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Bob G.
Republican VA 6

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  • Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015

    by Representative Bob Goodlatte

    Posted on 2015-01-27

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    GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I first want to thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe) for his long dedication to addressing this very serious problem and for yielding me this time.

    Few nightmares equal the terrible reality that thousands of American children awake to each day. Held against their will, before the day is out, they will be forced to share perhaps a dozen strangers' beds and be subjected to arbitrary violence for any real or imagined infraction.

    Child sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in our country, and we must update our laws to combat it. H.R. 181, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, is a targeted effort to deploy our law enforcement and social resources against the worst offenders: those who sexually exploit children and other vulnerable victims.

    Rather than simply increasing penalties, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act directly aids the survivors of this crime. The bill creates a comprehensive, victim-centered grant program to train law enforcement, rescue exploited children, prosecute traffickers, and restore the lives of victims. The bill also streamlines existing law enforcement tools by providing that child advocacy centers can and should use their resources to help victims of trafficking and other types of child exploitation.

    H.R. 181 clarifies that State prosecutors may obtain wiretaps, pursuant to a showing of probable cause, for trafficking and other child sex crimes. Additionally, the bill adds several of the Federal antislavery statutes as Federal wiretap predicates--something that should have been done a long time ago.

    These important tools simply give police the same investigatory tools they would have if these criminal gangs sold drugs or stolen property instead of sex with children and other victims.

    The bill makes the law clear that the men who purchase these children's innocence will be held to the same standard as those who make it available for sale, and hold sex traffickers accountable by increasing the standard for claiming an affirmative defense by requiring defendants to show by clear and convincing evidence that they believed the victim to be 18 years of age or older.

    We in Congress have no higher duty than to protect the innocent children of this Nation. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, introduced by my friend and colleague Judge Poe, is a critical step toward banishing human trafficking to where it belongs--the realm of nightmares.

    Please join me in supporting this bill.

    Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney), who, as I indicated, has worked unceasingly on empowering the most vulnerable, particularly in her work on empowering women, vulnerable women around the world, providing them rights, and, of course, the work she has done in collaboration with Congressman Poe and our committee in her work on this bill.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend and colleague for her leadership and for yielding to me.

    I want to commend the Republican and Democratic leadership for bringing to the floor a large number of bipartisan bills to address the problem of human trafficking. I particularly want to thank Judge Poe for his enlightened leadership. He has brought an informed, intelligent, effective focus on this crime, and he has brought new momentum that is helping this country address this issue.

    {time} 1415 I thank the bipartisan Women's Caucus that has made this goal, this common goal of attacking the exploitation of children as a joint priority for our caucus and for this Congress.

    It is an important way to mark Human Trafficking Awareness Week, and this modern-day form of slavery happens all across the world. We don't like to admit it, but it is happening right here in America. It is happening in our small cities, our big cities, every State, every race, creed, and color.

    There are no reliable estimates, but by some accounts, there are as many as 2 million minors trafficked within the U.S. alone. When they have missing children reports, many of the parents believe their children have been stolen into sex trafficking. Most of these child victims who are sex-trafficked are United States citizens or are here legally in the United States.

    Human trafficking, as my colleague pointed out, is the fastest growing crime and the third largest criminal activity in the world, but unlike drugs and guns that are sold only once, human lives can be sold repeatedly over and over and over again until their lives are shattered and destroyed. It destroys lives and comes with a huge social and economic cost.

    We can all agree that no child should be for sale in America--not now, not ever. Our children should not be for sale, but they are for sale under the guise of human traffickers and pimps.

    I am very pleased to work shoulder to shoulder with Congressman Poe on the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. As a former judge and a former prosecutor, he knows firsthand how damaging this crime is to the lives of our young people--and it involves young boys, too--and how difficult it is to get a conviction. His knowledge in this area is tremendously appreciated, and his knowledge is in this bill. I thank him for having been the key author on it and for his passion and hard work on it.

    This bill directly and specifically supports law enforcement training and prosecution of sex trafficking crimes, and it creates a domestic trafficking victims fund within the Treasury Department to support critically needed services for victims.

    We know there are not enough beds; there is no treatment. Many trafficked women tell me they get saved, but then they are put in a park with no place to go, and the traffickers come up and try to get them back into it.

    It goes after those who are trying to exploit children and vulnerable women, [[Page H606]] those who would profit off the misery of others by going after their wallets. It targets the demand side: the child abusers, the child molesters.

    Our victims fund will be financed through fines levied on those convicted of child pornography, human trafficking, child prostitution, sexual exploitation, and human smuggling offenses.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Huizenga of Michigan). The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

    Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield an additional 1 minute to the gentlelady.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. The bill also makes it clear that it is not the victim who is sold and exploited who is the criminal. The criminal is the john, the child abuser who solicits a minor or a trafficker who puts a woman or man out on the street to be bought and sold.

    Human trafficking is harmful not only to the victims, but to society at large. Last May, this House passed this bill in total agreement, and I urge the Senate to follow it and pass it also. It is time to help the survivors get the resources they need to rebuild their lives and to punish the evildoers who purchase and sell these innocent children.

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