Bush Signs Anti-Trafficking Bill
Religious leaders hailed President Bush's signing of a bill that continues U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking across the globe.
In an Oval Office ceremony on Tuesday, Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.
"This is a piece of legislation we're very proud to sign and to see that it's authorizing funding for fiscal years ... 2008 through 2011," White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto told reporters before the signing ceremony. "And this program has been very effective around the world in trying to stop trafficking in persons in Africa and Asia."
The law aims to prevent and prosecute trafficking of humans in foreign countries and assist its victims.
"This bill will significantly assist the United States government in impeding the trafficking of women and child for sexual purposes," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in a statement to Baptist Press, the denomination's news service. "It's a tremendously important new tool available to law enforcement officials in prosecuting those who traffic in human flesh. It will make a real difference to the victims of sex trafficking."
Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, said the legislation will help eliminate "a horrific crime" in the United States and abroad.
"President Bush has done much to elevate public awareness about human trafficking and should be thanked for his leadership," said Wester, of Salt Lake City, Utah. "It will be important, however, that the new administration and new Congress remain vigilant and continue to work to end this abominable practice."
The bill, which passed both houses of Congress on Dec. 10, is named after William Wilberforce, a 19th-century British abolitionist.