Sanchez: End Modern-Day Slavery

January and National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month may be over, but human trafficking happens every day, every year. It’s a criminal justice struggle that continues to dehumanize nearly 27 million people around the world.

Through my work as a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’ve toured critical human trafficking hubs across Southeast Asia and met with community and faith-based nongovernmental organizations struggling to confront this brutal crisis. On these visits, I’ve seen firsthand the plight of human trafficking victims sold into domestic servitude, forced labor and prostitution.

Across the world, human trafficking is a pervasive human rights crisis. Yet this atrocious crime is often committed right under our noses, in our own country. Each year, more than 17,000 people are trafficked into the United States, half of which are children, according to the State Department. Our government spends billions of dollars each year fighting slavery and human trafficking through our own borders, but far too many victims are slipping through the cracks.

A startling recent investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General revealed that known human traffickers have exploited American visa programs to bring their victims into the United States. The systematic failures that have allowed human traffickers to exploit loopholes are unacceptable. That’s why I’m taking action to fight this modern-day slave trade in America.

Last month, I crafted a bipartisan piece of legislation that tackles America’s human trafficking crisis. I partnered with Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and introduced H.R. 4383, the DHS Human Trafficking Prevention Act of 2016, which takes decisive and swift steps to prevent and combat the crisis of human trafficking into the United States. Armed with the lessons of the recent DHS report, we shaped this legislation to eliminate weaknesses in our current human trafficking prevention system.

The DHS Human Trafficking Prevention Act actively addresses the serious gaps in information gathering and sharing processes at the Department of Homeland Security that have allowed human traffickers to take advantage of our own programs and exploit more victims.

Our legislation orders the DHS to issue department-wide guidance for identifying and keeping detailed records of known or convicted human traffickers. Taking it one step further, our bill instructs Homeland Security to implement practices that enhance collaboration and sharing of this information between the different components of the department. This legislation also requires integration of information technology systems used by the DHS to keep these records and improves independent oversight over these systems.

The government agencies tasked with protecting our borders and our domestic security must live up to our standards and take responsibility, along with our fellow members of Congress, to stop the illegal and immoral smuggling of innocent people and children into the United States.

I hope we can come together this year to pass bipartisan legislation to end this scourge of modern-day slavery.

Sanchez represents California’s 46th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1997. She sits on the Armed Services and the Homeland Security committees.

This Op-ed first ran in The Hill on Feb. 23.

  • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

    End modern day slavery.
    I thought she meant US taxpayers.

    Nevertheless, righteous cause. Exploiting anyone is wrong.

  • Jacki Livingston

    I don’t think LFOldTimer and I agree on very much, but when it comes to you, Ms. Sanchez, we have common ground. I have records of seventeen times that I tried to contact your office, for over six years, begging you for help. I explained to you that elderly and disabled clients of mine were being abused, embezzled from and even killed in the substandard nursing homes they were trapped in, homes being paid with federal and state dollars. I sent you documents, showing you the corruption that went to the very top officials here in the OC. I showed you independent sources, as well as legal contracts, showing the fraud. SEVENTEEN TIMES, Ms. Sanchez. This while I was a member of a union that you pandered to, for your election, that you claimed our leadership were your friends. SEVENTEEN TIMES, Madam…six years. I reached out to you, madam, because this all happened IN YOUR DISTRICT, on your watch. SEVENTEEN TIMES, you ignored me. Every call. Every email. Every packet of documents. One of these nursing homes dropped a woman on her head, from complete negligence, after her family complained. She died. I lost my career, and everything I had worked for, for over twenty five years, because you could not be bothered to do your job. I wish I could vote, seventeen times, against you. I would. I would vote for anyone, whether Kamala Harris or a tree stump, in opposition to you. Thanks to you, and your lazy, irresponsible, self serving kind, hundreds of helpless people…CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY…have been robbed, raped, beaten, abused and killed. So spare me your crocodile tears and your bleating about this topic, because I just don’t buy it.

