Florida Congressmen Continue to Fight Against Human Trafficking

This week, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., showcased his support behind a proposal from two congressmen from the Sunshine State to help in the fight against human trafficking.

Back in September, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., introduced the “Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act” which would have the Office of Trafficking in Persons, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), create grants to offer “training for students, teachers and other school personnel on the warning signs of human trafficking.” The bill would fund the grants with $75 million over a five year period. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., is the main cosponsor of the bill.

“These grants would be issued by non-profit organizations that have shown expertise in creating and teaching human trafficking and exploitation prevention curricula. The bill also prioritizes funding for non-profits serving geographic areas with the highest prevalence of human trafficking,” the congressmen’s offices noted.

When they brought out the bill, the congressmen noted that more than half of the victims of human trafficking are children and Florida ranks third among states when it comes to it. They also noted the number of human trafficking cases went up 25 percent last year.

“While awareness about human trafficking and exploitation has increased, prevention efforts are lacking. To protect our children, it is imperative that we educate students, teachers, and school personnel to recognize the dangers of trafficking and exploitation, not just to protect children from traffickers, but also to prevent potential traffickers and abusers from exploiting others in the future,” Hastings said.

“Human trafficking is a vile and monstrous crime against women and children,” Buchanan said. “Educating students and teachers about the warning signs is critical to addressing the problem. This is especially important in hot spots for human trafficking like Florida. I look forward to working with Congressman Hastings and organizations like the Selah Way Foundation to end this modern-day slavery.”

Steube was an early supporter and he weighed in on the proposal on Monday.

“With nearly a fifth of Florida’s human trafficking victims being children, we need to empower our educators and administrators to understand the signs and protect our students,” Steube said. “The safety of our children is a top priority in our education system and this legislation will protect precious lives by giving vulnerable children the support systems they need.”

The bill has more than 20 cosponsors in the House including U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Al Lawson, D-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., Donna Shalala, D-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., Ross Spano, R-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla.

The bill is before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee. Over in the U.S. Senate, the companion measure is being championed by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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