WASHINGTON, DC — Rep. Chris Smith joined President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and other congressional and State Department officials at the White House on January 31 to mark the 20th year since enactment of Smith’s landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA, Public Law 106-386).
“This landmark piece of legislation changes the landscape of the conversation around human trafficking and elevated the U.S. government’s capabilities to combat this evil,” said Ivanka Trump, who hosted the summit and has led the administration’s multiple efforts to combat human trafficking.
“An estimated 25 million people around the world today are being held captive, manipulated, or abused by human traffickers,” President Trump said. “I was proud to be the first commander-in-chief to attend a meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.”
President Trump took the occasion, citing his authority under Smith’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act to sign an executive order titled, “Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States,” that declared “it shall be the policy of the executive branch to prioritize its resources to vigorously prosecute offenders, to assist victims, and to provide prevention education to combat human trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children.”
“A special thanks to President Trump for recently signing my fifth anti-human trafficking law and for today’s significant executive order,” said Smith, who authored the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which was signed into law in 2000.
“Human trafficking is a barbaric human rights abuse that thrives on greed, secrecy, a perverted sense of entitlement to exploit the vulnerable and an unimaginable disregard for the victims,” Smith said.
“Twenty years ago, the U.S. Congress approved and the president signed the first-ever historic legislation that I authored the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 — a comprehensive whole-of-government initiative to combat sex and labor trafficking in the United States and around the world,” Smith said.
“When I first introduced it, the legislation was met with a wall of skepticism and even opposition—dismissed by many as a solution in search of a problem. For most people at that time, the term trafficking applied almost exclusively to drugs and weapons, not human beings,” said the senior foreign policy lawmaker.
Exactly one month ago, on December 31, President Trump ordered the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to underscore the importance of Smith’s legislation: “In January 2019, I was proud to sign both the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, reaffirming our commitment to preventing trafficking in all forms,” Trump said in last month’s proclamation.
Smith’s TVPA has been reauthorized and/or enhanced through his subsequent legislation. The original TVPA 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.
Smith’s Five Anti-Human Trafficking Laws
One year ago, Trump signed Smith’s latest trafficking law, Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, the congressman’s fifth comprehensive anti-human trafficking bill to become law. Smith has previously authored three additional major U.S. laws to fight trafficking: the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (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).
Currently in his 19th two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Chris Smith serves the Fourth Congressional District, which includes Belmar and Lake Como.
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