At any moment, there are more than one million images of children being sexually exploited on the Internet, with an additional 200 images being posted every day, according to Department of Justice estimates.
And more than one-third of the world's pedophiles involved in organized distribution of child pornography worldwide live in the U.S. The Internet allows these images to be disseminated indefinitely, victimizing that child victim again and again with each click of the mouse.
To combat this growing epidemic, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) introduced and passed an amendment to provide $20 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to aid in child exploitation investigations.
"This amendment protects our most vulnerable constituents -- our children," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "With the proliferation of the Internet and wireless technology, the spread of child pornography online must be addressed aggressively and quickly. My amendment directs additional funding to go toward Immigration and Customs Enforcement to aide in child exploitation investigations.
"Since the 1970s, ICE has been a leader in the fight to protect our children. As recently as 2009, ICE was responsible for 52 percent of cases prosecuted for receipt or distribution of child pornography, and 90 percent of cases prosecuted for child sex tourism. This is in addition to hundreds of arrests every year, and thousands of children rescued to date. Their efforts are second to none, and I know they will put these resources to good use. Our children, the most innocent among us, deserve and need our help."
"The most dangerous criminal is the one that targets our children," said Camille Cooper, with the National Association to Protect Children. "ICE's C3 unit tracks thousands of criminals targeting American children from around the world, and the Wasserman Schultz amendment gives them the power to hunt them down and stop them before they strike. We thank the Congresswoman, as always, for her bipartisan approach."
Wasserman Schultz also urged ICE to use the additional funds to hire wounded veterans as they return home.
"We need the absolute best personnel going into the fight to rescue these children," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "That's why it's my hope that some of these funds will be used to employ our wounded warriors in addition to the experienced agents already fighting these battles. By harnessing the abilities of our wounded warriors, we not only ensure that their skills, dedication, and drive are put to good use back at home -- we give them the most dignified thank-you of all: a job that truly makes a difference."
Additionally, Wasserman Schultz supported an amendment by her colleague, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, (CA-47), which would have transferred $40 million out of $71 million in additional funds that House Republicans added to Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Immigration Detention and Removal Operations account and redirected it to the child exploitation team.