Biden Signs Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2022

Biden Signs Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2022
President Joe Biden signed a bi-partisan bill on Dec. 27 that codifies and expands the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT).

The Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2022 provides $14 million to the CCHT. Part of that money will be used to staff the organization with “at least 45 employees to carry out the Department’s critical work to combat human trafficking,” according to a DHS press release.

The bill also requires public transportation and hubs—which include buses, planes, and trains—to post the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888).

“This is a seminal moment in our fight against the scourge of human trafficking,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

“With the increased funding and additional personnel dedicated to our leading DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, we will advance our work to identify and support victims, conduct operations that hold the traffickers accountable, and strengthen our partnerships with non-governmental organizations.”

The new legislation will also “facilitate the continued development of the Blue Campaign, the Department’s national human trafficking awareness initiative, designed to educate the American public about the signs of trafficking and the ways in which they can help trafficking victims and help bring suspected traffickers to justice,” CCHT Director Cardell T. Morant said.

Human trafficking includes forced labor and sex trafficking, according to a U.S. Department of State fact sheet.

24.9 Million Trafficked Worldwide

More than 24.9 million people—adults and children—are subjected to human trafficking around the world, including in the United States, according to a Department of State estimation.

DHS data shows that the average age of girls forced into the commercial sex trade is between 12 and 14. For boys, it’s 11 to 13.

California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and New York are the top five states for sex trafficking in the United States, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-Mich.) during a hearing in Washington on Aug. 6, 2020. (Toni Sandys/Pool/Getty Images)

Authored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the Countering Human Trafficking Act passed through the House on Dec. 14 after clearing the Senate in April.

“Human trafficking is horrific, and these crimes—which often go unreported—must be stopped,” Peters said. “This bipartisan bill will provide the Center for Countering Human Trafficking with tools, resources and authorities needed to disrupt human trafficking organizations and ensure our nation can protect victims of these terrible crimes.”

The CCHT is supported by 16 DHS offices and agencies. The organization’s mission is to advance counter-human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims, and enhance prevention efforts by aligning DHS’s capabilities and expertise, according to the DHS.

‘Ending this Inhumane, Immoral Practice’

In a statement released by the White House on Dec. 30, Biden recognized January 2023 as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. President Barack Obama established the month in 2010.

“I call on businesses, civil society organizations, faith communities, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we play in the fight against human trafficking and observe this month with appropriate programs and activities aimed at preventing all forms of human trafficking,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

“Around the world, human trafficking has stripped nearly 25 million people of their safety, dignity, and liberty—disproportionately affecting historically underserved and marginalized communities,” Biden wrote.

“During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we reaffirm our commitment to ending this inhumane and immoral practice in all its forms. And as we bring perpetrators to justice, we renew our pledge to help survivors recover and rebuild their lives.”

Biden’s signature on the Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2022 and his proclamation of January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month happens at a time when Republicans prepare to take control of the House and investigate Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, for a variety of alleged crimes, among them alleged connections to human traffickers.

Flanked by House Republicans, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 17, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In October, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, told The Epoch Times that the committee will subpoena the Biden family’s “domestic and international business dealings … to determine whether these activities compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality.”

“Hunter and other members of the Biden family have a pattern of peddling access to the highest levels of government to enrich themselves,” Comer said. “The American people deserve to know whether the president’s connections to his family’s business deals occurred at the expense of American interests.”

House Republicans promised that the House Oversight Committee would launch an investigation into the Biden family if their party regained control of the chamber in November’s midterms.

On Nov. 17, House Oversight Republicans released a report outlining their findings of an initial probe claiming they uncovered evidence of federal crimes committed by, or to the benefit of, the Biden family.

These crimes include conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, tax evasion, money laundering, and violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, according to Comer.

A Suspicious Activity Report is filed by a financial institution—such as a bank—with the Treasury Department as a result of the institution noticing money abnormally moving from person to person or account to account.

U.S. banks are required by law to flag cash transactions that exceed $10,000 per day and automatically file SARs with a Treasury Department agency to prevent criminal activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion.

Hunter Biden and Jim Biden, the president’s brother, have 150 Suspicious Activity Reports filed against them, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told The Epoch Times and NTD on Dec. 7. Only two of the reports are public, Jordan added.

“One [suspicious activity report] generated by an American bank to the Treasury Department connects Hunter Biden and his business associates to international human trafficking, among other illegal activities,” Comer said.

White House spokesman Ian Sams told The Epoch Times in November that the House probe is a “politically-motivated” attack that is filled with “conspiracy theories.”

“President Biden is not going to let these political attacks distract him from focusing on Americans’ priorities, and we hope congressional Republicans will join us in tackling them instead of wasting time and resources on political revenge,” Sams said.

On Dec. 21, an attorney for Hunter Biden said that the president’s son retained a prominent defense lawyer as part of his legal team ahead of the potential congressional oversight investigations into his overseas business interests as early as January 2023.

“Hunter Biden has retained Abbe Lowell to help advise him and be part of his legal team to address the challenges he is facing,” Kevin Morris said. “Lowell is a well-known Washington-based attorney who has represented numerous public officials and high-profile people in DOJ investigations and trials as well as Congressional Investigations.”

By Jeff Louderback