Child Trafficking Along Our Border Must End Now

March 24, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor about the growing crisis along the southern border and implored her colleagues to advance her bill, the End Child Trafficking Now Act, legislation to require DNA testing at the border to deter fraud and child trafficking, from committee to the full Senate immediately.

To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.

You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.


MRS. BLACKBURN: Madam President, last month alone, more than 100,000

migrants crossed our southern border. Our ports of entry are overrun;

holding facilities are packed; and, yes, our Border Patrol agents are

absolutely exhausted. They are exhausted. This isn't just a logistical

challenge; it is a tragedy made worse by the Biden administration's

disastrous open borders policies.

 The crisis is escalating, especially for the tens of thousands of

children who have arrived in this country very much alone.

Unaccompanied minors accounted for nearly 10 percent of all migrants

who crossed our border last month. That is roughly 10,000 children a

month walking into chaos.

  Anyone paying a bit of attention knows what is going on here. Customs

and Border Protection has been sounding the alarm on the connection

between children and human trafficking for years. The coyotes, the

cartels, and the gangs use children as drug mules. They use them as sex

slaves. If you don't believe me, ask anyone with the CBP why they

administer pregnancy tests to little girls as young as 13 as soon as

they arrive at the border.

 This is a heartbreaking situation. These children are living in hell,

and it is getting worse. False claims of family ties have fueled a rise

in fraudulent asylum claims and in human trafficking. Adult migrants

are making arrangements with cartels and smugglers to borrow children.

They claim kinship and use that relationship to bolster a fraudulent

asylum claim. And what do they do when they have gotten what they want?

They send the child back across the border to start the entire

nightmarish process with another stranger. That is correct. This is

called child recycling, but I think ``recycling'' is an odd choice of

words to describe one human being treating another human being like a

piece of garbage. Again, this is heartbreaking.

If you want to get an idea of how big a problem we have, consider

that the Department of Homeland Security says that, over the past

decade, they have seen a 1,675-percent increase in asylum cases.

 In 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement implemented a pilot DNA

testing program to try to stop this rampant exploitation. They found

that 20 percent of all kinship claims they were able to screen were

lies--20 percent.

This is a humanitarian crisis, an environmental crisis, and a health

and safety crisis. The Biden administration has lost control of this

situation, but there are things we can do right now to protect these

children and put the smugglers in check.

This week, I introduced the End Child Trafficking Now Act, which

would require our border agents to administer DNA tests to adult

migrants claiming kinship with a minor without migrants' having the

legal documentation to prove it.

If the adult refuses, they will be immediately deported. Furthermore,

the bill mandates a 10-year penalty for all alien adults who lie about

their relationship with a minor.

The test is simple. It takes about 90 minutes. Ninety minutes could

mean the difference between that child finding safety in the United

States and that child being dragged back to a cartel.

We are on pace to see 17,000 more unaccompanied minors arrive this

month. ICE proved this testing strategy can help protect them. There is

no valid, fact-based reason not to do it.

Madam President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous

consent that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further

consideration of S. 903 and the Senate proceed to its immediate

consideration. Further, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be

considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to

reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: Is there an objection? The Senator from California.

Mr. PADILLA: Reserving the right to object, Madam President, I share

my colleague's desire to prevent child trafficking. Trust me, as a

parent, I know it is a laudable goal. But as drafted--as drafted--this

bill would create enormous and instant chaos at airports around the

country and every other port of entry.

As written, it would require every foreign family who seeks admission

to the United States, even just for a family vacation, to have a third

party witness a test to their affiliation or else submit to a DNA test.

I can't imagine any of our airports have the resources to implement

this. It would simply lead to the same chaos we saw after the

implementation of President Trump's Muslim ban, or worse, it would

overwhelm our law enforcement officials and create bottlenecks at

customs for citizens and noncitizens alike, not to mention the many

legal and ethical questions as it pertains to genetic privacy and the

storage of that information.

I would be more than happy to sit down with my colleague from

Tennessee in the context of a larger discussion about immigration

reform to see how we can ensure that we include provisions to prevent

child trafficking, but I don't think this bill as drafted will actually

accomplish that goal, and so I object.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: The objection is heard. The Senator from Tennessee.

MRS. BLACKBURN: Madam President, I think my colleague understands

that this bill would apply to individuals, to adults who cannot show

kinship and do not have legal documentation.

We know that human trafficking, sex trafficking, and child

trafficking have become a major industry. We know that child recycling

is a practice that is used by the cartels. We know that they are using

this to move adults into the country; thereby, this is something that

would put the cartels in check and show that we are not going to stand

for them recycling children, claiming kinship to children who are not

theirs, and trying to move drug smugglers and cartel members into this