U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) issued the following statement about President Obama's call for an to end human trafficking.
"American tax dollars should never be allowed to subsidize human trafficking. The exploitation of persons recruited by unscrupulous labor brokers and subcontractors who misrepresent pay, charge excessive recruiting fees, or confiscate immigration and identity documents cannot be tolerated, yet some government contractors have turned a blind eye to such despicable practices.
"I have been working with members of both houses of Congress and of both parties to strengthen the United States' zero tolerance policy for trafficking in persons and hold accountable those who act contrary to this policy.
"While I welcome the President's involvement in an issue that is so fundamental to our values, I am perplexed that he has issued an executive order, which may well slow the momentum for reforms that can be accomplished only by legislation such as changes in the criminal code. Years of regulatory wrangling and executive pronouncements have failed to accomplish what only legislation can do, and I urge the President to support swift passage of our bipartisan, bicameral bill."
Part of the President's effort includes an executive order on federal contracting that largely mimics a bicameral, bipartisan legislative effort led by Senator Collins and Senators Joe Lieberman (I/D-Conn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).
The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act enhances prevention, accountability, and enforcement with regard to trafficking by among other things requiring contractors with contracts over $1 million to implement compliance plans to prevent trafficking and related abuses, such as destroying or confiscating passports; misrepresenting wages or work location; and using labor brokers who charge exorbitant recruiting fees. The bill also covers federal contracts and assistance -- and most importantly, makes changes to federal criminal statutes to cover foreign labor bondage for work performed outside the United States.