Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Combat Human Trafficking

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The Senate unanimously passed Representative Sean Patrick Maloney’s (NY-18) bipartisan Human Trafficking Prevention Act. Initially passed with bipartisan support by the House in 2013 and then again in January of this year, this legislation will help train Foreign Service Officers working overseas at US Embassies to stem the demand for trafficking and spot victims before they are trafficked into the United States. You can view Maloney’s original remarks on the House Floor here. Senator Sherrod Brown offered Maloney’s Human Trafficking Prevention Act today to be included as part of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. After being held up by weeks of partisan fighting, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act has finally cleared the Senate with a vote of 99-0, and now returns to the House for approval.

“Human trafficking isn’t a far-away problem; the horrifying practice of modern day slavery is happening right now in our own backyard. We must do everything we can to end human trafficking, and by investing in our frontline public servants and giving them tools to spot potential victims and take action, this critical legislation combats human trafficking at the source,” said Maloney.

Although the federal government has a zero tolerance policy on human trafficking, Foreign Service Officers, who often have face-to-face contact with victims obtaining US visas, undergo minimal training to define, identify, and recognize indicators of human trafficking or smuggling. A recent Inspector General report of the U.S. State Department issued multiple recommendations including creation of a distance learning course on trafficking-in-persons issues for embassy reporting officers, regional bureaus’ trafficking-in -persons coordinators, and their superiors as well as requiring in person briefings for all ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission before they depart for their posts.

In 2013, Rep. Maloney also supported the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TPVA) of 2013 as part of the Violence Against Women Act. The TPVA previously expired in 2011 and would renew key federal anti-trafficking programs until 2017; provide for new partnerships with cooperating countries to protect children and prevent trafficking; add new protections for survivors of modern slavery; and provide prosecutors with new tools to go after the traffickers who exploit others.

In recent years, there have been multiple sex and human trafficking rings broken up in the Hudson Valley. Last September, Maloney hosted the Hudson Valley Human Trafficking Resources Forum to bring together a panel of law enforcement and community organizations, including representatives of the FBI, U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement Homeland Security investigations unit, and the state attorney general’s office.

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