Sex trafficking victim says Sen. Katie Britt telling her story during SOTU rebuttal is 'not fair'

ByRafael Romo and Melissa Alonso, CNN, CNNWire
Monday, March 11, 2024
Alabama Senator Katie Britt delivers the SOTU Republican response
In her response to Biden's State of the Union address, Senator Katie Britt called out the President for the strife of families across the Nation.

The woman whose story Alabama Sen. Katie Britt appeared to have shared in the Republican response to the State of the Union as an example of President Joe Biden's failed immigration policies told CNN she was trafficked before Biden's presidency and said legislators lack empathy when using the issue of human trafficking for political purposes.

"I hardly ever cooperate with politicians, because it seems to me that they only want an image. They only want a photo - and that to me is not fair," Karla Jacinto told CNN on Sunday.

CNN's Freedom Project, which seeks to raise awareness about modern-day slavery, previously profiled Jacinto's story.

Jacinto told CNN that Mexican politicians took advantage of her by using her story for political purposes and that it's happened again in the United States.

"I work as a spokesperson for many victims who have no voice, and I really would like them to be empathetic: all the governors, all the senators, to be empathetic with the issue of human trafficking because there are millions of girls and boys who disappear all the time. People who are really trafficked and abused, as she [Britt] mentioned. And I think she [Britt] should first take into account what really happens before telling a story of that magnitude," Jacinto said.

During the Republican response to Biden's State of the Union address Thursday, Britt said, "When I first took office, I did something different. I traveled to the Del Rio sector of Texas, where I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at age 12," before saying, "President Biden's border crisis is a disgrace. It's despicable. And it's almost entirely preventable."

Jacinto said she met the senator at an event at the southern border with other government officials and anti-human-trafficking activists, instead of one-on-one as Britt stated. She also said that she was never trafficked in the United States, as Britt appeared to suggest. She was not trafficked by Mexican drug cartels, but by a pimp who operated as part of a family that entrapped vulnerable girls to force them into prostitution, she said.

Jacinto said she was kept in captivity from 2004 to 2008, when President George W. Bush was in office and when Biden was a senator.

CNN reached out to the senator's office seeking comment Sunday.

Sean Ross, Britt's communications director, told The Washington Post that the senator was talking about Jacinto and disputed that Britt's language was misleading.

Asked by Fox News' Shannon Bream on Sunday whether she meant to give the impression that the story had taken place during Biden's time in office, Britt responded: "No, Shannon," before criticizing the president's border policies.

"I very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked when she was 12. So I didn't say a teenager, I didn't say a young woman, a grown woman. A woman, when she was trafficked, when she was 12," Britt said.

In a prior statement to CNN, a spokesperson for Britt's office neither confirmed nor denied Britt was sharing Jacinto's account, but said the story the senator told "was 100% correct."

CNN's Sam Fossum contributed to this report.

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