WASHINGTON - The White House will host a summit on human trafficking at the end of January marking 20 years since Congress made it a federal crime, amid an uptick in reported cases in recent years.
Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser, told McClatchy on Tuesday that her father, President Donald Trump, would attend the summit along with Attorney General Bill Barr, members of Congress, and state and local leaders.
"Twenty years ago, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was signed into law," she said. "To honor this milestone as we continue our robust efforts to combat human trafficking at home and abroad, the White House will host a summit to discuss the impact of this landmark legislation and to identify new solutions to end the scourge of modern slavery."
Ivanka Trump has advocated for legislation targeting the illicit trade throughout her father's time in office, and plans to discuss future efforts during a visit to Atlanta on Tuesday, while touring two facilities that help survivors of trafficking.
In 2018, she led successful talks with lawmakers to pass twin bills cracking down on online sex trafficking, which became law, and has worked on other legislation intended to provide additional resources to law enforcement and strengthen the federal government's ability to combat the crime.
But since the end of the Obama administration, experts believe trafficking in the United States has increased, while federal prosecutions of trafficking cases have gone down.
Last fall, the Trump administration unexpectedly postponed a $13.5 million federal grant for emergency and short-term housing for victims of sex and labor trafficking, prompting criticism from lawmakers.
According to the most recent statistics published by the National Human Trafficking Hotline, cases of reported trafficking increased 25% in 2018 from the prior year - and are at their highest since 2012.
The White House said that combating human trafficking is a top priority for the president. The summit will take place on the last day of January, which Trump has proclaimed as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
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