out of this and go back to common sense. You know, they say it’s
a medieval solution, a wall. That’s true. It’s medieval
because it worked then, and it works even better now.
Israel put up a wall — 99.9 percent successful,
according to Bibi Netanyahu. He came into my office
a couple of months ago. He said, “What’s with the wall?
We put up a wall. It was 99.9 percent successful.”
99.9. I said, “Do you mind
if I use that number?” He said — because, you know,
they’ll fact-check it and they’ll go and say, “Oh,
it actually only 99 percent. The President told a fib.”
No, he told me 99.9. Maybe he’ll change it
and make it 99. But they put up a wall and they
don’t have a problem anymore. And we have to do
the same thing. The United States must not
incentivize or enable these evil crimes. Instead, we should do everything
we can to fight them. And that’s what we’re doing. I call on Congress
to send me a funding bill to secure the border,
build a barrier, and help end this horrific
assault on innocent life, not to mention the drugs, not to mention the gangs
and the criminals. And I will very gladly sign
this legislation having to do specifically with a horrible,
horrible worldwide problem: human trafficking.
And it’s my honor to do it, and I very much appreciate
all of the Democrat support. I very much do.
Thank you. Okay. (applause) Just, I’ll explain to the
press: So often — my whole life I’ve watched Presidents, they’d sign
one letter at a time. One letter. Did you ever look
at these signatures? They’re a disaster. So I sign it with one pen
and then I hand out pens. It works out much better.
It’s also a lot faster. Secretary Nielsen: Let’s
get some to the ICE guys. The President: Folks —
pass them. Yeah, where are my ICE guys?
Come on. Where are they? Just pass them around.
I think we have enough. We have enough for everybody. We’re pretty accurate
in our count. Okay? Here you go.
Where’s my senator back there? At least we have to care
of the Republican senator. (Laughter.) We took care
of the Democrat, right? Michael, you have it?
Good. Pass that around, fellas.
Chris. The Press: Mr. President,
what do you say to those federal workers —
security guards, Secret Service agents,
TSA agents — who are now going without pay? The President: I think they
have been terrific. These are terrific patriots. A lot of them agree
with what I’m doing. And I hope we’re going to have
the situation worked out. But they want security
in our country, and so do I. That’s all we want.
We want security. We want common sense and we
want security in our security. When you look at
what’s going on — immigration just went
to very high on your list. I saw even on your list. Immigration is very high
on the list. But we’re not talking about
just immigration. And I would like — and I’ll say it in front of some
of our Democrat friends here — I would love to see
a big immigration bill, where we really take care
of the situation. I know you want to.
Everybody wants to. Who wouldn’t want it? Right now we have a problem.
We have to take care of this, and it’s quicker and easier
to do this individually. But we would like to see
real immigration reform in this country, because we need it,
and it can be a beautiful thing. And with all of the companies
coming into our country — we have seven car companies now
that are announcing, or have announced
just recently, and we have many car companies
and other companies — as you know,
they’re flowing in. We have the best job numbers,
virtually, that we’ve ever had. For African American,
the best ever. Hispanic, Asian, the best ever.
The best in 50 years. And the overall number,
soon that’s going to be beaten. So we have the best job numbers.
We need people. We need great, qualified people.
We want them to come in. So I think it’s a great time
right now, because of that. We need people, Rob. And, I mean, in Ohio,
you need workers. And I know you feel
the same way. I know Chris —
I mean, I’ll speak to Chris. But everybody wants
to see immigration reform. It just — it’s overdue. And it’s always been
very political, and maybe this will turn out
to be a blessing in disguise. But, Jon, I will tell you this:
The people out there want something to happen
at our southern border, whether it’s human trafficking,
whether it’s drugs, whether it’s criminals,
whether it’s MS-13. The folks behind me
know all about MS-13 and how violent
and vicious they are, and where they come from. And they all come
from the same place. And they call come
in the same way; they come right across
that border. And we’ve thrown thousands out. I would say thousands —
right, fellas? I mean, literally MS-13.
