• Brooke Ruhl

Human Trafficking Heroes: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

In January of 2018, President Trump signed a bill authorizing $430 million for a government effort to fight human trafficking at home, as well as abroad. Intended to support education, prevention and caution, this bill is one of the most comprehensive full government plans to take action against modern slavery. The face behind the bill is a New Jersey Representative, Chris Smith.

Chris Smith is serving his 20th term as a Republican U.S. Representative for the state of New Jersey’s 4th congressional district. Smith has always been concerned with international affairs. The representative has been nominated and confirmed twice to the United Nations General Assembly, supported by both President Trump and President Obama.

His career can be marked with multiple contributions to the fight against human trafficking. He has sponsored and written multiple policies and proposals to protect victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, as well as educate and inform people on the risks of this massive international crime industry.

But arguably his most notable and successful anti-human trafficking venture was the bill in 2018. The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act became Smith’s fifth signed comprehensive anti-human trafficking bill. Smith aptly named the bill after Douglass, who escaped a life of slavery to become a leader in the fight to abolish slavery.

The bill allocated funds to help establish programs to educate about human trafficking, to fund the National Human Trafficking Hotline, as well as implement provisions to ensure that government spending is not used to support human trafficking. It also helped to fund programs to train employers to identify possible trafficking victims. The bill was signed and is currently active, becoming the most extensive bill to combat modern slavery to date.

Smith also serves as a Special Representative on human trafficking issues on the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA). He has introduced many resolutions adopted by the organization to protect people from child trafficking, labor trafficking, and sexual exploitation. Thirteen of these resolutions were adopted by all of the 57 countries with membership to the organization.

While Smith is tackling the added stress and issues involving the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey, he hasn’t abandoned his fight against human trafficking amidst the chaos. In an OSCE PA webinar this week, Smith stated,

“Traffickers are not shut down—they haven’t gone on a holiday… Victims still need to be rescued. Survivors still need assistance. Vulnerable people likely will be made even more vulnerable by both the virus and the economic impact of the response to it… And as a result, when things start to open back up, traffickers may have an easier time finding, deceiving, coercing and exploiting victims.”

Follow Congressman Smith on Twitter to stay up to date with his fight against human trafficking.

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Tweet me! @Brooke_Ruhl and use the hashtag #BRuhly_Trafficked


Brooke Ruhl

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Brooke Ruhl

University of Nevada Reno

2020 by Brooke Ruhl.