Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 28, 2022 / 14:17 pm (CNA).
On the eve of Saturday’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on July 26 that would help victims of human trafficking and go after those who profit off their misery.
The legislation, titled the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022, was sponsored by Republican Rep. Chris Smith from New Jersey and Democrat Rep. Karen Bass of California, and received support from both sides of the aisle in a 401-20 vote.
“Every human life is of infinite value—and we, as lawmakers, have a duty to protect the weakest and most vulnerable from harm,” Smith told CNA, following a July 26 statement.
“The enormous support in the House for this critical human rights and law enforcement legislation is a testament to a widespread consensus and underscores the absolute urgency for securing the funds needed to protect victims, prosecute perpetrators and prevent trafficking from occurring in the first place,” Smith said.
The bill’s key provisions include $1.1 billion in funding to ensure that each trafficking survivor obtains equitable care, reauthorization of Homeland Security’s Angel Watch Center to prevent international sex tourism travel by offenders, enhancement of trafficking education and awareness through programs, and $35 million in funding to provide housing opportunities for survivors.
The legislation would reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, also authored by Smith, which provides funding and education needed to combat human trafficking.
“This critical legislation will go a long way toward protecting so many vulnerable people from exploitation while providing tremendous support and resources to victims. It also reaffirms America’s leadership and commitment to fighting for an end to modern-day slavery,” said Smith.
When the legislation advances to the Senate, it is expected to have strong bipartisan support, according to the statement.
Smith told CNA in a June interview that advocacy for these victims who are most often women and children is part of protecting society’s weakest and most vulnerable. He referenced the Bible verse Matthew 25, which says “‘Whatever you did for the least of my brethren, you did for me.”
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