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At Women in Business Forum, Paulsen Talks Trafficking

MINNEAPOLIS – Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-03) joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and business leaders from across the Twin Cities at a forum hosted by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce on efforts to combat human sex trafficking. The forum was part of the Chamber’s Women in Business initiative, which seeks to bring together women business leaders with public policy makers for an exchange of ideas and perspectives on issues affecting Minnesota.

 Congressman Paulsen has been a leader in Congress in the effort to combat human trafficking.

Excerpts of Congressman Paulsen’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

“For a long time, many thought of human trafficking as something that only happens in other countries, but the truth is it’s happening in every one of our communities. In fact, human trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime.

“The FBI has identified the Twin Cities as one of the nation’s largest centers for trafficking, and each weekend as many as 45 Minnesota girls are sold for sex.”


Paulsen told the story of one 13 year old girl abducted into the sex trade and trafficked around the country.

“Dayanna was the oldest child in a family raised by a single mother. Her mother had no interest in taking care of Dayanna and her siblings, so Dayanna took it upon herself to look after her brothers and sisters. Looking for love and attention herself, Dayanna was seduced by a man who promised to “treat her the way she deserved.” He even called himself her boyfriend.

“At age 13, within days of running away, Dayanna found herself being trafficked in Philadelphia and Chicago, without a home and separated from her family. As tragic as this story is, her most heartbreaking comment was ‘it was easier to be abused by a stranger than to continue to be abused by her mom. Sadly, this is happening to many young girls in America.’”

Paulsen discussed some of the bipartisan progress being made to combat sex trafficking and the work he’s doing with lawmakers like Sen. Klobuchar.

“That’s why several years ago, Senator Klobuchar and I worked together to pass a new law to encourage states to adopt “Safe Harbor” laws so minors involved in sex trafficking aren’t prosecuted as criminals but are treated as victims.

“I also authored a new law called the Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act, which requires child welfare agencies to immediately notify the proper authorities when children go missing either from their homes or other childcare institutions such as foster homes or shelters.

“In the last year, we have passed an additional 18 bipartisan initiatives to combat trafficking, fight child abuse and exploitation, support and protect victims, and strengthen law enforcement. One of the most consequential new laws is the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA/FOSTA), which holds websites that knowingly facilitate human sex trafficking accountable.

“For years websites like Backpage and Craigslist have escaped accountability and liability for their role in growing this industry. The internet is the number one platform used by traffickers and 76% of victims have been advertised online at some point or another. Today, has been successfully shut-down, and Craigslist has suspended its personal ads section.”

Paulsen closed by calling for continued action:

“There’s still more that can be done. We have found that criminal records make it difficult for trafficking victims to find jobs or be approved for housing when they are attempting to reestablish their lives, which is why I am a coauthor of the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act. This bill allows victims to get non-violent crimes expunged from their records and helps them find affordable housing to get them off the streets and find employment.  

“It’s important that we give victims of this horrible industry every tool possible to help prevent them from being re-victimized and becoming easy targets for other traffickers to prey upon.”