Secretary Nielsen: Yes. The President: And you have
a lot of it, I know that, Rich. We throw thousands out, a year,
and then they come back. And we move them all the way
back to where they came from. All the way back. And they find a way
to come back again. We need strong borders,
and we need immigration reform. Beyond that,
we need immigration reform. Ok, let’s go. The Press: But these people
have to go without their paychecks. Some of them are being forced
to work without pay. Some have been furloughed.
These are — The President: They all get
their money. They’re all going
to get the money. And I think they’re
going to be happy. And I will tell you —
and I say it often: Many of those that you’re
talking about so humanly, the way you express it, but many of those people that
you talk about are on my side. I’ve had so many people — the beautiful thing
is with social media: The world can write to you. And you take a look
at social media. So many of those people
are saying, “It’s very hard for me.
It’s very hard for my family. But, Mr. President, you’re doing
the right thing. Get it done.” I’ve had so many of them.
They’re patriots. They love our country,
and they want to see it be done. Look, this is just common sense. They want to see
it be done correctly. We need a barrier. We have to stop people from
coming in the way they come in. And if we don’t have it — you can never have
border security unless you have a steel
barrier, a concrete wall. You can call it
whatever you want. But without it,
you’ll never have — you can have the greatest
talent in the world. You will never, ever,
in a million years, you will not have
border security. Can’t happen. The Press: Mr. President,
what’s your current thinking on
a national emergency? Why didn’t you
announce it last night? And when might you — The President: Because I think
we might work a deal. And if we don’t,
I may go that route. I have the absolute right to do
national emergency if I want. The Press: And what’s
your threshold for when you might make
that decision? The President: My threshold
will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are
unreasonable. The Press: What’s your message
to the Republicans who are now
on Capitol Hill saying — The President: Oh, I think
we have tremendous Republican support.
I tell you what: I just spoke to a few
of the people in the House. We have tremendous support.
The Senate has been incredible. Mitch McConnell
has been incredible. He said, “If the President
is not going to sign, then I’m not going
to waste my time.” And, I mean, Rob Portman is
here — he can tell you — he’s very strong
on border security. We have tremendous support
in the Senate. We have tremendous support
in the House. And, by the way — you know,
they say, “Oh, is it true that somebody — you know,
a congressman, he broke away?” Let me tell you —
yeah, every once in a while, you’re going to have that.
But you know who else has that? The Democrats have that too, because they have their people
breaking away too. You know why? Because they know
you need border security. But you don’t report that. But the fact is that there
is tremendous support. I would know — without support, I would be
the first one to know. I may be the last one too.
But there is tremendous support. Right now, if I did something
that was foolish, like gave up on border security, the first ones that would hit me
are my senators. They’d be angry at me. The second ones
would be the House. And the third ones would be,
frankly, my base and a lot of Republicans
out there, and a lot of Democrats that want
to see border security. Okay. What else? Any questions? The Press: So why not sign
the other bills, though? So some of these workers can get
paid, and the government — The President: You think
I should do that? The Press: Yeah, you can — The President: No, no,
do you think I should do that, Jon? The Press: Well, it’s not
for me to say that. The President: I mean, I watch
your one-sided reporting. Do you think I should do that? Hey, Jon — no, seriously, Jon,
do you think I should just sign? The Press: Well, the argument –
– The President: No, no, tell me.
Tell me. The Press: — (inaudible)
sign these bills that have nothing to do
with border security. The President: Jon,
do you think I should just sign? The Press: I’m saying that,
if you sign that, these workers can start getting paid,
the government can start — The President: So you would
do that? If you were in my position,
you’d do that? The Press: I’m not
in your position. I’m asking if you’ve got
something (inaudible). The President: I’m asking you,
would you do that if you were in my position?
Because if you would do that, you should never be
in this position. (Laughter.) Because you’d never get
anything done. Goodbye, everybody.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

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