Washington—The U.S. Senate last night unanimously passed a bipartisan bill to aid in the fight against human trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017, authored by Senate Judiciary Leaders Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would renew existing programs that make federal resources available to human trafficking survivors and establish new prevention, prosecution and collaboration initiatives to help bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Sex trafficking is one of the most reprehensible crimes, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act builds on our bipartisan efforts to combat trafficking and help victims. The key to reducing demand is addressing the exploitation of young girls on the Internet. The bill provides the Justice Department with civil injunction authority to get court orders forcing traffickers to remove their ads for underage girls,” Senator Feinstein said.
“We need a united approach to taking down human traffickers and bringing victims the justice they deserve. This bill takes meaningful steps to shed light on this terrible abuse of human rights by improving awareness and streamlining federal law enforcement’s response. I’m grateful for the Senate’s sweeping support of this bill to assist victims, and look forward to House action so we can get it to the President’s desk and on the books,” Senator Grassley said.
Education and public information is a critical first line of defense against human trafficking. This bill promotes the screening of human trafficking victims by ensuring that school resource officers and other school personnel receive training on how to identify and respond to victims. It also calls for advanced training of federal investigators who pursue human traffickers.
The legislation also allows prosecutors to enjoin conduct that violates human trafficking statutes, and allows the U.S. Secret Service to offer investigative and forensic assistance to other law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking.
The legislation improves coordination among federal agencies through consolidation of federal agency data reporting at the FBI and by requiring the Homeland Security Department to submit annual assessments of the human trafficking investigations. Additionally, the bill formally authorizes an Office of Victim Assistance within the Department of Homeland Security. The specially trained victim assistance personnel at this office play a crucial role in securing victims’ cooperation with trafficking investigations.
Along with Feinstein and Grassley, the bill is cosponsored by John Cornyn (R-Texas) Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
A fact sheet on the legislation can be found here.