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The Justice Department deleted some verbiage on its website about child sex trafficking.
The deleted content did not address the level of priority the department gives to fighting child sex trafficking.
A conservative commentator accused President Joe Biden and the Justice Department of making child sex trafficking a lower law enforcement priority.
"Joe’s DOJ just said that international sex trafficking of minors was not an area of concern and removed it from their list of offenses that deserve a high degree of attention," David Harris Jr. wrote July 13 on Instagram.
The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Information cited by Harris’ team does not back Harris’ claim.
Both cited deletions of information on the child sex trafficking page of the Justice Department website.
But the deleted content did not address child sex trafficking as a priority for the department.
One deletion described how traffickers put children from different parts of the world into prostitution in the U.S. "These victims are often trafficked far from home, and thrown into unfamiliar locations and culture," read one portion of the deletion the article cited.
Another deletion described how traffickers use the internet and cellphones to find more clientele.
The page’s current version, updated May 12, says:
"No child is immune to becoming a victim of child sex trafficking, regardless of the child’s race, age, socioeconomic status, or location, and every child involved in this form of commercial sexual exploitation is a victim."
The page does not describe children from other countries being trafficked in the U.S. It says the internet and mobile devices provide "a convenient worldwide marketing channel."
Justice Department attorneys work with law enforcement authorities around the U.S. to investigate and prosecute child sex trafficking cases, and help coordinate international investigations, the page says.
The Justice Department told PolitiFact it "continues to place a very high priority on, and devote substantial resources to, fighting child exploitation and child sex trafficking, both domestically and internationally. To suggest otherwise is simply false."
The department said that in connection with work on its "National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction" report, submitted to Congress in June, some webpages were revised.
Another section of the Justice Department site is devoted to the department’s news releases about human trafficking. On July 13, the day of Harris’ post, the section showed numerous news releases about indictments and sentencings for sex trafficking.
In April, the Justice Department announced its hiring of a national human trafficking coordinator and a national coordinator for child exploitation prevention and interdiction.
We found no evidence that the Justice Department removed international child sex trafficking from its "list of offenses that deserve a high degree of attention." We rate the claim False.
GhostArchive.org, Instagram post, July 13, 2023
Justice Department, "Human trafficking press room," accessed July 13, 2023
Justice Department, "Child sex trafficking," updated May 12, 2023
Justice Department, "National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction," June 2023
Email, Justice Department, July 15, 2023
Email, Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention and Research and social work professor, Arizona State University, July 13, 2023
Email, Donna De La Cruz, spokesperson, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, July 17, 2023
Wayback Machine, Justice Department "Child sex trafficking" page, accessed July 17, 2023
Email, David Harris Jr. team, July 14, 2023
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