Last month, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr announced that more than $100 million in federal grants will go to fighting human trafficking, according to the Associated Press. Task forces, as well as nonprofits helping survivors, will receive the grants to continue their work.
“This is one of the top enforcement priorities of the department and we’re on the forefront of this fight,” said Barr in Atlanta with presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
The announcement came only a few months after the Trump administration awarded the Justice Department with an additional $35 million to provide safe housing for trafficking survivors.
Georgia’s governor and his wife, Marty Kemp, have made the abolition of sex trafficking a priority in their state.
“The governor and the first lady here have been second to none in the nation in taking this fight on and working closely with the federal government and I really appreciate that,” Barr said.
Already, grants have allowed states to hire agents to investigate trafficking claims. Michael Yeager, U.S. Marshal for northern Georgia, praised the work of his fellow agents who recently rescued 26 children and located 13.
“We’re trained to hunt fugitives, so we’ve changed that and parlayed that into now hunting these children,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, officers rescued 35 missing children, according to CBN News.
Floriano Whitwell of the US Marshals Service said he was not aware of child trafficking’s prevalence. Once he became commander of the sex offender investigations branch, his “eyes were opened.”
“In order for us to deploy these resources, it detracts from other mission sets that are equally as important,” he said. “Our leadership is very passionate and supportive of this initiative, and we’re trying to throw as many resources at it as we can, but the reality is, we’re just scratching the surface.”
Christians around the country have noticed the troubling trend and joined the fight. All Things Possible Ministries led by former Army Ranger Jeff Tiegs said his organization locates potential victims to help over-worked officers.
“They need help on the front end identifying the victim. They need that level of probable cause, reasonable suspicion. That’s what we offer law enforcement,” he said. “So we figure out who those girls are who are being sold and potentially who their trafficker is and we push that information to law enforcement to take action. And then they will conduct an operation, a sting and they will offer her a new life, a path to freedom.”
Christian girls in suburbs have also become a target for traffickers.
"To get the girl that comes from a broken, abusive relationship, that didn't stroke his ego,” he said. “But for him to be able to pluck a pretty young woman from a Christian family in the suburbs and turn her out to sell her body for sex through him, to be trafficked, that was an ego boost for him."
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.