Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged late Tuesday morning that his state would use “every resource at [its] disposal” to put human traffickers out of business and into prison.
“So, all in, human trafficking across this country is a $150 billion-dollar illegal enterprise. And, I’m here to say that Florida – we want to use every resource at our disposal to put human traffickers out of business and into jail,” he told a crowd at Broward County’s Lighthouse Point.
The Department of Homeland Security’s annual report from Oct. 2020 to Sept. 2021 said annual global profits for traffickers amount to that much.
DeSantis was there to sign related bills, including SB 7064 to combat the problem and support victims and SB 1690 to require hotels to follow current human trafficking awareness laws and enhance protection for young children.
He also signed HB 1465 to strengthen penalties for criminals to prey upon these victims.
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Before detailing the legislation, the governor and rumored 2024 presidential contender swiped at the White House, telling attendees that Florida had been “kicking the rear end of the Biden administration” on border security, providing support to Texas. He noted that last year, 72% of all human trafficking victims were migrants, a statistic reported by the Human Trafficking Institute.
DeSantis brought up a Florida grand jury report that accused the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement of “facilitating the forced migration, sale and abuse of foreign children.” He filed a petition last year for the Florida Supreme Court to “impanel a statewide grand jury to examine international human smuggling networks that bring aliens to the southern border, and ultimately to Florida.”
After signing the bills, the governor took several questions from reporters.
DeSantis noted that former President Trump had not answered whether he would have signed a heartbeat bill into law.
Trump attacked DeSantis for his abortion stance just a day earlier, suggesting that the Sunshine State’s six-week restriction is “too harsh.”
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“He has to do what he has to do,” he reportedly told The Messenger on Monday. “If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don’t even know if he knew what he was doing. But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.”
DeSantis was also asked what he would do, as president, regarding the conclusions made in a report from Special Counsel John Durham on the Trump-Russia investigation.
“Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report,” the report said.
DeSantis told the reporter that he had been one of the “maybe five or six members of Congress that said, ‘No. This is bogus and this is an abuse of power.’”
“And, I was right and my brethren were right,” he noted, calling it a “massive abuse of power” that was attempting to “kneecap” the administration.
He said seeing the lack of accountability and the abuse of power changed how he viewed “this whole apparatus,” noting that “nobody has really been held accountable.”
The governor said he would “clean house top to bottom in these agencies,” understanding that there will be a lot of people who wouldn’t like him “holding the swamp accountable.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Adam Shaw and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.
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