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Ted P.
Republican TX 2

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  • Combating Human Trafficking

    by Representative Ted Poe

    Posted on 2015-01-26

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    POE of Texas. I thank the gentlewoman from Missouri for yielding to me.

    Mr. Speaker, it is worth noting that this effort to combat human trafficking in the United States, in my opinion, is led by the ladies of the House on both sides, the Republicans and the Democrats. The spunk of my friend from Missouri and all of the others who have spoken and will speak later on these pieces of legislation is obvious.

    {time} 1745 There are 12 bills, Mr. Speaker. They are bipartisan bills on one subject. As long as I have been here, I have never seen so much attention by all Members of the House on both sides of the aisle moving and trying to fix a problem as this.

    Twelve pieces of legislation--many of those passed last year, they just never got voted on in the Senate--and we are bringing them up again. Once again, it is the ladies to whom America owes a great gratitude to. My grandmother used to say that there is nothing more powerful than a woman who has made up her mind. The ladies of the House have made up their mind on the issue of trafficking. They are not going to tolerate it, and neither are the rest of us.

    Mr. Speaker, it is ironic to me that this tremendous amount of legislation--this important subject--is getting so little play in the national media. It seems that the media and America, I guess, is more concerned about the disappearance of air in footballs than they are about the disappearance of America's children that are being trafficked across the United States.

    The worst thing that is taking place among our youth is the slavery that is happening to them. The runaways, the throwaways, and the stowaways of America's children are disappearing into this scourge of slavery, as it has been rightfully called.

    Many of us remember how we got involved in trying to prevent this. My first experience was meeting a little girl in Peru at the age of 7 whose name is Lilly. Lilly could not speak because of the numerous assaults that had been committed against her before she was rescued. It is not just kids in South America or Central America or overseas; it is America's children that are being trafficked.

    We have to make it clear that these young girls, primarily, that are on the streets and that are being sold and bartered by these slave masters are not criminals. These are not prostitutes. These are victims of crimes. America needs to change its focus and its understanding that when we see that occurring, that person is a victim, not a criminal.

    As has been mentioned, Mr. Speaker, this is one of the leading ways that criminal organizations are making money because, in the drug trade, you get drugs and you sell them one time; plus the risk of apprehension is greater for drug sales than with the selling of kids. Children can be sold multiples times a night, and they are.

    When the trafficker is captured, very often, nothing happens, so that is why this lucrative trade continues to make money, but it also continues to make money because there is a demand in this country for this scourge.

    These men, primarily, that abuse children are criminals. They are sex offenders. They are child molesters. Some call them johns. They are not johns. John was a good guy. He is in the Bible. Why would we call them that? They are child molesters, and we need to recognize them for what they are. We need to know who they are. Their names need to be published, and they need to go to jail for what they do because we have to go after the demand.

    That is why I have introduced the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act along with my friend Carolyn Maloney from New York. Carolyn Maloney--a New York Democrat and a Texas conservative Republican, that is just about as bipartisan as you can get, Mr. Speaker. We are separated by a common language, to coin the phrase; but on this issue, like most Members of the House, we are united that we are going to stop this.

    This bill does a few things. It goes after the trafficker, the slave master. It helps law enforcement capture them and put them in jail. That is why we build prisons. Then it goes after the victim--the child--rescues them, restores them, and finds a place for them.

    Did you know, Mr. Speaker, that in the United States, according to the Humane Society, there are about 3,000 animal shelters? We need them all. I have got three Dalmatians. I got one of them from a shelter in Dallas. I call him the weapon of mass destruction. We need those shelters.

    But did you know that, according to Shared Hope International, there are only about 300 beds for minor sex-trafficked victims in the United States? That ought not to be. They need more places to go when the police rescue them.

    God bless the police. Many times, when they find these children, they know they are sex-trafficked victims, but there is no place to put them, so they put them in the juvenile justice system. That is not a good idea, but that is the only place they are safe. We need to find residences and homes for them. That is what this bill does.

    The third thing it does is it goes after the demand, the person in the middle, the customer that abuses children, the rapist. We are going after those guys, Mr. Speaker. The days of ``boys being boys'' is over. Those people are going to be arrested and prosecuted for the crimes that they have committed.

    Mr. Speaker, I insert into the Record some of the numerous anti- trafficking organizations that have helped all of us in this legislation.

    Anti-trafficking, Child Welfare, and Law Enforcement Organizations Children at Risk (Houston), Rights for Girls, Shared Hope International, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking--USA, National Children's Alliance, National Association to Protect Children, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Equality Now, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Fraternal of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Criminal Justice Association, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

    Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I call these groups the victims' posse that helps us in this issue.

    The last thing I want to mention, Mr. Speaker, is I used to prosecute criminals. I was a judge in criminal court for 22 years. Sexual assault is what it is called now, but the crime really is rape. It is rape of America's greatest resource: children.

    We cannot tolerate this. We ask sometimes: Why are we even here? Well, I can tell you why we are here. We are here to make sure that all Americans, including American children and those immigrants that have been sold into the United States, are protected from crimes like rape.

    Mr. Speaker, children are not for sale. I am glad to see that the House is making sure that they will not be for sale in the future. I thank the gentlelady for the time.

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