For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 10, 2006
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
1:33 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Thanks for coming. I
appreciate you all being here. In a moment I’ll have the honor of
signing the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
Human trafficking is an offense against human dignity, a crime in which
human beings, many of them teenagers and young children, are bought and
sold and often sexually abused by violent criminals. Our nation is
determined to fight and end this modern form of slavery. And this
bipartisan bill will help expand our efforts to combat this brutal crime
that steals innocence and destroys lives.
I want to thank the members of the United States Congress who have joined
me here. I appreciate Senator Sam Brownback; Chris Smith, Deborah Pryce,
and Carolyn Maloney for their hard work on this important legislation.
(Applause.) I appreciate the Secretary of State who has joined us here.
(Applause.) And the Attorney General, Al Gonzales. (Applause.) And his
In today’s world, too often human traffickers abuse the trust of children
and expose them to the worst of life at a young age. It takes a perverse
form of evil to exploit and hurt those vulnerable members of society.
Human traffickers operate with greed and without conscience, treating
their victims as nothing more than goods and commodities for sale to the
highest bidder. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of people around
the world have been trafficked against their will, across international
boundaries, and many have been forced into sexual servitude. Thousands of
teenagers and young girls are trafficked into the United States every
year. They’re held hostage. They’re forced to submit to unspeakable evil.
America has a particular duty to fight this horror because human
trafficking is an affront to the defining promise of our country.
We’re attacking this problem aggressively. Over the past four years, the
Department of Homeland Security has taken new measures to protect
children from sexual predators, as well as pornography and prostitution
rings. The Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with
faith-based and community organizations to form anti-trafficking
coalitions in 17 major cities across our country. The Department of
Justice has more than tripled the number of cases brought against these
The bill I sign today will help us to continue to investigate and
prosecute traffickers and provide new grants to state and local law
enforcement. Yet, we cannot put the criminals out of business until we
also confront the problem of demand. Those who pay for the chance to
sexually abuse children and teenage girls must be held to account.
(Applause.) So we’ll investigate and prosecute the customers, the
unscrupulous adults who prey on the young and the innocent.
We also have a duty to reach out to victims of trafficking, some of whom
were smuggled into this country as children. The legislation I sign today
will help us provide important new services to these victims, including
appointing a guardian for young victims and providing access to
residential treatment facilities to help victims get a chance at a better
We’ll continue to call on other nations to take action against
trafficking within their own borders. Three years ago, at the United
Nations, I asked other governments to pass laws making human trafficking
a crime. Since then, many have risen to the challenge. Secretary Rice and
I will continue to press the others to rise to the challenge. We are
working with the nations of Southeast Asia and others to crack down on
sex tourism. America is a compassionate and decent nation, and we will
not tolerate an industry that preys on the young and the vulnerable. The
trade in human beings continues in our time and we are called by
conscience and compassion to bring this cruel practice to an end.
For those of you who have worked on this bill, thank you very much. For
those of you who are involved in this important struggle, I appreciate
your efforts, continue to do so. For those of you who are providing the
compassionate care to those who have been affected by human trafficking,
thank you for your love. And for those of you in Congress who have worked
to make this reality, good work. (Applause.)
(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)