In 2 years, out of 250 cases in LA, 93% were women, mostly foreigners.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, took to the floor of the House to pledge his support for Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and spurred his colleagues to support his newly proposed legislation entitled HR 3344, otherwise known as the Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination (FORTE) Act, today.
Calling trafficking “modern day slavery,” Royce’s enthusiasm for stopping human trafficking come at a time when the US is embroiled a diplomatic spat with India over Devyani Khobragade, who has been alleged by the State Department and various advocacy groups of engaging in exactly such activity by illegally bringing a housemaid to the US and paying her far less than New York City’s minimum wage.
“This January – designated as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month – is a perfect time to shine a spotlight on this dark issue,” said Royce as he addressed his fellow Representatives. “But awareness is only a first step, and needs to lead to action.”
Royce outlined the provisions of the FORTE Act to gain support for the legislation. The central points of the bill are: that foreigners recruited to work in the US are given clear terms as to what their work will entail, that foreign workers are protected unequivocally by anti-trafficking laws, that recruiters are prohibited from enacting hidden fees and “coercive leverage” on workers, that all foreign recruiters must be registered with the Department of Labor and be in good standing, and that certain incentives and other measures be put in place to encourage cooperation with these laws.
Royce pointed to statistics in his own home district – California’s 39th, which is located in the Los Angeles area – where he says there have been 250 human trafficking victims in the last two years, 93% of which were women and, out of those, 80% of which came from foreign countries.
“Even in my work as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have learned that human trafficking is not just a problem “over there” in faraway countries with developing economies,” said Royce. “It is a scourge even in the communities that we serve and represent.”
The full video of Royce’s speech in front of the House of Representatives can be viewed below:
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