Representative passes first bill within weeks of new Congress

Within the first few days of the new Congress, the House of Representatives unanimously passed Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (NY-18) bipartisan Human Trafficking Prevention Act. Initially passed by the House in 2013 with bipartisan support, this legislation will help train foreign service officers working overseas at U.S. embassies to stem the demand for trafficking and spot victims before they are trafficked into the United States.

Although the federal government has a zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking, foreign service officers, who often have face-to-face contact with victims obtaining U.S. visas, undergo minimal training to define, identify and recognize indicators of human trafficking or smuggling.

A recent inspector general report of the U.S. State Department issued multiple recommendations including creation of a distance learning course on trafficking-in-persons issues for embassy reporting officers, regional bureaus’ trafficking-in-persons coordinators and their superiors as well as requiring in person briefings for all ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission before they depart for their posts.

In 2013, Maloney also supported the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TPVA) of 2013 as part of the Violence Against Women Act. The TPVA previously expired in 2011 and would renew key federal anti-trafficking programs until 2017; provide for new partnerships with cooperating countries to protect children and prevent trafficking; add new protections for survivors of modern slavery; and provide prosecutors with new tools to go after the traffickers who exploit others.

In recent years, there have been multiple sex and human trafficking rings broken up in the Hudson Valley. Last September, Maloney hosted the Hudson Valley Human Trafficking Resources Forum to bring together a panel of law enforcement and community organizations, including representatives of the FBI, U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement Homeland Security investigations unit and the state attorney general’s office.

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