Trentonian news article on new Smith lawPresident Trump signs anti-trafficking bill into law honoring Frederick Douglass'
By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman Sulaiman
HAMILTON — African-American hero Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery as a young man in 1838 and then became a leader in the abolitionist movement, arguing for equal rights during the Civil War and later serving as a U.S. diplomat to Haiti.
Douglass, 77, died in 1895, but his legacy lives on as President Donald Trump signed a human rights bill into law named after the great abolitionist and aimed at stopping modern-day slavery.
The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018, signature legislation sponsored by Republican Congressman Chris Smith of Hamilton, became law Tuesday as Trump found a moment to sign it amid a partial federal government shutdown.
“My Frederick Douglass law authorizes over $430 million over four years to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and beef up prosecution of those involved in this nefarious trade both at home and abroad,” Smith said Tuesday in a press statement. “In the fight to end modern-day slavery, my law honors the extraordinary legacy of one of the greatest Americans who ever lived.”
Douglass was born into slavery in 1818 in the state of Maryland but escaped from bondage at age 20 and became a prolific orator, journalist and statesman who pushed the boundaries of what was possible for a black man in America during the era of chattel slavery and Jim Crow.
Frederick Douglass (National Park Service)
One of Douglass’s descendants, Kenneth B. Morris Jr., applauded Trump for signing Smith’s latest bill into law in the fight against human trafficking.
“If my great ancestor were here today, I believe he would be driven to lead the struggle against contemporary forms of slavery,” Morris, a great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives abolitionist organization, said Tuesday in a news release issued by Smith’s office. “My family sends a special thanks to Rep. Christopher Smith from New Jersey, the entire U.S. Congress and the president for permitting the Douglass legacy to do just that.”
The bipartisan Frederick Douglass law against human trafficking authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent to help train American and foreign law-enforcement officials to better combat labor trafficking and sex trafficking, among other comprehensive efforts, according to Smith’s office.
Republican Congressman Chris Smith
Smith, 65, of Hamilton, has represented New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District since 1981, legislating as a pro-life conservative and human rights champion. His district encompasses a cross-section of Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer counties, including Robbinsville and Hamilton townships.
Click here for an NBC story on Smith's introduction of the bill in April 2017.
Sponsored by Smith, the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 maintains U.S. efforts in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, and the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018 empowers the U.S. secretary of state to provide financial and technical assistance to allies and partners to address genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq.
Trump signed both of these bills into law on Dec. 11, 2018.