WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The Biden administration is promising to crack down on human trafficking.
The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons met for the first time Tuesday to talk about the progress the agencies have made and what still needs to be done.
Vice President Kamala Harris opened the meeting with remarks about how the President’s team is focused on the issue.
“Trafficking is an extremely heinous and profitable business,” Harris said.
Martina Vandenberg with the Human Trafficking Legal Center says the administration made a lot of progress last year.
“The U.S. government has blocked about $500 million of goods thought to be made with forced labor from entering the United States,” Vandenberg said.
Advocates say there’s still a lot of work to do to combat human trafficking. The task force says they’re focused on doing more both with prevention and prosecution.
“We must require serious consequence and accountability for those who commit these crimes, and we must work to stop these crimes before they happen,” Harris said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointed to renewed efforts to tackle the issue globally.
“We also have to find more ways to put effective pressure on governments that engage in or enable human trafficking, China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia,” Blinken said.
Vandenberg says it’s important to prosecute the Americans responsible for forced labor too.
“All of the federal prosecutors in the entire country last year, they brought a total of 210 trafficking cases,” Vandenberg said. “But of those 210 cases, only 15 were for forced labor.”
She’s also like to see better treatment for victims.
“Trafficking victims in the United States need to be treated as victims. They should not be arrested. They should not be prosecuted,” Vandenberg said.