Today the Trafficking Survivor Equity Coalition applauded the U.S House of Representatives for their passage of the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022 (H.R.6552). The bill reauthorizes the historic Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (H.R.3244) and provides more than $1 billion over five years to strengthen both the domestic and international response to the second largest criminal enterprise in the world – human trafficking.
“We are excited to see the house advance a strong bi-partisan bill that supports the protection of trafficking victims, prosecution of traffickers and prevention of trafficking,” said Kristi Wells, the CEO of Safe House Project, who is the coalition convener. “We are grateful to our legislative leaders who have shown their willingness to stand firmly behind trafficking survivors and we look forward to the same rapid, bi-partisan support from the Senate so that this bill can advance to the President.”
The Trafficking Survivor Equity Coalition and its more than 500 members praised bill sponsors, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), for their commitment to this landmark legislation. The coalition also thanked House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-VA), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) for their support of the bill as well as Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD), and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA).
“Human traffickers never take a holiday, nor can we,” said Smith, who has chaired more than 35 hearings and written five anti-trafficking laws including the Nation’s historic Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. “Because traffickers and the nefarious networks they lead always find new ways to exploit the vulnerable, especially women and children, we must aggressively strengthen laws and their implementation.”
Bill co-sponsor echoed Smith’s sentiment. “During my career as a health care worker and legislator, I have seen too many instances of human rights violations against children and other vulnerable populations – including those falling victim to the abuses of human trafficking, both in the U.S. and around the world. We must take this issue seriously and continue to implement a whole-of-government approach to addressing it. The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act of 2022 moves to do this not only in supporting those who have already fallen victim, but to also prevent future trafficking and bring perpetrators to justice.” said Bass
Brittany Dunn, Safe House Project Chief Operating Officer and national anti-trafficking expert applauded the bi-partisan work. “The incredible leadership from congress along with the coalition’s advocacy work on behalf of survivors have shown the power of public-private partnerships, which are essential to further the domestic and international initiatives to combat trafficking,” said Dunn. “This bill is a further representation of that partnership as it equips agencies, stakeholders and governments to further efforts to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect survivors,” she said.
Among its key provisions, the Smith-Bass legislation will:
- Provide more than $1.1 billion over five years to reauthorize and enhance successful programs established by Smith’s TVPA such as shelters, mental health care, education, life skills and job training;
- Reauthorize Homeland Security’s Angel Watch Center codified by Smith’s International Megan’s Law (P.L. 114-119) to prevent international sex tourism travel by convicted child sex offenders;
- Enhance trafficking prevention education for children by involving parents and law enforcement in age-appropriate programs to assist in the prevention of child trafficking as well as online grooming; and
- Provide $35 million for housing opportunities to help women escape living with their abusers and to help prevent trafficking of graduated foster youth.
Susan Munsey, a TSEC member and founder of GenerateHope, a restorative home for trafficked women celebrated the progress. “As a survivor leader I am pleased to see the reauthorization of the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Protection Act as it is vital to the work we do in assisting survivors regain their lives and to fight this battle against the devastating crimes of trafficking that touch home to so many across the nation,” said Munsey.
Carolyn Potter, CEO of The WellHouse and coalition member recognized the tangible impact of this legislation. “Since 2011, The WellHouse has served close to 600 survivors of human trafficking and has witnessed firsthand how important that there be every measure of assistance possible for those directly affected by this horrific criminal activity. I am grateful for the bi-partisan support for HR 6552 and how it will bring tremendous support to survivors of human trafficking across our nation,” said Potter.
“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.