Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Karen Bass made the following statement in response to President Barack Obama recognizing January 2012 as National Trafficking Month:

“As January comes to an end, we must continue to maintain an open dialogue about the growing epidemic of human trafficking among men women and children in our country and abroad. Although this an extremely sensitive issue to address, we must not shy away when so many victims are enduring unimaginable circumstances around the world. As President Obama stated, human trafficking “is a crime that knows no borders”, so it is imperative that we work together with partners in America and abroad to put an end to these terrible crimes. In my District, I work closely with the Coalition Against Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), to identify ways to combat human trafficking through legislation in Congress. With the help of groups like CAST, I have introduced bills that seek to ensure child welfare agencies have the tools to understand the unique needs of child human trafficking victims and the resources to appropriately serve them; and to develop a public-private task force to prosecute online human traffickers.

“While we still have tremendous work to do, the first step to making human trafficking a priority is to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which will strengthen human trafficking prevention, protection, and prosecution programs. The typically bipartisan bill is currently locked in an irresponsible political battle. The safety and well-being of people is not a matter of party affiliation, but a basic right that should be a priority to Members of Congress. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to do what is right and make the appropriate investment in this legislation to protect human trafficking victims.”

Karen Bass represents the 33rd Congressional District, which includes Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Culver City and was the 67th Speaker of the California Assembly.