Tag Archive: Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Yesterday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day across the country. In Trenton, a rally was held on the State House steps and was followed by presentations by the Attorney General and others working to combat this crime.

Below, are links to the remarks by the speakers at the rally – lawmakers from across the political spectrum as well as representatives from the Polaris Project, an international NGO devoted to combat human trafficking.

Patricia Devine Harms – Junior Leagues

Congressman Chris Smith

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle

Senator Nellie Pou

Senator Tom Kean Jr

Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter

Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula

Justin Zimmerman for Senator Nia Gill

Kate Keisel and Ingrid Johnson of The Polaris Project

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Trenton

It’s probably not on your calendar, but today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In Trenton, the day was observed with a rally in front of the State House, and a program which featured officials from several different agencies working to combat this scourge.

Crime is not a partisan event, and supporters of stronger measures come from all sides of the political spectrum. At the rally speakers ranged from Progressives like Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to Tea Party sympathizers like Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose. Congressman Chris Smith’s appearance reminded us that it’s not just a state, but a federal issue. And big events like the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey tend to attract the perpetrators of these crimes.

Human trafficking, while it has a negative connotation, does not adequately describe the problem. In reality, it’s slavery. Slavery that is just as disgusting as the slavery that was supposed to have ended 150 years ago with the Emancipation Proclamation. There are estimates that over 10,000 boys and girls in New Jersey are trapped in this horrendous activity.

After the rally, I spoke with two sponsors of legislation to help address the problem – Senator Nellie Pou and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (below). Below the fold are comments from Attorney General Jeff Chiesa. Some additional video from the rally will be posted on the sidebar over the weekend.

Human Trafficking Bill Passes Assembly Committee

As a legislator, what do you do after you spearhead the nation’s most comprehensive anti-bullying legislation into law? If you’re Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, you don’t rest on your laurels. Instead, you tackle another human rights challenge.

Today, the Assembly Judiciary Committee took testimony on a bipartisan bill that is being shepherded through the legislature by Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle – a bill to combat a scourge that is often under the radar but ruins countless lives. The bill was heard (and passed) through the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.

Human trafficking is an insidious problem that is pervasive across the country. It enslaves children into the dark world of prostitution and forced labor. History shows that high profile events like the Super Bowl, which comes to New Jersey in 2014, attract these human traffickers and their clients.

While there are already laws on the books and there have been arrests made, testimony at today’s hearing revealed that there have been no convictions for human trafficking in New Jersey in the past six years. Vainieri Huttle’s bill adds fines and additional regulations.

While the two Republicans on the panel expressed support for the concept, they also voiced concerns about the constitutionality of some of the provisions and contended that the requirement to train law enforcement officials was an unfunded mandate. Both (Michael Patrick Carroll and Holly Schepisi) abstained from supporting the bill as written. All the Democrats on the panel voted in favor.

In an interview with Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle after the hearing (below), she addressed the concerns that were brought up and stressed that this bill has bipartisan support. She said she will proactively work with her colleagues in the Assembly and in the Senate, where the bill is yet to be introduced, to amend the language to meet the concerns of all parties. No doubt she will work tirelessly to help abate this human rights problem.



Our 2014 Super Bowl Highlights an Important Civil Rights Issue

According to its web site, the 2014 NFL Super Bowl, to be played in New Jersey, will bring the region’s tourism industry over a half billion dollars. There will be parties; restaurants and bars will be packed, and the state’s economy will receive a much-needed shot in the arm.

But the festivities bring a down side, also. Under the radar of all the game hoopla and news stories about the community festivities, past Super Bowls have seen an increase in human trafficking in the host cities.

According to Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle,


Slavery still exists in the United States. Until recently, human trafficking has remained in the shadows of society. Victims, often children and vulnerable women, are too afraid and dependent on traffickers to break their silence and seek help. Exploited for years, they are coerced into prostitution, labor, and drug activity. When they finally have a chance to regain their freedom, they are prosecuted for the crimes they were forced to commit while enslaved, while the real perpetrators remain untouched by the law

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri HuttleTo help combat this scourge, Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle has introduced a bill, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act (A3352) which promotes awareness, provides training to law enforcement, and will focus not only on prosecution, but help for survivors of these crimes.

