Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

    • Mr. Speaker, in my other life, I was a prosecutor and Judge. I saw the worst of the worst criminals in my courtroom, but it wasn't until I visited the Ukraine, when I first came to Congress, that I learned about the scourge of human trafficking . It is slavery . Soon I became aware that this crime wasn't just happening in far off places but right here in the United States, in our own backyards.
    • Unfortunately, my hometown of Houston is one of the hubs for human trafficking because of its proximity to the border, major interstates, airports, and ports.
    • As cofounder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus with my friend JIM COSTA from California, I have made fighting human trafficking a priority.
    • Human trafficking is a hidden crime. These victims are not willing participants in prostitution. These women, men, girls, and boys are being held against their will, caught in a life of drug addiction, physical abuse, and sexual assault. Children cannot be prostitutes. Children cannot consent to sex. They get forced into the crime of human trafficking, they are victims not criminals.
    • It is estimated that at least 100,000 children are at risk for human trafficking every year in the U.S. The real number of trafficking victims is unknown.
    • Even if they are identified, they are constantly moved around by their traffickers, whether that's across our borders and/or around the country. Many are runaways, throwaways, or stowaways. Imagine a child being considered a throwaway or a child that no one is looking for. This is reality for many in our country. We must be the ones to give them hope.
    • Victims may be afraid to come forward. They may be arrest and jailed because they are mistaken for criminal. Forgiven immigrants kidnapped and brought to the US are told their families will be harmed if they seek help.
    • Many victims may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and actually believe they are in a loving relationship with their trafficker.
    • Education and awareness for law enforcement and the public will help prevent trafficking and identify the victim.
    • Rescuing and Restoring victims must be a top priority. Trafficking victims have unique needs, different than the needs of other crime victims. They must receive specialized, trauma-informed care from those that understand this crime.
    • Trafficking victims are not easy victims to help. They've been through extremely terrible situations. Many have come from a life of hardship, from abusive families, and moved around from family to family in foster care. Anyone they've trusted in the past has used them and betrayed them. So, many times after they've been rescued, they run because that's what they know.
    • We cannot give up on these girls. They deserve to know love and trust. As a society, we must embrace them.
    • I've introduced the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act with Congresswoman Maloney. This bill will ensure funding for the rescue and restoration of trafficking victims. It will ensure specialized training and care, and training for law enforcement. These services will be paid for by fines on the perpetrators. The bad guys literally pay for the crimes they have committed. What a concept!
    • Our bill also addresses the cause of this dastardly deed: the demand. Gone are the days of boys being boys. Those that buy sex from children are child abusers, not Johns. John is in the Bible. He's a good guy. These criminals must be punished like the child abusers that they are. They are child rapists.
    • During January, National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we recognize that we have a long road ahead of us in order to eradicate our country and our world of modern day slavery . If we have the help and work of local, state, and federal governments, wonderful anti-trafficking organizations, and just people with good hearts, I think we can put a stop to this despicable crime.
    • And that's just the way it is.