    • LFOldTimer

      So we disagreed on Trump. So what? What else have we disagreed on, Jacki? I must have missed it. Both of us pretty much agree that the political system in local government works in it’s own best interests as opposed to the best interests of the citizens its supposed to serve. We certainly have a meeting of the minds on Loretta Sanchez. Whatever.

      • Jacki Livingston

        True. We disagree on some small details, but overall, not much. BTW, thank you for always being supportive of my issue of corruption with the BoX. It means a lot when a perfect stranger is more open to hearing truth than any boss I ever had at SSA. Today, especially, that gives me a lot of courage in moving forward with what I have to do. You are a good man, sir.

        • LFOldTimer

          Yeah, I know you have a bone to pick with the local pols. I read your side to the story and I empathize with you. I don’t know the other side to the story or if there is one. I have no bone to pick personally with any of them. I’m just fed up with what they’re doing to my country and the crappy future that they’re leaving behind for all the young people. My parent’s generation cared more about my generation than they cared about their own. You see, that’s true civilization. These selfish stuffed shirts who lead us today couldn’t care less about the mess they leave for the kids – as long as they get theirs. It’s very repugnant and very unamerican. As a matter of fact, it’s uncivilized. I’m a member of the most selfish generation to ever inhabit this nation.

          • Jacki Livingston

            The problem is, for me, that they refuse to hear anyone’s side of any story, not just this one. Then, to avoid having to deal with it, someone like Spitzer can use his wife and client to rig a worker’s comp case, as the final kiss off. And, there is where he made his biggest mistake, because now they will face a judiciary discipline committee, for their part, but Todd still walks scott free. I was raised to respect my elders, and in doing my job, I was protecting elderly folks who had no one else to do it. I feel like I am somehow crazy for believing that because I was paid by the taxpayers, I owed them good work and high ethics. But that is not what public service is, anymore, and that is a national disgrace. I never expected to get rich working in social services. I just wanted to make a living doing work for the people who were paying me. For that, my career and future were ruined by people who use their position to force inappropriate intimate contact or assault on their employees. The scum get rich and the people who do the job with a sense of duty to the public get tossed. And Ms. Loretta, here, had a duty, too, and she ignored it, outright. The nursing home at the center of this storm was in HER district, being paid with state AND federal dollars. She had a duty as much as I did, and she ignored it. But, like Todd Spitzer, John Moorlach, Janet Nguyen and Mike Ryan, she will not be held accountable. Now she is bleating about this cause. Why is she not just as concerned for the elderly CITIZENS of her district? Oh, right, it isn’t sexy or cool, and they don’t vote. In the end, she is no different than the rest of the do nothings feeding at the taxpayer trough.

    • Debby Bodkin

      It is tragic that Ms Sanchez has not responded to your serious reports. This is serious stuff and requires federal government intervention. However Kamala Harris is no better..she has been investigating corrupt DA Rackauckas forever and she will never hold h

      • Jacki Livingston

        Harris at least responded. Sanchez couldn’t be bothered, and that was in her district. Loretta Sanchez cannot become US Senator.

  • LFOldTimer

    Yo, Loretta. After the economic collapse of 2008 the food stamp population skyrocketed to about 45 million. Even though the stock market has more than doubled following the feigned recovery fueled by ZIRP and quantitative easing (fiat currency printed by the FED to prop up the banks) and trillions of dollars in taxpayer money gifted to the banks by the politicians – we still have 45 million people on food stamps. That number has not improved. How’s that not slavery and why aren’t you fighting that? You specialize in all the hot emotional topics and have otherwise accomplished little or nothing of substance in your 20 year plus career in Congress. You are nothing more than a panderer. You don’t have a snowballs chance of beating Harris. If you don’t run for reelection in congress your political career will end and another phony politician will replace you. You’ve played an integral part in furthering the decline of our empire for the last 20 plus years. Thanks for nothing.