President Bush has announced an increase in the budget to fight the trade in human beings. Officials estimate that each year between 600,000 and 800,000 people are forced across international borders against their will.
President Bush said it take a special kind of depravity to exploit the most vulnerable members of society. "Human traffickers rob children of their innocence," he said. "They expose them to the worst of life before they have seen much of life. Traffickers tear families apart. They treat their victims as nothing more than goods and commodities for sale to the highest bidder."
Mr. Bush spoke to a conference of law enforcement officials involved in breaking up the trade in human beings, which is now the third largest source of money for organized crime behind arms and drugs.
Officials say nearly 20,000 people are brought into the United States each year. Eighty percent are females, and 70 percent of those victims are forced into the commercial sex industry.
President Bush said human trafficking brings suffering to the innocent and shame to the country. "The American government has a particular duty, because human trafficking is an affront to the defining promise of our country," he said. "People come to America hoping for a better life. It is a terrible tragedy when anyone comes here only to be forced into a sweatshop, domestic servitude, pornography, or prostitution."
The president announced $14 million worth of new spending for local law enforcement agencies and service providers in 25 communities as well as nearly $5 million for nine local organizations running shelters for victims of trafficking.
Since 2001, the Bush Administration has provided more than $295 million to support anti-trafficking programs in more than 120 countries.
Last year, he launched a $50 million program currently funding efforts in Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Moldova, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.