Smith bill reauthorizing Trafficking Victims Protection Act passes House

All 12 N.J. House members support anti-trafficking legislation

By Joey Fox, February 14 2024

Last night, the House overwhelmingly passed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, a bill authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester) that reauthorizes anti-trafficking legislation he first shepherded through Congress in 2000.

“This critical legislation reauthorizes funding for FY2024 through 2028 – a total of five years – to continue current year enacted appropriation and authorization levels to enhance programs, strengthen laws, and add accountability,” Smith said in a statement.

The original Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was introduced in the House by Smith in 1999, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000 after passing both the House and Senate unanimously. It aimed to increase the federal government’s ability to detect and prevent human trafficking by creating anti-trafficking offices and task forces, establishing new and harsher penalties for trafficking crimes, and expanding anti-trafficking protections for immigrants.

The bill that passed yesterday reauthorizes that act – something that Congress has had to do several times in the past – while also adding new provisions related to situational awareness training, housing grants for trafficking victims, and more. The bill additionally reauthorizes International Megan’s Law, another Smith bill requiring convicted child sex offenders to notify the government when they travel internationally.

“At a congressional hearing I chaired last May, Gina Cavallo – an amazing, courageous woman from my home state of New Jersey – told us how she suffered unspeakable violence including rape, beatings, coercive drug abuse and other torture as her traffickers sold her like a commodity to one buyer after another,” said Smith. “In writing the Frederick Douglass Act, we listened to survivors including Gina Cavallo who have heroically spoken out against these crimes against humanity and demanded that lawmakers craft policies and write laws that are victim-informed and trauma-informed.”

The bill passed last night on a 414-11 vote, with a small number of right-wing Republicans opposed. All 12 of New Jersey’s House members supported the bill.

Smith bill reauthorizing Trafficking Victims Protection Act passes House – New Jersey Globe