Mr. Speaker, modern day slavery is happening all around us, and it occurs in the form of human trafficking. Victims are sold into sex slavery, drugged, beaten, threatened and forced to engage in horrifying acts at the demand of their captors. While many Americans are aware that human trafficking occurs, most think it exists primarily in faraway countries.
This assumption however, is wildly mistaken. Many of us do not realize that in this nation, and in our very own backyards, individuals are held against their will, their bodies sold repeatedly day in and day out. In every state, city and suburb traffickers prey upon the most vulnerable and chain them to a life of unimaginable misery.
As Americans, we cannot turn a blind eye to this fact any more. Human trafficking victims are constantly moved around by their traffickers, whether that’s across our borders or around the country. This movement helps them evade law enforcement and increase profits by shuffling victims from buyer to buyer. With traffickers constantly on the road, who could possibly find and rescue these victims? Kylla Lanier asked herself that exact question several years ago when she set out to battle the scourge of human trafficking. It seemed insurmountable. Trafficking was everywhere, but then again she thought, so were truckers.
Kylla, her mother and three sisters went on to pioneer the anti-trafficking group, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). At 3.5 million strong, American truckers are an ideal ally in the war against trafficking. They have eyes and ears everywhere, from 12-lane freeways to dark back alleyways. The idea is simple.
TAT trains truckers to spot potential trafficking operations or victims and report to a 24-hour hotline. These tips have already freed hundreds of trafficking victims, and as TAT continues to educate more truckers, we expect that number to rise. Due to the simplicity and success of this strategy, many trucking schools now teach trafficking prevention as part of their core curriculum.
I whole-heartedly applaud the efforts of Kylla and her family, as well as those of all the truckers who have joined this fight against trafficking. We should all learn from this success story, but truckers cannot do this alone. We have a long road ahead of us in order to eradicate our country of modern day slavery. We must continue to raise awareness across all fields and in all parts of our society. The only way to defeat the evil of human trafficking is by banding together and working as one.
And that’s just the way it is.