|Walker Opening Statement at Field Hearing on Ending Human Trafficking|
WASHINGTON – Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Intelligence and Counterterrorism subcommittee ranking member, today delivered the following opening statement at a field hearing in Greensboro, North Carolina entitled, “Tackling Human Trafficking: Assessing Federal, State and Local Information Sharing Efforts”.
On behalf of my fellow North Carolinians, I would like to welcome Chairman Rose and the other members of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism to my home state. I would also like to thank the Chairman for agreeing to hold this important hearing on human trafficking, a despicable crime that continues to plague the nation.
In 2018, there were 10,949 human trafficking cases were reported through the national hotline. Trafficking occurs in every state across the country. The vast majority relate to sex trafficking and the victims are women and girls.
Sadly, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes within the US. Our major highway system, our agricultural economy, and a growing number of criminal gangs have increased the prevalence of human trafficking within North Carolina, with some cases reported in my district.
Last year, 287 cases of human trafficking were reported through the hotline in North Carolina, ranking the state tenth in the nation. This is a fraction of the cases reported in California, Texas, Florida and elsewhere, largely due to the efforts made by stakeholders across the state to coordinate efforts, develop training and partner with victim service providers.
While much more needs to be done to combat this activity, I am proud that today’s hearing can highlight the important work that is ongoing across North Carolina. Several State laws have been enacted, including the permanent creation of the Human Trafficking Commission, which is making annual recommendations to the State Legislature on additional authorities and is working with the State Bureau of Investigation to develop state-wide training programs and best practices for law enforcement.
I have made combatting human trafficking a priority in my time in office. I was proud to be the first freshman of the 114th class to pass a bill through the House. This bill, the Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015, works to train and inform DHS personnel to better detect and intercept human traffickers and their victims, specific to their professional roles, as well as making the training curricula available to all state, local, and private sector partners. I am interested in hearing from our witnesses today about how the implementation of this law has assisted in the cooperation with all levels of government in their efforts.
However, as legislators, we know there is so much more that needs to be done. We must continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to solve the complex problems related to human trafficking and ensure those on the front lines have the necessary tools they need. From talking with victims, advocacy groups, law enforcement, and government agencies across the State, there is no doubt that there is a need and desire for more coordination, training, public awareness and victim services.
I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panel and learning about how Congress can assist their ongoing efforts to combat this international affliction. The problem is bigger than any one jurisdiction’s resources.
Again, I want to thank Chairman Rose and Ms. Jackson-Lee for joining me for this important hearing. I also want to express my sincere appreciation for the witnesses, both for appearing here today and for the work you do every day. I yield back the balance of my time.