News Department

Assemblyman Inganamort introduces bills to combat human trafficking

NEW JERSEY – Assemblyman Michael Inganamort has introduced bills to combat human trafficking.

They are men, women and children; some are foreign-born, promised factory or domestic work and a better life in America. Some are here already, lured away from unhappy situations, real or imagined, with promises of something better. But for them, there are no paid factory or domestic jobs, no something better. Surrounded by an unfamiliar language in unfamiliar surroundings, and indebted for their fare and upkeep, they discovered they have been trafficked for sex or forced labor, Inganamort said.

Their true number cannot be known. However, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reports in New Jersey 3,882 identified victims since 2007, 466 of those in 2021, the hotline’s most recent statistics. Globally, there are 27.6 million modern-day slaves, with upwards of 800,000 persons trafficked across borders annually, Inganamort said.

“They are hiding in plain sight, too scared or literally unable to speak up for fear of retribution against themselves or family members back home,” Assemblyman Michael Inganamort (R-Morris) said. “It is time to take a fresh look at our efforts to combat human trafficking. Among other reforms, we must expand the arena in which we are fighting this scourge.”

New Jersey’s last major update to its human trafficking laws came in the lead-up to the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands – a nod to the perspective that human trafficking may spike around major, multi-state events. New Jersey will be hosting the World Cup in Summer 2026, Inganamort said.

Human trafficking is an international, multi-billion-dollar shadow economy, generating $150 billion annually, according to anti-trafficking groups. For ringleaders and their pimps who bank on the isolation and language barriers of the victims, the benefits often outweigh any risks even when faced with the possibility of 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fine for a first-degree conviction in New Jersey, Inganamort said.

Inganamort says punishments must expand (A198) to include anyone who knowingly gains financially from trafficking.

“This is an industry, second only to the drug trade in profits, in which those who benefit act with impunity,” Inganamort said. “There are few prosecutions for anyone, and those who buy and sell people like property know it. If we’re serious about combating this travesty, that needs to change.”

Inganamort lamented over the story of a Brooklyn man who used social media to lure a then-14-year-old girl from her group home in Bridgewater back in 2019 and forced her into prostitution for five months. Soauib Butcher, 30, was charged in federal court in January with child sex trafficking. The indictment says he and an unnamed co-conspirator posted advertisements on escort websites, forcing the girl to have sex with clients in exchange for money.

Inganamort wants to see digital blocking capabilities required on any device that has Internet access. His “Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act” (A3819) would prevent people from accessing obscene material and escort sites. Consumers ages 18 and older could request in writing to have the blocking feature turned off by verifying their age and paying a one-time digital access fee. That money would help support the state’s Commission on Human Trafficking.

“The reality that we live in a digital world, and that there are evil people who exploit others and target women and children, can be terrifying,” Inganamort said. “With the ever-evolving and sophisticated technology and software aimed at deceiving young people, let’s get in front of this and do what we can to prevent access to highly dangerous material.”

Both bills have been introduced and referred to the Assembly Public Safety and Preparedness Committee.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

Related Articles

Back to top button