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Anti-sex trafficking advocate accuses GOP Sen. Katie Britt of distorting her story

An anti-trafficking advocate accused Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala, of distorting her story in the GOP response to President Biden's State of the Union address.
Jemal Countess
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Getty Images for JDRF
An anti-trafficking advocate accused Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala, of distorting her story in the GOP response to President Biden's State of the Union address.

The woman who appears to be at the center of an anecdote told by GOP Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., as an example of the impacts of Biden's border policies called the use of her story "distorted for political purposes."

Karla Jacinto Romero, a human trafficking victim who became an anti-trafficking advocate, told CNN's Rafael Romo in Spanish that she hardly cooperates with politicians because "they only want an image...and that to me is not fair."

During last week's GOP rebuttal to the State of the Union, Britt kicked off her criticisms of the Biden administration by arguing that Biden "invited a border crisis."

"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. She told me not just that she was raped every day, but how many times a day she was raped," Britt said, describing the instances and later adding, "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 start acting like it."

But Jacinto Romero told CNN's Romo that she was not trafficked by Mexican drug cartels. She said the trafficker was a pimp who operated separately. She also said she was not trafficked in the U.S. and was kept in captivity from 2004 to 2008, during a time when former President George W. Bush was in office.

Britt met with Jacinto Romerolast year during a tripto the U.S. Border with Mexico. Jacinto Romero has also previously testified about her experience during a 2015 Congressional hearingas a Mexican woman trafficked in Mexico.

Britt has not publicly denied that Jacinto Romero is the woman in question.

In an interview withFOX News Sunday, Britt doubled down on the descriptive use of the anecdote telling Shannon Bream, "I very clearly said I spoke with a woman who said she was trafficked when she was twelve, so I didn't say a teenager, I didn't say a young woman, a grown woman" and reiterated this was an example of trafficking by drug cartels.

Over the weekend, independent reporter Jonathan M. Katz took to TikTok to report details of the background of the story, first identifying the woman in Britt's story was Jacinto Romero.

Britt's office has not responded to NPR's request for comment in response to the reaction or request to explain why this anecdote was chosen for her speech.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.