Finally, we have an obligation to call public attention to this troubling trend. Committed advocates, religious organizations and human and civil rights associations are finding innovative ways to work with law enforcement, the media and elected officials to elevate awareness of this international crisis. Most importantly, survivors with the courage to speak out and educate the public are telling their stories. These survivors compel us to take action.
We introduced this legislation one year ago, and it is time for Congress to act.
Part of what makes America exceptional is our compassion as a nation and our understanding that our most fundamental freedoms are not uniquely American privileges but are instead universal human rights. Trafficking is an affront to human dignity that we cannot ignore. The United States shines a beacon of hope to so many who face human rights abuses abroad. We cannot sit back idly while this injustice continues not only elsewhere in the world, but also here at home.
Our laws must be renewed and updated to protect victims and improve our government’s ability to combat modern-day slavery. No matter where they are in the world, the victims of human trafficking need a strong America to champion their cause as our own.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the lead sponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is a lead co-sponsor of the bill.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.