One chief aim of the the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, authored by Rep. Smith, was to introduce an annual report by the State Department where countries would be ranked in a tier system based on how they met minimum standards set by the law for fighting and preventing trafficking.
The State Department had legal tools at its disposal, like sanctions, to push the countries with the worst records on trafficking to improve.
The Trafficking In Persons report is also updated under the new bill. Countries on the Tier 2 Watch List, the level just below the worst offenders on Tier 3, may only stay on the watch list for a limited period of time before falling to the Tier 3 level if they do not improve their record on fighting trafficking.
Also, countries using child soldiers may not partner with the U.S. military until they discontinue the practice, under the new bill.
Bishop Vasquez stated his support for the proposed legislation on Tuesday, and advocated for citizens to contact their member of Congress to support it as well.
"The Catholic Church has a longstanding role in the prevention of human trafficking and the rehabilitation of victims," he explained in a letter to members of Congress.
The bill's actions to support victims of trafficking are especially important, he said, as well as those actions which aim to cut trafficking from economic supply chains.
"As Pope Francis has stated: '[Trafficking] victims are from all walks of life, but are most frequently among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters,'" he said.
"I believe that these exploited individuals deserve the care and support of our communities and our government and that such support will help them heal and become survivors."
Members of Congress reiterated on Wednesday the importance of the bill funding prevention efforts, helping victims, and strengthening prosecution of traffickers.
In particular, they insisted, Americans must be aware that trafficking occurs in their own communities and on easily-accessible websites.
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"If we call ourselves anti-trafficking advocates, we cannot give a free pass to the websites that sell our women and children," Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) said on Wednesday, pointing to a Washington Post story explaining how the site Backpage.com is "creating and soliciting illegal sex ads."
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) noted how authorities in her home state, acting undercover, posted a sex ad which "in less than two days" garnered "over 100 responses to purchase these girls for sex."
"Every human life is of infinite value," Rep. Smith said on Wednesday. "We have a duty to protect the weakest and most vulnerable from harm."