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Ann W.
Republican MO 2

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  • Combating Human Trafficking

    by Representative Ann Wagner

    Posted on 2015-01-26

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    WAGNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous materials on the subject of my Special Order.



    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Missouri? There was no objection.

    Mrs. WAGNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of packages of human trafficking legislation to be considered by the House of Representatives this week, 12 different pieces of legislation. I also rise today in support of all the good work done by my colleagues here in Congress on the issue of human trafficking.

    Mr. Speaker, as a former United States Ambassador, I was exposed firsthand to the horrors of human trafficking on an international level. I witnessed and reported on devastating consequences of human trafficking, where innocent women and children were dragged into the dark abyss of sex slavery. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think human trafficking was so rampant right here in the United States of America. Americans are being forced into sexual slavery by ruthless human traffickers.

    Mr. Speaker, right now there are young women being forced into prostitution in virtually every district across this Nation. It is hiding in plain sight. In fact, I was shocked to learn that my own hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, has been identified as one of the top 20 areas for sex trafficking in the United States.

    Mr. Speaker, this problem is before our eyes. It is in our communities, it is in our neighborhoods, and it is in our cul-de-sacs. It is right here before us. Every year, thousands of young Americans' lives are impacted by this despicable crime. However, there is hope.

    I take hope from the work done by the law enforcement professionals who are on the front lines every day protecting our Nation's children from those who would seek to exploit them. I take hope from those who work in victims services and their tireless efforts to help survivors recover, heal, and forge new lives out of the horrors of sexual enslavement. Most importantly, Mr. Speaker, I take hope from all the survivors, the survivors of this hideous crime. Their strength gives us strength, their resolve gives us inspiration, and their steadfast commitment to ending sex trafficking gives us all the courage to fight.

    {time} 1730 Mr. Speaker, because of the efforts of many individuals and groups, I am happy to report that Congress has taken notice of this serious problem. Years of work by Representatives Noem, Poe, Paulsen, Hultgren, Reichert, Smith, among many others, have raised awareness of this issue and have laid the foundation for the long overdue action Congress is presently taking. I am grateful that many of my colleagues have held events in their home districts to raise awareness and education of this crime.

    Last year in St. Louis, I participated, along with Judge Poe, in a conference at which the private and public sectors came together to share best practices about combating human trafficking. Representatives Davis, Hudson, Walberg, Roskam, Coffman, Huizenga, and Heck, among so many other Members of my colleagues, have all held human trafficking events in their districts to raise awareness and offer solutions to end sexual assault and human trafficking. I applaud these efforts, and I look forward to continuing this work for years to come.

    However, Mr. Speaker, there is much, much work to be done. As legislators, we have an obligation to come together and do something because we can, because we should, and because we must.

    The legislation that we are voting on this week in the House of Representatives will provide prosecutors with the tools they need to prosecute traffickers and will provide social service providers with the resources they need to assist victims in healing. These bills will mandate much-needed awareness and training, and will provide government agencies with the accurate, dependable statistics they need to combat this terrible crime.

    I am so proud of the action this body has taken to recognize and address this problem, which has so long festered in the shadows.

    I am equally proud of all my colleagues today who have come to the floor to speak up for the victims of human trafficking, to show them they are not alone, that we are with them, and that we will no longer be silent in the face of such depravity.

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield to one of my colleagues, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hultgren). He is reintroducing his bill, the Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act. The bill urges nations to recognize the link between the purchase of commercial sex and the prevalence of human trafficking in society, and to confront the former in order to effectively combat the latter. The bill targets demand.

    He has hosted anti-trafficking forums for Members of Congress at which the anti-trafficking documentary ``Nefarious'' was shown. The producers of the film from Exodus Cry attended.

    He is a member of the House leadership Human Trafficking Task Force and the Human Trafficking Caucus, and he has worked with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on efforts to help human trafficking victims both in the U.S. and abroad.

    Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Illinois, Randy Hultgren.

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