La prensa

PERSPECTIVE: Senator Misrepresented Sex Trafficking Story for (Over)Dramatic Effect

Katie Britt
Author: La Prensa
Created: 09 March, 2024
6 min read

Arturo CastañaresBy Arturo Castañares

Alabama US Senator Katie Britt gave the Republicans' response to President Biden’s State of the Union address and told the harrowing story of a human trafficking victim to criticize the current situation at the border, saying “We wouldn’t be okay with this happening in a third-world country; this is the United States of America!”

But there’s just one little problem with Britt’s story used to highlight the dangers of the current crisis at the US-Mexico border.

The victim was trafficked entirely within Mexico between 2004 and 2008, during the two terms of President George W. Bush, not Joe Biden.

Sen. Katie Britt, the junior senator from Alabama, delivered a much-panned speech that seemed overly dramatic at times yet included several harsh criticisms of President Biden’s policies, including attacking the current crisis at the Mexican border.

To emphasize the dangers of the immigration crisis, Britt told a dramatic story about a woman she met during a tour of the border in Texas who had been trafficked by cartels “beginning at the age of 12.”

Britt, 40, did not give more details of the woman or her experience, but it was a powerful moment of her nearly 20-minute speech delivered from the kitchen of her home in Alabama.

But just two days after the speech, details of the woman Britt reference were confirmed and they paint a much different picture than the one used to highlight the dangers of the US-Mexico border.

It turns out Britt met the woman, now identified as Karla Jacinto Romero, when Britt and two other US Senators toured the border in January 2023, along with Mexican Congresswoman Rosa Maria de la Garza.

Article - Uber

Romero detailed her horrific experience of having been trafficked by Mexican cartels and exploited for four years in brothels, motels, and homes before being rescued.

During the four years she was held captive, Romero estimated she was raped by up to 30 men per day a total of over 43,000 times in Guadalajara, Mexico City, and other areas of Mexico, no where near the US-Mexico border.

But Romero didn’t tell her story to Britt in some private meeting or even for the first time.

Romero has testified numerous times, including before a US House Foreign Affairs subcommittee in May 2015 when speaking in support of HR515, known as Megan’s Law.

The entire episode of Romero’s trafficking and exploitation occurred in Mexico between 2004 and 2008 during the time George W. Bush was President of the United States.

Nothing about Romero’s story is related to the border, the US, and certainly not President Joe Biden.

Britt, along with her Republican colleagues, used her nationally televised response to President Biden’s State of the Union address to make dramatic attacks for political purposes, not to advance any serious efforts to deal with the very real crisis at the border.

In fact, not only was Britt disingenuous in trying to link Romero’s tragic story with the border crisis, but Britt also hid her connection in killing a recent attempt to actually deal with immigration reform.

Article - Uber

Senator Britt was part of a bipartisan committee that crafted a proposal to tighten asylum rules, allow for border shutdowns, increase border enforcement, and create new avenues for legal migration.

But before the Senate could take up the proposal, Donald Trump urged Republicans to kill the measure because it would give Biden a win on immigration leading up to the November election.

And Britt dutifully voted against her own proposal.

There is a crisis at the border. Our immigration system and political asylum laws were not designed for the tens of thousands of migrants making their way to the US from countries far beyond our borders.

We know migrants are traveling to and through Mexico to reach our border in numbers never seen before. We need immigration reform.

The answer, however, is not to lie and misrepresent what’s really happening and use the crisis for political gain at the expense of real people’s lives.

Republicans claim Biden has opened the border. That simply is not true. 

US Border Patrol agents are working just as hard, if not harder, to deal with the overwhelming flow of migrants pushing their way north. 

Article - Uber

No one opened the gates and left the border unattended.

But Republicans are also derelict in their duty to do something to actually help solve the problem, not just sit back eating popcorn and letting the problem spill into a true humanitarian crisis just to help elect more Republicans who will also then do nothing.

Under Donald Trump, Republicans held the White House and both houses of Congress for two years yet offered no measure to deal with the border crisis except to fund border walls that were slow to be built, expensive, and inefficient to deal with the problem.

Trump’s policy to keep asylum seekers in Mexico during their processing only increased illegal crossings.

Human migration has occurred for thousands of years usually unabated by artificial national borders. The economic and political pressures of their homelands have pushed people to risk their lives to find better opportunities for themselves and their families.

We must deal with the realities of the border in honest, effective, and productive ways.

Lying about real people’s lived experiences is not a solution, but only makes true reform impossible.

Senator Britt and her Republican colleagues must be honest in dealing with a crisis that is endangering lives on both sides of the border.

Article - Uber


We must do better than playing petty politics and delivering false narrative to already confused and frustrated voters.

Many suspected Britt was auditioning to be Trump’s running mate, but her performance now seems more like a failed tryout for his old reality television show.

Shame one Katie Britt for missing an opportunity to help, not hurt, the country she purports to love and defend.

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