WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
and Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today introduced
bipartisan legislation that will establish and reauthorize critical programs to
prevent human trafficking, promote justice for survivors, provide services to
victims and increase federal coordination to enhance the federal government’s
response to the crisis of exploitation. The legislation is cosponsored by
Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
of human trafficking are too often hidden in plain sight, in need of help,
because we don’t know how to identify them or address their needs. This bill
takes the urgently needed steps to support victims in their pursuit of justice
and their search for normal lives. In conjunction with other bills I’ve
supported and sponsored, I intend to continue fighting against the horrendous
work of traffickers and find justice for victims,” Grassley said.
“Chairman Grassley and I care
deeply about combatting the scourge of sex-trafficking and we’ve worked
together on a bill to build on the progress made since 2015. Two key strategies
to fight sex-trafficking are increasing the prosecution of buyers and reducing
the prevalence of advertising that facilitates the sale of young girls on
websites like Backpage. Our bill does both by requiring training of law
enforcement on reducing demand and giving the Justice Department new legal
tools to prevent traffickers from using Internet platforms to sell young
victims. We’re going to work hard to move this bill forward,” Feinstein said.
“Human trafficking is modern-day
slavery, and one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. We have
a solemn responsibility to support victims of human trafficking as they recover
and to help law enforcement bring justice to the criminals who exploit them,”
Cornyn said. “This bill provides important tools for school administrators to
identify and support victims and helps improve coordination between federal
agencies for prosecution of perpetrators of these crimes.”
“As a former prosecutor, I know
how horrific sex trafficking can be—and that it’s happening in our own
backyards. I also know that if victims get the help they need, they can get
their life back together again and not go back into a cycle of violence. This
bipartisan bill will help us take important steps towards finding victims and
getting them the critical support they need," Klobuchar said.
“This legislation will play an
important role in the fight against modern slavery within the United States by
helping victims and giving law enforcement the tools they need to combat this
brutal industry,” said Corker. “This scourge on humanity knows no borders or
boundaries, and I remain committed to efforts that will help end trafficking
and modern slavery worldwide.”
“Victims of human trafficking
need help from their communities as they reclaim their lives,” said Rubio.
“This legislation will help support survivors and provide more resources to
empower and assist victims in their recovery process. I’m proud to join my
colleagues in fighting against traffickers and doing everything we can to
protect and support their victims.”
The legislation, Trafficking
Victims Protection Act of 2017 (TVPA), establishes a wide range of measures
to address human trafficking and the needs of victims.
Education and public information
is a critical first line of defense against human trafficking. This bill will
promote the availability of training for school resources officers to identify
and address victims, and extend a grant program for training school personnel
on recognizing and responding to human trafficking.
The legislation also allows
prosecutors to enjoin conduct that violates human trafficking statutes.
Further, it formally allows the U.S. Secret Service to offer investigative and
forensic assistance to other law enforcement agencies to combat human
Expanded services authorized
under TVPA will include improved grant programs and education on best practices
for screening and identifying trafficking victims.
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
Full text of the legislation can
be found here
and a fact sheet on the
legislation can be found here
Grassley’s statement for the
record introducing the legislation follows.
Prepared Statement for the Record by
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
Introduction of Trafficking Victims
Protection Act of 2017
June 7, 2017
week, I’m introducing a bill known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of
2017. I want to thank Senators Feinstein, Cornyn, Klobuchar, Corker and Rubio
for joining as original cosponsors. I also want to thank the many organizations
that support this bill and worked so closely with us on its development; they
include Rights4Girls, Polaris, the ATEST Coalition, Shared Hope International,
the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National
Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, and the National District
its title implies, our legislation is aimed at combating the terrible scourge
of human trafficking in the United States. To call trafficking victims’
suffering a grave violation of our most basic human rights would be an
is a life-shattering crime that too-often goes unnoticed, despite the profound
injury it inflicts on its victims and our society. Traffickers typically
operate in the shadows, making it hard to identify them as well as their
victims. That invisibility makes it harder still to rescue the victims and
bring the perpetrators to justice.
there are some things we do know about human trafficking, and we know them with
some certainty. We know, for example, that trafficking is happening in rural
areas, in cities, and in the suburbs. It’s not confined to any one area,
because it’s become so profitable. It’s become a problem of national
be sure, we have made some strides in combating this terrible crime since the
passage of the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act, or TVPA, over 15
years ago. The TVPA, last reauthorized in 2013, authorizes some very important
programs to help victims. The bill I’m introducing this week updates and
extends a number of these programs, which are under the jurisdiction of the
Departments of Justice and Labor. Senator Cornyn this week is introducing a
complementary bill that would reauthorize other TVPA programs, including those
at the Departments of Health and Homeland Security.
isn’t the first time we’ve collaborated on this subject. Two years ago, Senator
Cornyn sponsored, and I cosponsored, another important measure, known as the
Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. As chair of the Judiciary Committee, I
made that 2015 law’s passage a top priority for our Committee and fought for
its enactment. It established a new fund to help cover survivors’ services and
also equipped law enforcement with new tools to fight traffickers. The services
authorized under this 2015 statute are crucial to helping survivors rebuild
their lives with dignity.
bill that I’m introducing this week is a critical next step in ensuring that
human trafficking is prevented, its perpetrators prosecuted, and its victims
protected. This bill, drafted with bipartisan support, would require more
training for investigative personnel at the Departments of Justice and Homeland
Security. It also extends a grant program by which school personnel can receive
training to recognize and respond to signs of trafficking in our educational
bill also offers increased assistance to prosecutors and law enforcement
agencies in their fight against human trafficking. For instance, it authorizes
the Secret Service to offer investigative and forensic assistance to other
crime fighting agencies. And it updates key provisions of the Missing
Children’s Assistance Act, which authorizes the important work of the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Center operates a cyber tipline
by which internet service providers can report child sexual abuse.
the bill I’m introducing signals Congress’ continued support for services
available to trafficking victims who cooperate with federal law enforcement in
trafficking investigations. Specifically, the bill authorizes an Office of
Victim Assistance within the Department of Homeland Security. This office,
which is staffed with specially trained victim assistance personnel, plays a
crucial role in securing victims’ cooperation with trafficking investigations.
this bill would promote the collection of more data on trafficking, and it
would promote increased coordination among the federal agencies engaged in
combating this crime. Meaningful partnerships at the federal level can help
expand awareness, leverage expertise, and facilitate creative solutions.
closing, I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.