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Rep. Smith Authors New Comprehensive American Law to Combat Trafficking

New Law builds on His Previous Laws including the Historic Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000

WASHINGTON—On Tuesday, President Trump signed into law Rep. Chris Smith’s (NJ-04) bill authorizing $430 million over four years for a whole-of-government effort to fight sex and labor trafficking at home and abroad—Smith’s fifth comprehensive law to fight human trafficking.  

“My Frederick Douglass law authorizes over $430 million over 4 years to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and beef up prosecution of those involved in this nefarious trade both at home and abroad,” Smith said. His Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act is his fifth comprehensive anti-human trafficking bill to become law.

“In the fight to end modern day slavery, my law honors the extraordinary legacy of one of the greatest Americans who ever lived,” Smith said of Frederick Douglass, of whom the bill is named. Douglass, born a slave in 1818, escaped slavery at the age of 20 and became a leader in the fight to abolish slavery and, later, to ending Jim Crow laws. “A gifted orator, author, editor, statesman (and Republican), he died in 1895.”

Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and President of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, stated that “If my great ancestor were here today, I believe he would be driven to lead the struggle against contemporary forms of slavery.  My family sends a special thanks to Representative Christopher Smith from New Jersey, the entire U.S. Congress and the President for permitting the Douglass legacy to do just that.”

Smith serves as the U.S. Congress Special Representative on combatting human trafficking to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), an international organization of leading lawmakers from 57 countries representing over one billion people worldwide. The assembly focuses on security-related concerns including human rights, policing strategies, and democratization.

At the OSCEPA, Smith has sponsored 13 successful resolutions on trafficking, including the very first resolution in 1999 in St. Petersburg, Russia. As Special Representative, he also writes an annual report on human trafficking for the assembly. His 2016 and 2017 resolutions were the basis for an OSCE ministerial decision on combatting child trafficking in 2017, which provided practical steps for member countries to protect children from traveling sex offenders and from misuse of the internet for child trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Smith has previously authored four major U.S. laws to fight trafficking: the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act (P.L. 106-386), the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-193), the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-164) and the International Megan’s Law (P.L. 114-119).

International Megan’s Law, funded in Smith’s new law, established country-to-country notification to protect children from convicted pedophiles who may seek to travel for the purposes of sex trafficking of children and other forms of child sexual exploitation; since the law’s enactment in February, 2016, it has resulted in 3,442 denials of entry of convicted pedophiles seeking to enter a country.

This whole-of-government effort to fight trafficking in Smith’s new law includes:

  • Age-appropriate prevention education for children;
  • Shelter, therapy, and reintegration for trafficking victims;
  • Facilitation of trafficking-free supply chains in U.S. commerce;
  • Training of U.S. government officials and airline industry employees to better identify and prevent possible cases of trafficking, and;
  • Oversight to ensure that U.S. government purchases are not employing traffickers.

The Frederick Douglass legislation authorizes funding for the following:

  • $18 million over three years to DHS and DOJ and State to fund the International Megan’s Law
  • $78 million over four years to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to:
    • Ensure that children in the U.S. are educated in an age appropriate manner on how to avoid becoming victims of sex and labor trafficking
    • Provide U.S. Citizen and Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) and foreign victims with 24/7 access to rescue and assistance through the National Human Trafficking Hotline
  • $20 million over four years to the Department of Labor (DOL) to:
    • Facilitate trafficking-free supply chains in private businesses and U.S. government purchases
    • Inform DHS of imports that may contain trafficked products, to prevent their entry into the United States
  • $315 million over four years to the Department of State (DOS) for their work to:
    • Support the training of U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials to better combat human trafficking
    • Write the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and encourage credible and effective use of the Report to hold countries accountable in the fight against human trafficking
    • Engage diplomatically with countries to help them improve their trafficking laws and implementation
    • Help countries develop better referral and assistance programs for rescued sex and labor trafficking victims
    • Improve coordination of government and civil society efforts abroad to fight child trafficking
    • Convene the President’s Interagency Task Force and coordinate the efforts of various U.S. government agencies to fight human trafficking at home and abroad
    • Create a special complaint mechanism in embassies whereby the U.S. is warned of traffickers exploiting the U.S. entry system
    • Prevent abuse of domestic servants in embassies and diplomatic homes in the U.S.
    • Encourage USAID to integrate human trafficking prevention into disaster relief
    • Assist foreign countries in meeting the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking
    • Assist foreign victims of human trafficking
  • $1 million over four years to train airport personnel, flight attendants, and pilots to recognize and report to law enforcement potential trafficking victims in transit

Smith’s landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which he has reauthorized and/or enhanced through his subsequent legislation, created a bold new strategy both domestically and internationally that included sheltering, asylum and other protections for the victims, long jail sentences and asset confiscation for the traffickers, and tough sanctions for governments that failed to meet minimum standards.  Smith’s legislation has served as a model for new laws in countries throughout the world. 

The new Frederick Douglass legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), originally passed the House with full reauthorization for all agencies that were originally funded through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations. 

The legislation has been endorsed by a consortium of faith-based and non-profit groups including the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA), Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence, International Justice Mission (IJM), National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, Vital Voices Global Partnership, Rights4Girls, Shared Hope International, Amb. Swanee Hunt, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Equality Now, and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The bipartisan legislation has been cosponsored by Members from both parties, including original cosponsors Reps. Karen Bass (CA-37), Ed Royce (CA-39), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Susan Brooks (IN-05), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Ted Poe (TX-02), and Ryan Costello (PA-06).

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