Miss. Senator Backs Blackburn Bill to Stop U.S. Taxpayer Benefits for Those Charged with Trafficking

021523 Trafficking
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Discusses Legislative Solutions to Fix the Border Crisis.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.), who all toured the Del Rio Border Sector in January, to outline legislative solutions to tackle the national security, criminal and humanitarian problems created by President Biden’s border crisis.

The three Senators, along with U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), used a Wednesday news conference to discuss legislation related to the deteriorating border situation, including the Stop Taxpayer Funding of Traffickers Act (S.519) that would halt federal government payments and benefits for human and drug traffickers while they await prosecution and conviction.

“To think that it’s necessary for us to have to have a bill that says, by the way, we don’t want taxpayer money going to people charged with sex trafficking or human trafficking, is pretty appalling.  But this bill is necessary because the President won’t even go down to the border and talk to the people we talked to.  I’m glad we’ve come back and that we’re trying to address this,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

S.519, which Blackburn introduced Wednesday, targets offenders charged with federal drug and human trafficking offenses, many of whom continue to receive housing and other government benefits while awaiting trial.  The bill would prohibit such federal benefits, which are defined as any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial license provided by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds, as well as any retirement, welfare, Social Security, health, disability, veterans, or public housing benefit.

On the U.S.-Mexico border in January, the Senators heard directly from sexual and human trafficking survivors, and learned that human trafficking is now a $13 billion criminal industry, with criminal cartels earning as much as $14 million every day for trafficking families, women, and children into the United States.

“Nothing is going to stop these people making billions of dollars other than to go down there and close the border,” Hyde-Smith added.  “Nothing is going to stop the trafficking and flood of fentanyl unless we do it ourselves.”

In FY2022, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized nearly 18,000 pounds of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has resulted in drug overdoses becoming the leading cause of death for Americans, aged 18 to 45.

“President Biden’s weakness when it comes to enforcing the law has led to the worst border crisis in our nation’s history.  It’s bad enough that we have an overwhelming amount of illegal immigrants, drugs, and sex trafficking victims streaming into our nation, but it’s even worse that it is preventable,” Hyde-Smith said.  “This legislation will add to the growing list of available solutions to force the Biden administration to do its job and keep our nation and its border secure.”

In addition to Blackburn’s Stop Taxpayer Funding of Traffickers Act, Hyde-Smith has in the past week cosponsored these border security and immigration bills:
•    S.Res.45, a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the current influx of migrants is causing a crisis at the southern border. 
•    S.333, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act, which would close the current “catch and release” legal loophole that requires the U.S. to release illegal aliens who haven’t been accepted for deportation to other countries after being detained for six months.
•    S.348, the Asylum Abuse Reduction Act, which would require migrants to declare asylum at our embassies or consulates in Mexico or Canada before entering the United States
•    S.380, the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act, which would make the distribution of fentanyl, resulting in death, punishable by federal felony murder charges.

Since President Biden has taken office, there have been more than 4.6 million illegal border crossings, including a historic record-high of 2,577,669 illegal encounters at the Southern Border—in 2022 alone.