WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, joined the House this week to strengthen efforts to end human trafficking in the United States and abroad by passing a package bipartisan legislation.
“This criminal conduct may seem a world away, but it is not. It exists right here in our own back yards. Just last year, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 151 cases of human trafficking in our state of Pennsylvania,” said Fitzpatrick speaking on the House floor. “This week, the House can – and must – act in bipartisan fashion to support and bolster anti-human trafficking programs, upgrading our nation’s response to this crime. By empowering non-profits like NOVA and the Bucks Coalition Against Trafficking, and ensuring our local law enforcement’s ability to identify and prosecute these cases, these bills will provide services to victims of human trafficking and aid in apprehending the worlds worst offenders.”
Human trafficking is a $150 billion transnational criminal industry with an estimated 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally. The International Labour Organization estimates that of those victims, 68-percent of are trapped in forced labor, 26-percent are children, and 55-percent are women or girls. Each year, as many as 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex, according to the Justice Department.
Fitzpatrick cosponsored two bills that passed the House: the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017 [H.R. 1188] and the Targeted Rewards for the Global Eradication of Human Trafficking (TARGET) Act [H.R. 1625], which authorizes the Department of State and federal law enforcement officers to use these programs to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of major international human traffickers.
“The Buck Coalition Against Trafficking (BCAT) has been working for almost five years to raise awareness about the crime of human trafficking in our community. We know firsthand that more cases are coming to light in Bucks County and across the state and that children are among the most vulnerable victims. It is essential that partners at the Federal level have as many tools as possible to help uncover and successfully prosecute traffickers,” said Kathy Bennett, co-chair of the Bucks Coalition Against Trafficking. “We applaud Congressman Fitzpatrick’s support of legislation such as H.R.1625, which can help federal law enforcement to leverage cooperation as they pursue traffickers at the international level.”
Additional bills passed by the House include:
- Global Child Protection Act of 2017 [H.R. 1862]: This bill increases the coverage of current laws relating to unlawful sexual conduct with minors during foreign travel. Specifically, the bill amends title 18, United States Code, to expand the definition of illicit sexual conduct to cover “sexual contact,” in addition to expanding the definition of a federal sexual offense against a minor to include this sexual contact.
- Strengthening Children's Safety Act of 2017 [H.R. 1842]: This bill amends title 18, United States Code, to include State crimes of violence as grounds for an enhanced penalty when sex offenders fail to register or report certain information.
- Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017 [H.R. 695]: This bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a program to allow organizations that provide services to youth, the elderly, and the disabled to obtain information from criminal background checks in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint database.
- Targeting Child Predators Act of 2017 [H.R. 883]: This bill protects valuable information used to prosecute and convict child predators by requiring Internet Service Providers to wait 180 days before notifying customers in child predator cases that law enforcement officials requested information attached to a specific IP address.
- Put Trafficking Victims First Act of 2017, as amended [H.R. 2473]: This bill directs the Attorney General to provide training to prosecutors on investigating and processing cases with a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach, and encourages state to provide appropriate services to victims of trafficking.
- Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act of 2017 [H.R. 1808]: This bill updates the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to align with best practices currently utilized at the state and local levels to recover missing and exploited children.
- Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Ace of 2017 [H.R. 1973]: This bill extends the mandatory reporting requirements of child abuse to national governing bodies, like USA gymnastics, to ensure that reports are immediately made to local or federal law enforcement authorities.
- Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017 [H.R. 1761]: This bill amends a Federal statute against sexual exploitation of a minor to protect child pornography victims by closing a loophole that requires the Defendant to have specific intent to produce child pornography prior to abusing a child.