Last month, President Obama proclaimed that fighting human trafficking is one of the great civil rights battles of the 21st Century. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center handled almost 20,000 calls for assistance, but clearly this is the tip of the iceberg. Initiatives like those of the President and of Assemblywoman Vainieri-Huttle will encourage more victims to self-identify and help eradicate this plague. And lest you think this is a problem that is exclusive to the economically distressed areas of the state, according to the Polaris Project, human trafficking calls were originated in places like Voorhees and Cherry Hill, as well as other locales around the state.

So as you’re watching football this fall, whether you’re thinking about this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, or next year’s in New Jersey, write to your federal and state legislators to support the fight against human trafficking. Not just on Super Bowl Sunday, but year round.



Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-3737-888

The Wheels Grind Slowly

Back To Work NJ – It’s now been over a month since the legislature passed this package of job bills, some with extensive bipartisan support. Many of them would help our stagnant economy. Christie enjoyed drumming up attention by going to Chicago in what appears to be an unsuccessful effort to lure business to NJ while ignoring some promising bills gathering dust on his desk. He likes to travel and pontificate, but he shows much less interest in other activities of governing.

medical marijuana and more below

The Wheels Grind Slowly

Back To Work NJ – It’s now been over a month since the legislature passed a package of job bills, some with extensive bipartisan support. Many of them would help our stagnant economy. Christie enjoyed drumming up attention by going to Chicago in what appears to be an unsuccessful effort to lure business to NJ while ignoring some promising bills gathering dust on his desk. He likes to travel and pontificate, but he shows much less interest in other activities of governing.

Medicinal Marijuana Act – It was signed by Governor Corzine in January 2010. More recently the legislature passed a resolution that Governor Christie’s administration was not following the intent of the law.  Meanwhile the Health Department’s deadline for its Requests for Proposals was yesterday amid  reports that many worthwhile groups decided against submitting an application. Next week the legislature may vote to void the regulations – in effect a necessary legislative veto but one which will delay the process further. It is a sad turn of events for such a promising law, and maddening that Christie is so hostile toward the program.

Human Trafficking – A simple, inexpensive bill (S535) that directs the Attorney General to publicize information about trafficking hotlines and mandates law enforcement training on responding to the needs of victims was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in October. The Assembly Committee has been remiss in not yet addressing this needed bill.

Permitting pharmacies to sell needles without a prescription – By reducing the likelihood of people sharing syringes and needles, this bill (S958) decreases the spread of blood-borne illnesses. The Senate Health Committee has reported out the bill. It is time for the Assembly committee to do likewise.  

A Modest Proposal

        “I have been assured that a young healthy child is a most

        delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food.”

Jonathan Swift’s satirical Modest Proposal for ending the problem of poor children was for their parents to eat them. Today too many young and poor children, both American and foreign, fall into the grip of human traffickers. Now a Modest Proposal has been sponsored, initially by three Republicans and one Democrat, to further address the crisis. It provides an opportunity in our often divisive legislature for members of both parties to join together to pass a bill with little cost but a huge impact on those affected.

Senate Bill S-535 directs the Attorney General to publicize information about human trafficking hotlines and mandates law enforcement training on responding to the needs of victims of this crime. The 3-page bill just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been sent to the Budget Committee. There is a companion House bill A1795.

As Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31) says, “For the victims of human trafficking, life can be a nightmare of abuse, forced servitude and ever-constant fear and intimidation. We need to give them the tools to break the cycle of servitude, and give the law enforcement community the training to meet the unique needs of these people. This affects runaways and at-risk kids who think that they have nowhere else to turn and fall in with the wrong crowd, and it affects individuals who’ve become dependent on illegal drugs and are forced into prostitution to get their next fix, among many others.”

We shall see if Democrats and Republicans work together to enact this Modest Proposal. The statewide hotline to report trafficking is 877-986-7534.