Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: Sept. 30, 2004
Location: Washington DC

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
SENATE
Sept. 30, 2004

STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

By Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina (for himself and Mr. CORNYN):

S. 2871. A bill to provide for enhanced criminal penalties for crimes related to slavery and alien smuggling; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, as we all know, people from all over the world want to come to America to pursue a better life for themselves and their families.

Unfortunately, however, some people entrust their lives to some very dangerous people in their effort to gain our shores. And, tragically, some people are brought here against their will and kept as human chattel, enslaved in horrible conditions, in the midst of our freedom.

After hearing of the horrible deaths of aliens smuggled into the country and inhumanely abandoned along a Texas highway last year, I wanted to examine whether we are doing all we can to combat these horrible crimes.

In talking with various law enforcement officials and victims, I heard of alien smugglers and traffickers who, through unabashed acts of profiteering, endanger the lives of countless aliens while compromising the integrity of our immigration laws at the same time. Make no mistake, the incentives for human smugglers are enormous. According to the Department of State, human smuggling around the globe generates an estimated $9.5 billion a year.

The commodities involved in this illicit trade are men, women, and children who, for the smuggler, represent substantial profits. The State Department estimates that more than a million women and children are trafficked around the world each year, generally for the purpose of domestic servitude, sweatshop labor, or sexual exploitation. At any given time, the Department estimates that thousands of people are in the smuggling pipeline, with the United States being the primary target. Smugglers deliver some 50,000 aliens here each year. Alien smuggling is a global problem which requires a systematic and coordinated response. We should do all we can within our criminal laws to combat this terrible problem.

Given the risks associated with these crimes every time they are carried out, the punishment should be appropriate to deter future smuggling or trafficking, and to sufficiently sanction those who are caught. Currently, Title 8 smuggling provisions provide that a person found guilty of alien smuggling where death results is subject to the full range of punishments, including the death penalty. However, if death results from a Title 18 trafficking offense, where the victims are arguably more vulnerable, the defendant is not subjected to the death penalty.

In my opinion, an important component of criminal justice prosecutions is to serve as a deterrent to others who may be disposed to commit a crime. We should ensure that the punishments for smuggling and trafficking crimes are such that the risks of apprehension, prosecution and punishment far outweigh the payday at their delivery point. And, we need to be diligent in making certain that notice of these penalties is conveyed to those who are engaged in this enterprise, up and down the smuggling and trafficking organizational chain. Obviously, in my opinion, the best way to do that is the vigorous prosecution and harsh punishment of those we do catch.

I also want to say a word about the goal of this legislation. Clearly, the smuggling and trafficking problem impacts a host of immigration issues. While we are engaged in the nationwide debate surrounding immigration, we must also ensure that the crimes related to smuggling and trafficking are punished appropriately. We should not wait for the conclusion of debate on the overall issue.

Whatever your feelings are regarding immigration policy, I think everyone can agree that we must not allow otherwise innocent men, women, and children to be abused and killed by those who seek to profit from the desperation of others.