WASHINGTON, DC—Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) bill authorizing $430 million over four years for a comprehensive whole-of-government effort to fight sex and labor trafficking at home and abroad cleared Congress today, marking his fifth comprehensive anti-human trafficking bill to become law.
Smith is the author of America’s first human trafficking bill, the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which he has reauthorized and/or enhanced through his subsequent legislation. The original TVPA, enacted in 2000, 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.
“As prime author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), it is an honor to present the new Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act,” Smith stated during the Floor debate.
“My bipartisan bill recommits the United States to fight the pure evil of human trafficking and aid trafficking victims at home and abroad for another four years,” said Smith. “Alongside faith communities, non-governmental organizations, and private businesses, we are fighting harder and smarter than ever before.”
Smith’s new legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act (HR 2200), 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.
Named for the abolitionist Frederick Douglass on his 200th birthday, Smith’s HR 2200 would reauthorize $430 million in current appropriated funds to bolster an integrated, whole-of-government response to fight human trafficking.
“In the fight to end modern day slavery, the new bill honors the extraordinary legacy of one of the greatest Americans who ever lived,” Smith said. “Born a slave in 1818—we celebrated the 200th anniversary of his birth this year—Frederick Douglass escaped slavery when he was 20 and dedicated his entire life to abolishing slavery and, after emancipation, to ending Jim Crow laws and lynching, all while struggling for full equality. A gifted orator, author, editor, statesman (and Republican), he died in 1895.”
This whole-of-government effort to fight trafficking in Smith’s bill 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; and
- 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; and
- 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; and
- 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
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 (D-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Ryan Costello (R-PA).
Smith has previously authored four landmark anti-trafficking laws: