Speaking at at the Borgata hotel in Atlantic City during the week before Thanksgiving, Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ 4, delivered the following speech to hundreds of prosecutors at the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey.
In the speech, Smith warned about the dangers of human trafficking, a public safety risk he says he has been warning people about for decades. But it is only recently that lawmakers and the general public has started to realize how serious it is, he says.
"When I first introduced the Trafficking Victims' Protection Act (TVPA), more than twenty years ago, the legislation was met with a wall of skepticism and opposition — dismissed by many as a solution in search of a problem. Several members of Congress turned me down when I asked them to cosponsor the bill. For most people at that time — including lawmakers — the term trafficking applied almost exclusively to drugs and weapons, not human beings.
Reports of vulnerable persons — especially women and children — being reduced to commodities for sale were often met with surprise, incredulity or indifference.