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Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Bass) for her tireless commitment to the children of our Nation's child welfare system and for extending time to speak on this timely and important legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the House's legislative efforts to combat human trafficking, a very cruel form of modern-day slavery. I urge all my colleagues to support the legislation before us, including H.R. 5081, the Strengthening 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, and I cannot--and I will not--stand idly by and watch as our country becomes the center for smuggling human beings and human sexual exploitation.

We have a major crisis on the border of our Nation and in big cities like New York and others across the Nation that have been exacerbated and enabled by highly organized crime syndicates. If we understand the methods these groups use and begin by eliminating their sources of revenue, we can save people from human rights abuses and exploitation. Young girls are sold as sexual property, and 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, and they are left with no one and nothing.

The people who want to do harm to our most vulnerable are likely to get more money from trafficking a child for sex than from the illicit drug trade. Awareness concerning human trafficking has increased significantly in recent years, but awareness is not enough.

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Ms. CLARKE of New York. The United States is now considered a destination country according to the United States Department of State. Yes, Mr. Speaker, you heard it correctly. Human trafficking isn't something that is just occurring in other countries or other continents. It is happening right 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 the 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. Again, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5081 and all of the legislation concerning human trafficking before the House. The time is now to protect children from being victims of human trafficking.

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