WASHINGTON – The first action needed to stop human trafficking in the U.S. is to secure the border, Speaker Kevin McCarthy told Fox News in an exclusive interview.
"The first thing you really want to do is secure the border because right now many children are being trafficked into America because they believe the border to be open," McCarthy told Fox News at a movie event held last Tuesday. There were over 10,300 human trafficking incidents reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2021.
The screening, held for members of Congress, featured "Sound of Freedom," a film depicting the horrors of human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. The low-budget movie's lead actor Jim Caviezel, and Tim Ballard, on whom the film is based, were in attendance.
ADDRESSING HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS A BIPARTISAN ISSUE: SPEAKER KEVIN MCCARTHY
Ballard, a former U.S. federal agent, began Operation Underground Railroad ten years ago to combat human trafficking after rescuing two children from exploitation in South America.
"The border policies that we have in this country are actually incentivizing traffickers," Ballard told Fox News at the private screening. "If you're an unaccompanied minor coming into this country and you're released to anyone, this is very dangerous."
Ballard referenced a program that enacted stricter biometric verification procedures at the border, including familial DNA tests, recently ended under Biden as the contracts that backed the project expired.
The Speaker said he is proud the Republican majority passed a border security package earlier in May. The bill included measures to restart border wall construction and change laws related to unaccompanied children.
"I wish the Senate would take it up," the Republican leader told Fox News.
There is a "sophisticated network" of child migrant smuggling into forced labor and other forms of slavery in the U.S., Tara Lee Rodas, a whistleblower from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), testified before Congress in April.
The New York Times reported a rise in migrant child labor exploitation in February, claiming that over the last two years, HHS lost contact with over 85,000 migrant minors after they were placed in sponsor homes.
"Human trafficking should not be a partisan issue, we need to save our children," the Speaker told Fox News. "And this film, I hope, would inspire both people on both sides of the aisle to realize what needs to get done to solve this problem."
McCarthy and Ballard held a brief discussion on combating human trafficking before the screening began.
"I think movies are a good thing to bring people together, but also educate the members of Congress," McCarthy told Fox News.
"The ‘Sound of Freedom’ does exactly that," he continued. "This is an educational film."
To watch the full exclusive interview with the Speaker, click here.