The U.S. House Appropriations Committee has carved $20 million out of the existing Homeland Security budget for the ICE Child Exploitation Investigation Unit (CEIU), the elite team that focuses on locating and rescuing children. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) introduced the amendment on the floor of Congress last week, and we wanted to share her speech with you: vimeo.com/protect/20million
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Here is the full text of Rep. Wasserman Schultz's speech:
First let me commend both Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Price on a strong bipartisan bill, but let me especially recognize their leadership for adding language to this legislation to protect our most vulnerable constituents: our children. This language that I refer to will effectively fence of $20 million in funds for child exploitation investigations and forensics within Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Child Exploitation Investigations Unit at the Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Speaker, there is no question that our children need our support now more than ever. With the proliferation of the Internet and wireless technology, the spread of child pornography online *must* be addressed *now.* We don't have a moment or an opportunity to waste. The Department of Justice estimates that at any moment, there are more than one million pornographic images of children on the Internet.
Think about that: one million. With an additional 200 images being posted every day, and more than one-third of the world's pedophiles involved in organized pornography rings worldwide live in the United States. The Internet allows these images to be disseminated indefinitely, victimizing that child again and again with each click of the mouse. Because let's not forget that these are not just heinous images; they are crime-scene photos. Every face in those photographs is the face of a child who needs our support in order to escape a living hell of constant abuse and exploitation.
Since the 1970s, before we even *had* a federal child pornography statute, ICE--which was then called the US Customs Service--was a leader in the fight to protect our children. That is still true today. Last year there were more than 1,600 criminal arrests relating to child exploitation and 2,600 worldwide investigations were launched, setting new records for Homeland Security Investigations. Already this year there have been 1,382 criminal arrests relating to child exploitation. Their efforts are second to none, and I know they will continue to put these resources to good use.
But for every child rescued, hundreds more remain trapped in a current of abuse, the horrors of which none of us can truly imagine. And we need the absolute best personnel going into the fight to rescue these children. That's why it's my hope that some of these funds will be used to employ our wounded warriors, in addition to our experienced agents already fighting these battles.
And I thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for adding report language in the bill to encourage the hiring of these valiant veterans. Our Armed Services have already protected us abroad, so naturally our veterans are a perfect choice to protect our most precious resources at home. In fact, retired Army Master Sergeant Rich Robertson is already fighting child exploitation at the ICE field office in Tennessee. In his words, "Who better to hunt child predators than someone whose already hunted men?"
I'm enthusiastic about this initiative because I know that the immense skills and motivation of our returning servicemen and -women and the skills that they possess could be the key to our most successful affront on child exploitation yet. Child predators won't stand a chance.
By harnessing the abilities of our wounded warriors we not only ensure that there skills, dedication, and drive are put to good use back home, we give them the most dignified thank-you of all: a job that truly makes a difference.
Mr. Speaker, let me be clear: With the inclusion of this language, we are putting predators on notice. Their reign of terror is coming to an end. You can bet on it. I thank my colleagues on the committee for committing to fight until every American child can live free from terror and exploitation. Thank you.
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