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TikToker Casts Doubt on Katie Britt’s Trafficking Anecdote from SOTU Response

Kevin Dietsch
Kevin Dietsch

Alabama Senator Katie Britt delivered the Republican rebuttal to Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday, in which she blasted the president’s economic and immigration policies.

The speech, recited with a heightened sense of drama, was poorly reviewed, including by many members of her own party. Now questions are being raised about whether Britt intentionally distorted one of her most salient anecdotes.

“We know that President Biden didn’t just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days,” Britt said in her remarks. “When I took office, I took a different approach. I traveled to the Del Rio sector of Texas. That’s where I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12.”

“We wouldn’t be okay with this happening in a third world country. This is the United State of America,” Britt continued.

The story implied that the events took place under Biden’s watch and in the United States, since the 42-year-old senator entered office in Jan. 2023.

According to a now-viral TikTok posted by journalist Jonathan Katz, neither of those insinuations appears to be true.

After watching Britt’s speech, Katz said, “I immediately had questions. Who was this woman? How did [Britt] meet her? How did she get her to tell her this story?”

He did some research, he recounted, and quickly found apparent answers. “Senator Britt has told this story over and over and over again,” he said. Just after entering office, she “traveled to southern Texas, to the Del Rio district near the border of Mexico,” with Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Cindy Hyde-Smith, according to records posted on Blackburn’s website.

Official GOP Response to SOTU Has Republicans ‘Losing It’

At an appearance alongside Fox News contributor Sara Carter, Katz said, Britt heard from a woman named Karla Jacinto Romero, whose story aligns perfectly with Britt’s anecdote.

Romero, now 31, was a trafficking victim from ages 12 to 16, according to her biography. In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015, Romero said that, as a child, she was thrown out of her house by her mother and “fell prey to a professional pimp.”

For the first three months of their relationship, she recalled, her abuser treated her well, but he eventually “forced me to work the streets for his own gain. For years and years I was coerced, intimidated, threatened, beaten, robbed of my children, and emotionally and sexually violated time and time again.”

Romero added that, over the course of those four years, she “was forced to serve every type of fetish imaginable to more than 40,000 clients.”

In Katz’s video, he acknowledged the horrors of Romero’s story, and he did not dispute her credibility.

Still, he said, if Britt was indeed referring to Romero in her State of the Union rebuttal, her telling of the facts was “fundamentally dishonest. It goes beyond misleading.”

“I don’t know what they put in textbooks in Alabama these days. But Joe Biden wasn’t the President of the United States in 2004 or 2008. He wasn’t even the Vice President of the United States,” Katz said.

“And none of that really matters here because these events didn’t happen in the United States. These crimes didn’t take place in the United States or even near the border. They took place in Mexico,” he continued. Later, he added, “It just looks like she just got on national television and lied about something really horrific and really important. And for her own personal and her party’s political gain.”

A spokesperson for Britt, Sean Ross, defended the senator’s integrity in a statement to Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kyle Whitmire, who is based in Alabama.

“The story Senator Britt told was 100% correct. And there are more innocent victims of that kind of disgusting, brutal trafficking by the cartels than ever before right now,” he wrote. “The Biden administration's policies—the policies in this country that the President falsely claims are humane—have empowered the cartels and acted as a magnet to a historic level of migrants making the dangerous journey to our border.”

Ross did not immediately respond to an emailed inquiry from The Daily Beast, which asked for clarification about whether Britt was in fact referring to Romero.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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