Save girls from human trafficking
Published 10:45 am Friday, April 14, 2023
The Biden administration has called its immigration policy “fair, orderly, and humane.” I beg to differ. So would the people who are being trafficked every day at our southern border by Mexico’s vicious and evil cartels. Biden’s open border policies have not only encouraged human trafficking; they’ve made it into a booming business for these criminal organizations. Among the cartels, Biden’s approval rating is soaring.
Human trafficking is a problem throughout the United States, but Biden’s destructive immigration policies have exacerbated the problem specifically at our southern border. President Biden’s open border policies are making it profitable to smuggle women and children across the border and sell them into forced labor or the sex trade. Human smuggling is thriving under the Biden administration and has expanded from a $500 million industry in 2018 to an over $13 billion industry. So who is to blame? Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is the most obvious culprit, but we have proof that the problem is spread across multiple agencies, under multiple secretaries. We just heard from Secretary Becerra during his testimony before the Senate Finance Committee that the Biden administration is unaware of the fact that HHS lost track of over 85,000 unaccompanied migrant children who were released into the United States. This is reprehensible. How does he still have a job?
The State Department believes that anywhere between 14,500 and 17,500 people are victims of human trafficking within the U.S. every year, 72 percent of whom are immigrants. Human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry in the U.S. Trafficking victims are used against their will for a variety of reasons, among them: forced labor, sexual exploitation, crime, and marriage. In fiscal year 2022, arrests for human trafficking increased by 50 percent, and convictions skyrocketed by 80 percent. Girls and women are at particular risk of human trafficking for sex and prostitution. Females account for 94 percent of victims of sex trafficking, and two out of every three child trafficking victims worldwide are girls. Thirteen years old is the average age at which a child is sold for sex. That is absolutely horrifying.
In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 10,360 unique incidents of human trafficking. The hotline also received 51,073 substantive phone calls, texts, Webchats, emails, or online tips reported across the nation. The actual number of human trafficking victims is likely far greater than has been reported. This problem will continue to escalate as long as our southern border remains wide open and law enforcement officials lack the resources they need to find and prosecute the vile people who engage in trafficking.
Human trafficking preys upon the vulnerable, especially women and children, and Biden’s southern border disaster has made that area ripe for more victims. This is why I am introducing the bipartisan Stopping the Abuse, Victimization, and Exploitation of Girls (“SAVE Girls”) Act which will provide states, local governments, and nonprofits with the tools necessary to crack down on human trafficking. My bipartisan bill allocates $50 million toward a grant program for states, localities, and NGOs that are working to end the smuggling and trafficking of girls. My bill underscores the fact that the grant program will focus on preventative measures to guard against the smuggling of girls across the border and to protect girls who have been smuggled already from being trafficked in the U.S.
Biden has put the lives of girls in jeopardy by pursuing his radical immigration agenda. I am determined to stem the flow of human trafficking and protect our nation’s most vulnerable from this modern form of slavery.
(Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.)