Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Florida Delegation to Tackle Human Trafficking

Jun 26, 2017
Press Release
Buchanan: “Monstrous Crime Against Women & Children”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., will chair a bipartisan meeting this week of Florida’s 29-member congressional delegation to address human trafficking in Florida.

The meeting is Wednesday, June 28 at 8:30 a.m. in 2020 Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington, DC.

Children account for more than half the cases of human trafficking, a crime in which the victim is abducted or recruited for sexual exploitation. It can also involve illegal organ harvesting and forced labor. Reported cases of human trafficking jumped 54 percent in Florida last year, according to government officials.

Florida ranks third in the United States in number of human trafficking cases, behind California and Texas, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. The delegation will discuss prevention, treatment for survivors and law enforcement’s work to crack down on the crime.

“Human trafficking is a vile and monstrous crime against women and children,” Buchanan said. “Unfortunately, Florida is a hub for human trafficking and that’s why our delegation needs to work together.”

The Suncoast region reports the second-most human trafficking reports of any region in Florida, according to a December 2016 report by the state’s Department of Children and Families. 

Panelists will include Elizabeth Fisher, the founder and head of an anti-sex trafficking nonprofit based in Sarasota called Selah Freedom. Fisher has said that the Suncoast region is a “hotbed” for trafficking and that Selah Freedom is seeing the number of young women being rescued and receiving services triple annually.

Buchanan recently voted for the Put Trafficking Victims First Act, bipartisan legislation that provides federal grants to train prosecutors and law enforcement on how to best protect victims and investigate, prosecute and prevent human trafficking. It also would provide assistance for trauma care and mental health services to victims.

WHO: 

  • U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. 
     
  • U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla.
     
  • Republican and Democratic Members of Florida congressional delegation
     
  • Elizabeth Fisher, president and chief executive officer, Sarasota anti-sex trafficking nonprofit Selah Freedom
     
  • Dr. Suzanne Harrison, director of clinical programs, professor and education director for family medicine, Florida State University College of Medicine
     
  • Bethany Gilot, the statewide human trafficking director, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
     
  • Special Agent Jose Ramirez, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Orlando Regional Operations Center Counterterrorism Squad
     
  • Michelle Guelbart, director for private sector engagement, anti-child sex trafficking nonprofit ECPAT-USA

WHAT: Bipartisan Florida Congressional Delegation Meeting on human trafficking in the state.

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 28, 2017.

WHERE: 2020 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.