WASHINGTON, DC —  At a Friday ceremony held at the White House, central jersey Congressman 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 to mark the 20th anniversary of the enactment of Smith’s landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

President Trump took the occasion, citing his authority under Smith’s TVPA, to sign an Executive Order entitled, 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.”

“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.”

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Smith thanked President Trump for recently signing an anti-human trafficking law and the executive order.

“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," said Smith

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.  

“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." 

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