Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The stories are heartbreaking. Maria Elena was only 13 years old when a family friend told her she could make 10 times as much money waiting tables in the United States than she could in her village in Mexico. The proposition sounded too good to pass up, so she went for it.
She and several other girls were driven across the border, and then continued the rest of the way on foot. They traveled four days and nights through the desert, making their way into Texas, then crossing east toward Florida. Finally, Maria Elena and the other girls arrived at their destination, a rundown trailer where they were forced into prostitution. Maria Elena was gang-raped and locked in the trailer until she agreed to do what she was told. She lived under 24-hour watch and was forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day. When she got pregnant, she was forced to have an abortion and sent back to work the next day. Maria Elena finally made her escape only to be arrested along with her traffickers.
From 1998 to 2011, members of the Granados-Hernandez sex trafficking group smuggled young women from Mexico illegally into the United States and forced them into the commercial sex trade in New York, collecting all their profits.
When the victims arrived in New York, they learned – most for the first time – that the Granados-Hernandez’s organization intended to sexually exploit them for money. When they refused or resisted, the women were beaten, sexually assaulted and told that their families would be harmed.
The victims of sex trafficking aren’t just from Mexico.
At a Halloween party in Oxon Hill, Md., … the trafficker met a 12-year-old runaway who asked for his help in finding a place to stay. Instead, the trafficker – a long-time member of the notorious MS-13 gang [from Central America] – forced the young girl into the commercial sex trade the very next day. For more than 3 months, he held her captive, coercing her to have sex for money multiple times a day at a variety of businesses, homes, apartments and hotels in Northern Virginia.
In 2010, 29 people were indicted in a sex trafficking ring in which Somali Muslim gangs in Minneapolis allegedly forced girls under age 14 into prostitution in Minnesota, Tennessee, Ohio, and other places. Unfortunately, every defendant who has gone to trial has either been acquitted or had their conviction thrown out. The government’s case has been weakened because a key witness, a Somali refugee and former gang member, has refused to testify, saying he is afraid for himself and his family.
Concerns about sex trafficking are growing in the United States, especially in light of the rise of Muslim gang rape and sex trafficking in Sweden and the rest of Europe. As politicians debate immigration reform, the need to secure our borders is a vital one for many reasons—including sex trafficking.
As Olivia Snow wrote at the Heritage Foundation blog in 2011, “Annually, 27 million people are trafficked, and they are in need of help. Strategies that recognize the root of the problem—a crime-ridden border—will help to provide a solution. Amnesty is not the answer.”
Victims of human trafficking are trapped in a cycle of abuse, and those who attempt to escape are often met with death. Maria told the story of a friend who tried to escape—she recalls the gang members pouring gasoline over her friend, lighting her on fire, and continuing to beat the young girl even as she burned to death.
Justice must be served. And those like Maria and the 27 million others who are in bondage to modern slavery must be set free.
Washington and the Obama Administration cannot turn a blind eye to the daily tragedy of millions.
Neither can conservatives. We’re often accused of not caring about immigrants and minorities—or women—but that is far from the truth. We believe in the dignity of the individual; all individuals. We believe in freedom. Pushing back against sex trafficking, against the modern slave trade both at home and abroad, is one issue we can all rally around.
Conservatives want stronger borders because we care about women and children; we don’t want any more girls like Maria to suffer at the hands of predators. We don’t want our children, our beautiful daughters, taken from us and sold as sex slaves to feed the lusts and fill the pockets of evil men. Whether it’s at the border involving immigrants or domestic trafficking, we can step up and do something about it—and a good place to start is securing the border.
If you’re interested in learning more about human trafficking, the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization for combating all forms of human trafficking, is a great resource. The Department of Health and Human services has also provided a memo on identifying and interacting with victims of sex trafficking.