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Washington, D.C. – This evening, the House of Representatives passed the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act of 2018 (H.R. 2219). The bipartisan legislation, authored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), helps law enforcement and financial institutions identify and report suspected human traffickers so that they can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“Human trafficking – modern-day slavery – continues to devastate the lives of tens of millions of people around the world. The perpetrators of these disgusting acts prey on the vulnerable and defenseless, including young children.

These are not just faraway crimes, but also occur in the United States, even in the communities I represent. I think of the survivors I have met in Southern California, like Angela Guanzon – locked into her abusive workplace, sleeping on the hallway floor. Survivors have taught me that the horror of trafficking lies not in statistics, but in stolen lives.

These crimes are common because they are profitable. The International Labor Organization estimates that more than $150 billion in illegal profit is made from forced labor each year, making human trafficking the third most valuable criminal enterprise in the world.

Traffickers are laundering their money through financial intuitions they can access with the click of a keyboard. Cutting off their access to the banking system is critical to putting an end to these illegal operations, once and for all.

The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act will help law enforcement and financial institutions identify and report suspected human traffickers so that they can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This legislation will not only bolster our efforts to combat human traffickers’ use of our domestic financial system, it will also encourage other countries to cut off traffickers from the global financial system.

H.R. 2219 will update the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report to require a country-by-country assessment of whether foreign governments have a framework in place to prevent financial transactions involving the proceeds of severe forms of human trafficking.

The annual TIP reports, which the State Department uses to rank countries’ efforts to combat human trafficking, are taken seriously in foreign capitals, and can help to reinforce global norms of responsible behavior. Since the reports began 18 years ago, more than 120 governments have enacted national anti-trafficking laws. Although enactment doesn’t always mean enforcement, it is a critical first step.

As the center of the global financial system and the leading country in the world in combating human trafficking, the United States must take all possible steps to address this heinous crime. For this reason, H.R. 2219 deserves our unanimous support.”

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