00:47 - Source: CNN
President Trump: Don't be too nice

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Trump might have confused human trafficking with human smuggling

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment

Washington CNN —  

President Donald Trump told a group of law enforcement officials in Long Island on Friday that human trafficking is “worse now that it ever was.”

“Human traffickers. This is a term that’s been going on from the beginning of time, and they say it’s worse now than it ever was,” he said. “You go back 1,000 years, where you think of human trafficking, you go back 500 years, 200 years, 100 years, human trafficking, they say – think of it, what they do – human trafficking is worse now, maybe, than it’s ever been in the history of this world.”

It is unclear, however, if Trump meant human trafficking or human smuggling, the latter of which saw a surge in border states this year. Human trafficking is the act of trading humans for forced labor or sexual slavery, which would make Trump remarks that it’s worse “than it ever was” incorrect.

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The slave trade, which existed in the United States until the 1860s, brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to North America. Slavery was also practiced in colonies in North and South America and the Caribbean, keeping millions more in involuntary servitude.

Compared to that, the National Human Trafficking Hotline found that about 7,500 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2016, up from about 5,500 the previous year – so while an uptick, it’s certainly not “worse now, maybe, than it’s ever been,” as Trump said.

CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.