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Mark M.
Republican NC 11

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  • Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2014

    by Representative Mark Meadows

    Posted on 2014-07-23

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    MEADOWS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentlewoman from Indiana for her leadership on this particular issue and for her time and her eloquent remarks in introducing this particular piece of legislation.

    I would also like to thank the gentlewoman from California who is leading from the other side of the aisle. Much is made of headlines where the dysfunction of Washington, D.C., is in every newspaper on how things do not work, and yet a few hundred feet away from me is a gentlewoman from California representing a constituency many, many miles away from my home State of North Carolina. So today we are not only reaching across the aisle, but we are reaching across the country from California to North Carolina, because human trafficking affects us all.

    I was first made aware of this by my daughter who was 15 years old when she did a report on human trafficking. I thought it was one of those things that was not a big deal until she informed me that it was in our backyard. It was in our neighborhoods. It was in our communities. Right now, some estimated 23 million people are trafficked, are caught up in human trafficking. And to give you a perspective of that, that equals a number that is very close to another slavery that we know as a horrific blight on our Nation and our world-- the African slave trade. Today we have more people caught up in modern- day slavery than at the height of that particular time, yet somehow we continue to not address it. So hopefully on our watch, Mr. Speaker, we will address that.

    Mr. Speaker, I want to provide a little bit of the context of this particular bill. The genesis of it came from a hearing. Many times we have hearings over and over, Mr. Speaker. Some people say, well, why do you continue to have those hearings? We had some Delta Airline flight attendants who came in to a hearing. They were talking about the effort that they went through, on a voluntary basis, to set up a program to train their flight attendants and, ultimately, now all of their customer service representatives who see people on a day-by-day basis, they trained them to recognize those that are being trafficked. Yet they did this on their own. So from that, we felt like it would be a good idea to not only partner with them, but to provide that same type of training for the Federal workers that get to see these people at our borders, in our airports, and places across our Nation.

    I want to thank Chairman McCaul, Chairman Hudson, Mr. O'Rourke, and the entire Homeland Security Committee staff for their hard work on working on this bill to make it not only one that hopefully will be a useful tool, but also one that will make a difference. It is estimated that there is no additional cost for providing this training, and yet the benefits will be great.

    Tens of thousands of people are trafficked through the United States every year, 80 percent of whom are exploited sexually, two-thirds of them women, but more accurately, most of them little girls.

    We must stand together in a bipartisan way, and I thank my colleague across the aisle for working with us and her leadership on this. But if we are successful--well, the word should not be ``if.'' When we are successful, Mr. Speaker, we will have saved thousands of lives, and we will have changed thousands of lives. So it is with great humility that I ask my colleagues to come together and support this piece of legislation.

    Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, I have no more [[Page H6729]] speakers. If the gentlewoman from Indiana has no more speakers, then I am prepared to close.

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to applaud Representative Meadows for introducing what I think is a very important piece of legislation in a bipartisan manner, and I am thankful that he cares enough and that he has a daughter who wrote a report.

    These people who are trafficked live amongst us. In particular, they live in areas where there is lots of diversity, where there are lots of people going about doing their business, in crowded areas a lot. Trafficked, you are right, they are exploited for sexual purposes, about 70 percent of them; but the other 30 percent are used in homes in domestic servitude not even getting, sometimes, to sleep in a bed of the very house where they are worked as a slave, sleeping on the floor and getting the crumbs off the table. We have seen that. We have seen that in Orange County, California, in one of the richest areas of the Nation. In one of the nicest homes this was happening with a little Egyptian girl who was there who had been trafficked in by a family.

    If it is not domestic and it is not sexual, then it is sweatshops where people literally have their passports and their papers taken away and they are working 18 or 19 hours a day, not being paid and barely being fed. So they are all around us.

    Americans have to open up their eyes. We have to see it in our neighborhoods, and, of course, we have to stop them as they bring them from other countries. That is why I believe that our Nation's screeners and our Customs officers serve as the eyes and the ears on the front line of our ports of entry and exit from the United States. If they are properly trained, then they will see it, and they can help stop it.

    Lastly, I am very grateful that tonight we have had a series of bills with respect to human trafficking. I just want to remind my colleagues that this humanitarian crisis we see on our southern border, that many of those children also have faced what we are talking about tonight; and, in order to stop it, we have to be as generous as possible with those young people to restart their lives.

    With that, Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to say ``yes'' to this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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