Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives effectively voted unanimously on three separate bills aimed at ending what Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., described as a "sinister enterprise" that is striking at the very hearts of our communities.
The bills, all passed by voice vote, were:
- H.R. 2664, The Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act, which directs the secretary of labor to train Department of Labor personnel how to effectively detect and assist law enforcement in preventing human trafficking during the course of their work.
- H.R. 2480, The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, which expands the use of Byrne JAG Program federal funding for local law enforcement to include "programs to combat human trafficking (including programs to reduce the demand for trafficked persons)."
- H.R. 2200, The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes funding for U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking both at home and abroad through 2021; funding was set to expire on Sept. 30.
After the bills were adopted, Ryan gathered a bipartisan group of legislators to discuss the ramifications of the legislation. Click here to watch the video of that press conference.
"Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world," Ryan said. "It's a sinister enterprise that strikes at the very heart of our communities.
"Here with me today are Republicans and Democrats from all walks of life in our country. This is truly a national problem, and that means it's going to take a national effort to solve it.
"We want law enforcement to have every possible resource to protect our citizens. And we want to give real support—and a voice—to the victims of these awful crimes.
"So today the House is taking more action to end human trafficking. And we are going to keep at this because it is about the safety and security of our children and our country."
President Donald Trump, upon receiving word of the bills' passage while en route to Paris, where he is attending Bastille Day festivities, immediately issued a statement demanding that the Senate take action. He said he wanted those bills on his desk quickly so that he can sign them into law:
"My administration is focused on ending the horrific practice of human trafficking, and the three bills the House of Representatives passed today are important steps forward," he said. "Since taking office, I have met with courageous survivors, nonprofit groups and faith leaders who are devoting tremendous energy to raising awareness about human trafficking. I am hopeful that the Senate will take up and pass these three bills as soon as possible, and I look forward to my continued work with the Congress on this important issue."
Back in April, the president hosted two of the Chibok schoolgirls, Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, in the Oval Office. They were two of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists disguised as school security guards who kidnapped between 200 and 300 girls for the purpose of enslaving them.
Bishara and Pogu are among the 50 girls who have escaped the terrorist group. They recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy in Oregon and told their story to the president, first lady Melania Trump and the president's daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump. During the visit, they read a short letter they had written to the president:
We urge you to keep America safe and strong. We know that some people are trying to discourage you. Do not be discouraged. You are right to keep American safe and strong.
Not only for America. But for the world. If American is not safe and strong, where can people like us look for hope, when there is danger?
Finally, we urge you to keep making America prosperous.
Earlier this month, the Department of State issued its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The comprehensive report estimated that there are 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world.
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