Trump says human trafficking increased during pandemic, announces $35M grant to aid victims

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**Watch the video above for our previous report on former Browns coach Hue Jackson’s involvement in the fight against human trafficking.**

WASHINGTON (WJW/AP) — President Donald Trump says human trafficking has increased and dangers for survivors have heightened during the coronavirus pandemic.

The president, addressing the worldwide issue of human trafficking in his Wednesday evening press briefing, said the Justice Department approved more than $35 million in grants to organizations that provide safe housing for victims.

“The Department of Justice has issued $35 million in grants to 73 organizations nationwide providing assistance to human trafficking victims,” Trump said.

Trump explained that human trafficking poses a threat both domestically and internationally.

“You think of human trafficking as being an ancient form of crime. It is not. Because of the internet, it’s a very modern crime all over the world, not just here,” said Trump. “My administration will never rest in the fight against human trafficking.”

The president said his administration is working hard to combat human trafficking, citing that his border wall is now 277 miles long and will be largely finished by the end of the year. Trump says the wall has already “had a tremendous” and “very positive impact” on human trafficking.

Trump also shared that the human trafficking crisis has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Survivors have faced heightened dangers during the pandemic. It’s actually increased during the pandemic,” he explained.

This claim echoed what Presidential Adviser Ivanka Trump said Tuesday at a White House event attended by human trafficking victims and organizations that serve them.

Ivanka Trump, calling human trafficking the “gravest of human rights violations,” said the pandemic has made safe and supportive housing for survivors more important than ever. She added that many survivors had to live with their traffickers during stay-at-home orders around the country.

Attorney General William Barr, also present at Tuesday’s event, called human trafficking an “evil scourge,” and thanked President Trump and his daughter for working to end human trafficking and help survivors.

Beyond the financial support, Barr said his department will do everything possible to “investigate, prosecute and punish” traffickers.

The $35 million in Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Human Trafficking is being provided by the Office for Victims of Crime within the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs to provide housing and services to human trafficking survivors.

The grants will be shared by 73 organizations in 33 states to provide anywhere from six to 24 months of transitional or short-term housing assistance to survivors, including to pay rent, utilities or related expenses, such as a security deposit, the White House said.

The money can also be used to help victims find permanent housing, get a job and receive occupational training and counseling.

Among organizations sharing the grants are Camillus House Inc. in Miami, Alternatives for Girls in Detroit and the Jordan Community Resource Center in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

President Trump has sought to elevate the fight against human trafficking since taking office. In January, he appointed a special adviser for the issue.

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