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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Beatty’s Anti-Human Trafficking Bill to Become Law

May 19, 2015
Press Release
Comprehensive legislation to help trafficking victims headed to White House for President’s signature

Beatty’s Anti-Human Trafficking Bill to Become Law

Comprehensive legislation to help trafficking victims headed to White House for President’s signature

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) recently spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of anti-human trafficking legislation, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, S. 178. One of Beatty’s top priorities in the 114th Congress was to pass her trafficking bill, H.R. 246 – and the omnibus package passed by the House today includes Beatty’s bill and 9 other bipartisan House bills aimed at combatting the scourge of human trafficking. S. 178 passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 420-3 and heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

“After a five month delay, I am pleased that my bipartisan legislation is headed to the White House for President Obama’s signature as part of this larger effort. I applaud the bipartisan group of Senators and House Members who worked together to find compromises to the Hyde Amendment so that this worthwhile comprehensive legislation to combat human trafficking could come to fruition,” said Rep. Beatty. “I will continue working to stop these heinous practices and support child sex trafficking victims. Ending this practice starts with all of us, remember, if you see something, say something.”

A long-time advocate in combatting human trafficking, Rep. Beatty’s legislation would reduce the instances and impacts of child sex trafficking by de-criminalizing the behavior of trafficking victims and making it easier for people to report potential instances to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Cyber Tipline.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is the world’s second largest criminal enterprise, after the illegal drug trade. In the U.S., some 300,000 children are at risk each year of commercial sexual exploitation. In Ohio, each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims of human trafficking and over 3,000 more are at-risk.

A video of Rep. Beatty’s remarks are available here (LINK):

The texts of Rep. Beatty’s Floor remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, S. 178.

First, I would like to thank Chairman Goodlatte from Virginia and Ranking Member Conyers from Michigan of the Judiciary Committee for bringing this important bill to the Floor for consideration.  I also thank Congresswoman Jackson Lee, who is managing the bill today for the Democrats.

This comprehensive legislation is a major milestone in our efforts to crack down on sex trafficking, and help protect vulnerable children across America.

One of my top priorities in the 114th Congress was to pass my trafficking bill, H.R. 246 – and today’s bill includes my bill and 9 other bipartisan House bills aimed at combatting the scourge of human trafficking.

I thank Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley for offering the language of my bill as an amendment during the mark-up of S.178 to ensure its inclusion in this legislation.

On March 2, 2015, I sat through the Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up to witness and hear the Committee’s discussion and vote.

And today, I stand on the House Floor advocating for this legislation that will provide child sex trafficking victims with greater restitution, justice, and resources.

Mr. Speaker, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world.  In fact, according to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is the world’s second largest criminal enterprise, after the illegal drug trade.

As we know, it is not just happening in faraway lands. 

It happens in our own backyards.  I am proud to have participated in and led discussions on preventing child sex trafficking in my District. 

Last year, I joined a bipartisan roundtable discussion to hear firsthand the stories and challenges from once child victim, Theresa Flores, who is now a national spokesperson and best-selling author of “The Slave Across the Street”.

In the United States, some 300,000 children are at risk each year for commercial sexual exploitation.  In my home state of Ohio, each year an estimated 1,100 Ohio children become victims of human trafficking and over 3,000 more are at-risk.

The average age of a trafficked victim in the United States is 12 years of age.  At this early age, children should in middle school, making new friends, playing sports, enjoying after-school programs, or just being children. 

Mr. Speaker, these children deserve better, and today’s legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction. 

We know that no single system can successfully combat trafficking. Preventing, identifying, and serving victims of trafficking requires a multi-coordinated approach across all levels of government, as well as input and assistance from non-government entities and the American public.

My provision in this bill will update federal law to include the term “child sex trafficking”, to reinforce that children who are trafficked should not be criminalized as prostitutes, and instead treated as victims.

We need to ensure people understand that if they report an instance of child sex trafficking, law enforcement is not going to pursue the child and prosecute them as a criminal.  They are victims.

So, I am asking and encouraging all people – when they see something, say something. 

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues today to support this legislation so that we may send it to the President’s desk for signature, finally bringing justice to the tens of thousands of human trafficking victims.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I yield back.

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