Katie Britt accused of mischaracterising story in State of the Union rebuttal

Alabama senator is being accused of omitting key details from a human trafficking survivor’s story

Ariana Baio
Saturday 09 March 2024 22:55 GMT
Republican Alabama Sen. Katie Britt rebuts Biden’s speech from kitchen table

Katie Britt, the Alabama Senator who delivered the Republican’s rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, is being accused of misrepresenting a graphic story about a human trafficking survivor in Mexico to criticise Mr Biden’s border policy.

During her speech on Thursday, Ms Britt elevated Republicans’ rhetoric and concerns about the US-Mexico border by recounting the time she travelled to Del Rio, Texas in 2023 and met with a young woman who was allegedly trafficked by Mexican cartels at the age of 12.

Ms Britt briefly described the horrific crimes the young woman experienced before calling for different border policies.

“We wouldn’t be OK with this happening in a third-world country. This is the United States of America and it’s past time we started acting like it. President Biden’s border crisis is a disgrace. It’s despicable. And it’s almost entirely preventable,” Ms Britt said on Thursday.

Though Ms Britt did not name the individual she was speaking about, an independent journalist, Jonathan Katz, said that it appeared she was speaking about Karla Jacinto.

Ms Jacinto is a human trafficking survivor whom Ms Britt, along with Senators Marsha Blackburn and Cindy Hyde-Smith, met last year while visiting the border. Ms Jacinto appeared briefly in a video with the Alabama senator.

Though Ms Britt has not confirmed this is the individual she’s speaking about, Ms Jacinto shares an almost identical story to the one Ms Britt spoke about.

In 2015, Ms Jacinto testified to Congress about being trafficked in Mexico beginning when she was 12 years old in 2004 until she was rescued at 16 years old in 2008. Her testimony was used as evidence in support of International Megan’s Law.

Ms Jacinto never testified to being trafficked by drug cartels nor being trafficked in the US. She told CNN in 2015 that she was trafficked in Mexico City, Guadalajara and other Mexican cities

Those details, which were omitted from Ms Britt’s speech, considerably distance Ms Jacinto’s experience from the current border crisis and Mr Biden’s presidency.

Mr Katz accused Ms Britt of being “fundamentally dishonest” in repeating Ms Jacinto’s story to make it appear as though it happened on or near the US-Mexico border during the Biden administration.

The Independent has reached out to Ms Britt’s office for comment. Her spokesperson, Sean Ross, responded to The New York Times and said in a statement that “The story Senator Britt told was 100 percent correct.”

If you are a child and you need help because something has happened to you, you can call the NSPCC free of charge on 0800 1111. You can also call the NSPCC if you are an adult and you are worried about a child, on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adults on 0808 801 0331

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