Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced legislation (HR 1427) on Thursday to prioritize U.S. government business with hotels that have strong anti-human trafficking policies in place.

“U.S. government travelers should be staying at hotels that are part of the solution to human trafficking, not part of the problem,” Smith said. “Six of the 10 major hotels chains in the world have taken the initiative to train their staff to recognize and report when human traffickers use their hotels for crime.  These are the hotels that deserve U.S. government business.”

“The trainings are widely available, inexpensive, short—and save the lives of women and children.  Hotels have no more excuses as to why they can’t join the fight to stop trafficking; and the U.S. government has no traveler funds for irresponsible hotels,” Smith said.

Smith’s bill, cosponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) would prioritize government bookings and payment for lodging of government employees at hotels with strong anti-trafficking policies in place, including:

·         Enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy on human trafficking, as defined by federal law;

·         Ensuring that employees have been trained to recognize and report human trafficking cases;

·         Posting in a place accessible to employees or in the employee handbook the signs of human trafficking and how to report human trafficking;

·         Keeping track of reports of human trafficking, and of how the information was handled;

·         Protecting employees who reported human trafficking according to the hotel protocol.

The legislation also mandates that the General Services Administration:

·         Keep a list of hotels that meet these criteria for use by government travelers;

·         Make available sample trainings and posters with recognition and reporting information, many of which are already available through the private sector, NGOs and the Department of Homeland Security. 

Smith has authored five comprehensive anti-human trafficking laws, including his landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, and his Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act which was signed into law in January. That law authorized over $430 million over four years for a comprehensive whole-of-government anti-trafficking effort.