U.S. House of Representatives Passes Legislation to Combat Human Trafficking

Congressman Cramer issued a news release on House of Representative action against human trafficking. In total, twelve bills were passed which address the issue in whole and reach into areas such as law enforcement, victim support, foster care, awareness training, and welfare.

The legislation passed by the U.S. House today will complement work currently underway in the North Dakota state legislature. The U.S. House’s Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act encourages states to establish their own “safe harbor laws” to ensure victims of trafficking are treated as victims and not defendants, and are properly directed to child protective services. The North Dakota state legislature is set to vote on its own safe harbor law during the 2015 session, which is supported by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

Here are Congressman Cramer’s comments on the legislation:

“These twelve bills represent twelve different directions coming at the same problem. Each perspective is an important one, it deals with a different aspect of this scourge of human sex trafficking in our country. It’s a great illustration of the diversity and the talent on exhibit in the U.S. House of Representatives. You’ve got Republicans and Democrats, conservatives, liberals, men, women, locking arms and bringing their talents together in this package of bills that cannot be ignored any longer. The previous Senate for some reason wasn’t interested in this topic, but we think the current Senate is much more interested with its new leadership. We already know the Senate judiciary chairman has agreed to take these up, and we expect they will end up on the President’s desk yet this year,”

An overview of the legislation follows below:

Human Trafficking Prioritization Act: Raises the status of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) to give the unit an equal voice with other bureaus in the U.S. State Department.

International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking: Addresses human trafficking in tourism by requiring notice whenever a registered child sex offender travels outside the United States, and requesting the same information from foreign governments for anyone seeking to enter our borders.

Human Trafficking Prevention Act: Mandates new minimum training procedures for foreign service personnel.

Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims for Youth Trafficking Act: Enables existing grant resources for use in training Department of Health and Human Resources staff on human trafficking prevention, and to provide street-based services including treatment, counseling, crisis intervention, and emergency shelters.

Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act: Ensures child welfare agencies have the proper systems and personnel to identify and assess child victims of trafficking.

H.R. 246: Replaces the term “child prostitution” with “child sex trafficking” on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children cyber tipline to emphasize the fact children are victims, not willing participants.

Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act: Creates more effective training for healthcare personnel by awarding grants to medical and nursing schools to develop best practices in combating human trafficking.

Human Trafficking Detection Act: Requires Department of Homeland Security personnel to be appropriately trained on how to identify suspected human trafficking cases, and keep accurate records to increase the training program’s effectiveness.

Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act: Launches a review of federal and state trafficking prevention activities by the Interagency Task-Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, requires an inventory of existing federal anti-trafficking efforts by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), and adds support for survivor shelters to Department of Justice grants.

Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act: Deals with the serious nature of the crime by creating a National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, helping victims pursue legal damages, and requiring convicted johns to be listed higher on the National Sex Offender Registry. It also creates a national human trafficking hotline which will be helpful in western North Dakota where local resources are sometimes scarce.

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act: Strengthens prosecution of those involved in human trafficking by increasing law enforcement resources, penalties, while also boosting support for victims’ services. It also encourages robust collaboration between all involved parties including law enforcement, child welfare systems, tribal authorities, victim service groups, and the court system.

SAVE Act: Makes it a federal crime to profit from knowingly advertising for the commercial exploitation of minors and trafficking victims.

Josh Wolsky

Editor and Publisher of TheMinotVoice, Developer of the #ForMinot Network,  Co-Host of #GoodTalk Minot, Advocate and Friend of the Souris River, Former City Alderman, and clearly -- all things #MakeMinot. Go ahead, don't wait for permission!