Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act (H.R. 2480).
Chairman Goodlatte: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Today, Mr. Speaker, we continue our battle against the scourge of human trafficking with H.R. 2480, the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act. This bill, introduced by our colleague Congresswoman Hartzler of Missouri, adds anti-human trafficking efforts as an “allowable use” for funds under the Byrne JAG program – the Justice Department’s flagship grant program for state and local governments and law enforcement. It specifies that the JAG funds may be used for demand reduction operations.
Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the fight against human trafficking starts at the local level. It infects every community and our local officials and law enforcement are on the front lines in this battle. They are in the best position to assess how to address this issue in their communities and how to use these taxpayer dollars.
As part of any comprehensive approach in combating trafficking, local government and law enforcement must address what many call the “demand issue” – that is, going after those who are buying young victims off the street, and very often, off the Internet. This is simple economics applied to a horrific crime. Human trafficking is driven by the demand for commercial sex, and this is costing victims their sense of worth and their dignity. By deterring demand, traffickers will have fewer buyers, and may abandon their illegal and horrifyingly reprehensible activity.
These demand reduction operations and programs are most often carried out at the local level, and it is important to ensure local governments have the tools they need to prevent this destructive crime by deterring people from buying victims. We cannot tolerate sex trafficking and must be able to act swiftly to combat this horrific crime. H.R. 2480 ensures our communities will be able to do just that.
Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Hartzler for introducing this legislation and I urge my colleagues to support it.
I reserve the balance of my time.