Recognizing Ms. Marisa Ugarte, Outstanding Advocate in the 52nd Congressional District

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 10, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. VARGAS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Ms. Marisa Ugarte, Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC). Ms. Ugarte has worked diligently to combat human trafficking in San Diego County and Tijuana. BSCC's mission is to preserve the dignity and wellbeing of commercially and sexually exploited women and children through prevention, intervention, and education.

In 1997, Marisa Ugarte founded the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, and it was constituted as a 501(c)3 to coordinate services and advocate for victims of human trafficking. Ms. Ugarte's mission became clear when she came across rape camps among the canyons of San Diego, forced labor in agricultural fields, and child prostitutes in Tijuana's infamous Zona Norte. She knew something had to be done. Today, the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition encompasses over 150 government and non-governmental agencies in the United States and Latin America who are dedicated to combating trafficking and empower victims.

Ms. Ugarte convenes an annual anti-trafficking conference in San Diego to bring awareness of the dangers and threats-imposed from active human trafficking across both sides of the border. With a plethora of years of experience in human trafficking and crisis intervention case management, Ms. Ugarte is a human rights advocate who rescues victims from the brutal and exploitative system.

Ms. Ugarte has been an active speaker at conferences nationwide and internationally to discuss the commercial and sexual exploitation of woman and children. Her public speaking engagements have included but are not limited to: The Millennium Conference in Texas and the International Institute for Restructuring the Justice System in Mexico.

Ms. Ugarte has received grants from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. State Department to support her work. The International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance awarded her for bringing sanctuary to girls in illegal brothels in Southern California who had been smuggled across the border.

Ms. Ugarte was honored as the 52nd District Constituent of the Month, particularly during National Human Trafficking Prevention month in January 2023, for her outstanding commitment to supporting victims of human trafficking.