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My Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

Jan 7, 2014 | Blog

Yesterday, I filed an amicus brief  in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as part of my efforts to combat human trafficking and ensure that its victims receive compensation for the harms they have suffered. The case of Cruz v. Maypa involves the interpretation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 (TVPA), bipartisan legislation that updated and reauthorized human trafficking law. As part of the group of senators who worked to pass this legislation, I am deeply familiar with the text of the law and the issue of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a grotesque form of modern day slavery that occurs abroad and even right here in our own communities. It simply cannot be tolerated anywhere, and the U.S. must use all the tools at our disposal to combat this crime. I am specifically concerned about trafficking by diplomats that is facilitated by the abuse of the G-5 visa process, as is alleged in this case. Ms. Cruz is a Filipino woman who claims she was a victim of human trafficking after she agreed to come to the U.S. to work as a babysitter for a former World Bank employee. Ms. Cruz alleges her contract was violated, her passport was seized, she was kept in social isolation and was forced to work around the clock while living in squalid conditions. The trial court in this case dismissed Ms. Cruz’s case believing that she brought it outside of the statute of limitations. However, Congress expressly acted to extend the statute of limitations applicable to these crimes precisely because it is so difficult for victims to come forward. I believe both simple fairness and plainly applicable federal law entitles Ms. Cruz to her day in Court, which is why I filed this brief.