WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and the entire Senate Republican Conference urged Democratic committee chairmen to increase oversight and investigations into human trafficking.
The letter highlighted recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data underscoring the humanitarian crisis at the border. It also included a graph illustrating the rise in encounters at the southwest border.
“[G]iven your committees’ roles in overseeing DHS, we urge you to investigate and hold hearings into DHS’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Without our attention and leadership, human trafficking will continue to plague this country,” wrote the senators.
“The recent movie, Sound of Freedom (which is based on the true story of former Homeland Security Investigations agent Tim Ballard’s efforts to rescue victims from a Colombian sex-trafficking ring), “has played an important role in creating public awareness of this modern-day form of slavery,” continued the senators.
“The United States Senate must continue to conduct much-needed oversight of this administration’s border policies to find immediate solutions to combat one of the most disturbing consequences of inadequate border security: the proliferation of human trafficking,” concluded the senators.
Cassidy and Johnson were joined by U.S. Senators John Barrasso, M.D. (R-WY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Katie Boyd Britt (R-AR), Ted Budd (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul, M.D. (R-KY), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), James Risch (R-ID), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Rick Scott (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Todd Young (R-IN) in signing the letter.
Read more about the GOP senators’ July 27, 2023 letter to the Democrat chairmen in FOX News.
Read the full letter here or below:
Dear Chairmen Peters, Blumenthal, Durbin, and Menendez:
We face an unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our border. According to the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), since the start of the Biden Administration, over 5.6 million have been encountered illegally crossing the southwest border. 1 In addition, there have been approximately 1.5 million known and unknown “got aways.”2 The Biden Administration’s open border policy is facilitating the multi-billion dollar business model of some of the most evil people on the planet – drug, human, and sex traffickers.
In fiscal year 2022, Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) reported over 2.3 million encounters at the southwest border, including 152,057 encounters of unaccompanied and single minors.-3 In the first nine months of fiscal year 2023, CBP has reported over 1. 7 million encounters at the southwest border, including over 98,000 encounters of unaccompanied and single minors.4 The New York Times reported that under this administration; HHS lost contact with more than 85,000 children who originally entered the country unaccompanied.5 These statistics and the enclosed graph paint a dire picture of the crisis at our southwest border that cannot be ignored.
The United States Senate must continue to conduct much-needed oversight of this administration’s border policies to find immediate solutions to combat one of the most disturbing consequences of inadequate border security: the proliferation of human trafficking. The Rand Corporation estimated 14,500 – 17,500 human trafficking victims enter the country each year.6 In fiscal year 2022 alone, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), the investigative arm of the DHS, opened more than 1,300 investigations into cases related to sex trafficking and forced labor.7 In addition, human trafficking-related arrests increased by more than 50%, and convictions by more than 80%, compared to fiscal year 2021. 8
Under Republican leadership in the Senate, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations led a years-long investigation into online sex trafficking occurring on
Backpage.com, which the National Association of Attorneys General described as a “hub” of human trafficking. 9 In addition, as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Johnson held more than 30 hearings and roundtables on border security, including human trafficking. At many of these proceedings, law enforcement officials and other witnesses detailed the countless horrors experienced by those trafficked across our border.
The devastating problems relating to human trafficking and border security remain relevant and require immediate action. The movie, Sound of Freedom (which is based on the true story of former HSI agent Tim Ballard’s efforts to rescue victims from a Colombian sextrafficking ring), has played an important role in creating public awareness of this modern-day form of slavery. Given your committees’ roles in overseeing DHS, we urge you to investigate and hold hearings into DHS’ s efforts to combat human trafficking. Without our attention and leadership, human trafficking will continue to plague this country.