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Congresswoman Clarke’s Statement on Human Trafficking

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke delivered the following statement on the floor of the House of Representatives today in support of H.R. 5081, The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the House’s legislative efforts to combat human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery.  I urge all of my colleges to support the legislation before us including H.R. 5081, The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act, a bill that seeks to improve the child welfare response to trafficking by requiring states to have procedures for identifying, assessing and documenting child victims of trafficking.  H.R. 5081 would also help identify, assess, and document child victims of sex trafficking throughout the United States.

“Unfortunately, human trafficking is a big, booming business.  I will not stand idly by and watch as our country becomes a center for smuggling and human trafficking. We have a major border crisis occurring in this country, enabled by highly organized crime groups.  If we understand the methods these groups use and begin by eliminating their sources of revenue we can begin to save people from future human rights abuses. Young girls are sold as sexual property.  Boys and men are forced to work for cheap labor after they are convinced to sign unfair labor contracts.  Their government documents are taken from them they are left with nothing.

“The people who want to do harm to our most vulnerable are likely to get to get more money for trafficking a child for sex than selling drugs.

“Awareness concerning human and sex trafficking has increased significantly in recent years, but awareness is not enough. The United States is now considered a destination country according to the U.S. Department of State. 

“Yes, Mr. Speaker, you heard correctly.  Human trafficking isn’t something that is occurring in other countries or other continents; it is happening here in America.  In the United States, human trafficking rakes in $9.8 billion for the use and abuse of victims, many of whom are children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that each year 100,000 children are falling victim to this industry within our own borders.

“I am proud to join my colleagues and the ever-growing number of Americans who are standing up to the objectionable practice of human trafficking.  Congress is taking the additional steps to protect our children with this legislation. 

“With an estimated 27 million persons in slavery around the world and hundreds of thousands within the United States, now is the time for action. We need to work with the international community and create a common understanding of human trafficking.

“Again, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5081 and all of the legislation concerning human and sex trafficking before the House. The time is now to protect children from being victims of human trafficking.

“I yield back the balance of my time.”

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.