U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, issued the following statement today on the release of the State Department's 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Human trafficking is one of today's worst and most alarming tragedies, as it deprives millions around the world of their most basic dignity as human beings. While I'm relieved that major human trafficking violators such as Russia and China have finally been lowered to the Tier 3 List, many countries under oppressive regimes such as Vietnam, Venezuela, and Cambodia were not downgraded, despite their human trafficking violations. I'm not surprised that Cuba again received the worst designation, Tier 3, on the TIP Report. The Castro regime continues to brutally oppress its own people, and as a result, many girls and women are still victims of sex trafficking. Cuba has become one of the world's hot spots for sexual predators looking for little girls and boys and are doing this horrid act while Cuba is peddled on websites as a sex destination.
"Unfortunately, 16 percent of countries have never recorded a single conviction for human trafficking leaving millions of people under this modern-day slavery. While we tend to look at the issue of human trafficking as an international problem, we need to take a closer look on what is going on here at home. Between 17,000 to 20,000 victims are trafficked into our country every year, with a large number being migrant workers from Mexico and Central America. Unaccompanied alien children have also become an easy target for smuggler. This is why I have joined my colleague Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard in legislation that will ensure that the children who have been victims of trafficking are treated humanely and screened by social workers with child welfare expertise. As a longtime advocate for human rights, I look forward to continuing to work with like-minded colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as with the community so we can be a voice for those with no voice."