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
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