San Diego is home to the busiest land border crossing in the world and we rely on an efficient border to maintain a strong binational economy vital to San Diego. A safe and secure border is necessary to protect San Diegans, to promote commerce, and to stop the flow of drugs and human trafficking.

Today, San Diego is the second largest source of human trafficking in the country, with more than 12,000 victims and survivors in the region. The average age of the victims is just 16 years old and this vile industry raked in more than $1 Billion dollars in San Diego County last year alone.

Drug cartels are also targeting our children through video gaming devices, and using them as drug “mules” to smuggle illegal drugs, including Fentanyl, into the U.S.

I’ve made border security and the fight against illegal drugs and human trafficking a priority and was invited by the White House to meet with the President, members of his cabinet, and other local officials facing similar challenges. These opportunities have helped me build relationships with top officials in the Federal Government, discover non-governmental organizations working tirelessly to save human trafficking victims in our region, and utilize new tools and enhanced inter-governmental coordination to combat these threats to our region.

Last year, I built a powerful relationship with Saved in America, a group of mostly former Navy Seals who volunteer hundreds of hours of time to rescue young people from the trafficking industry. In fewer than five years, Saved in America has rescued 179 children in San Diego County alone. In order to grow the capacity of this incredible organization, we leveraged our grant dollars for investments in much needed equipment; everything from night vision goggles and drones, to a mobile command center. This is a successful example of government serving as a catalyst alongside the non-profit community to produce results. Government alone cannot solve the most complex challenges facing our region.