The Republican representative from New Jersey has proposed bipartisan legislation to assist survivors of human trafficking, which he believes is a pro-life issue.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey has teamed up with Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California to propose the "Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022" or simply HR 6552, a an anti-human trafficking legislation that funds care and support for victims. The Republican leader labeled human trafficking as "modern slavery," calling it a pro-life issue.

"I'm animating my entire work here by Matthew 25, when our Lord said, 'Whatever you did for the least of my brethren, you did for me," Rep. Smith remarked during a press conference on June 6 outside the U.S. Capitol Building, the Catholic Telegraph reported. The Republican leader said that as with advocating for the unborn, advocacy for human trafficking victims falls under protecting the weakest and most vulnerable members of the community.

What is the Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation HR 6552?

Rep. Smith and Rep. Bass' HR 6552 reauthorizes the "Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000," which was also authored by the Republican leader. The anti-human trafficking legislation, if passed, will allot about $1 billion over five years to "strengthen and expand education, restorative care, and other critical programs that protect victims, prosecute perpetrators and prevent trafficking."

Rep. Smith explained during the press conference that essential programs that address the prevention of human trafficking and protect survivors needs reauthorization of funding, as it had expired in September 2021. An earlier version of HR 6552, which was named after social reformer Frederick Douglass, was supported by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, a non-profit organization run by Douglass' direct descendants.

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Rep. Smith, who according to the National Catholic Register is also pushing for an investigation into fetal tissue research at the University of Pittsburgh, said he authored HB 6552 alongside Rep. Bass after years of studying human trafficking and with the input of survivors. He remarked that the propsed anti-human trafficking legislation is "trauma and victim informed," which to the legislators were "extremely important" in drafting the bill. He hadded that they had "listened to those who have suffered from modern-day slavery" and ensured that they "got it right."

HB 6552 seeks the $1 billion in funding to ensure that human trafficking survivors are provided with "quality employment pathways and equitable care." The bill also includes new provisions that tackle social services, case management, life skills training, mental health care, and more. The anti-human trafficking bill has earned the support of 316 signatories and over 500 advocates.

Virginia Establishes Commission on Human Trafficking Prevention and Survivor Support

In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced on June 6 the members of the Commission on Human Trafficking Prevention and Survivor Support, which he established on his first day in office. According to the Royal Examiner, the governor said that the commission is "proof that Virginia is committed to ending human trafficking."

Gov. Youngkin added that some of the "top public safety priorities" of his administration is the "conviction of human traffickers, empowerment of survivors, and prevention of others from becoming victims."

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