During Super Bowl Week, Cornyn Calls for Senate Action to Fight Human Trafficking
by John Cornyn on January 27, 2015 at 4:30 PM
When many people hear about human trafficking, you think about something that doesn't happen here in America; it happens somewhere else.
You might envision brothels in foreign cities or girls being smuggled across other borders, but the sad reality is, human trafficking is a problem all across the United States and at all times of the year.
But it's especially a problem surrounding big public events like the Super Bowl. Yes, human trafficking is happening right in our own backyard, and more than 80 percent of sex trafficking victims in America are U.S. citizens.
And as a father of two daughters, I can tell you, one of the most disturbing facts is the average age of a child who first becomes a victim of sex trafficking is 13 years old. 13 years old.
Earlier this month I partnered with the Senator from Oregon, Senator Wyden, Senator Klobuchar from Minnesota, and Senator Kirk from Illinois to introduce a bill we call the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.
And I talked with the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley, and asked him to give this bill an early markup in the Judiciary Committee so it will be eligible to come to the floor as soon as we can get it here.
I'm going to be asking the Majority Leader to schedule floor action so we can have a debate on and a vote on this important legislation.
The bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act:
- Creates a “Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund” that the Attorney General can use to fund victims’ support programs for human trafficking and child pornography survivors. This fund is deficit neutral and financed through fines on persons convicted of child pornography, human trafficking, child prostitution, sexual exploitation, and human smuggling offenses. This fund will increase the federal resources available for human trafficking victim support by up to $30 million/yr.
- Allows American citizens and lawful permanent residents who are victims of human trafficking to obtain official recognition of their status from the federal government (HHS). Currently, only non-citizens are eligible to obtain an official certification.
- Creates a deficit-neutral block grant to help States and local governments develop and implement victim-centered programs that train law enforcement to rescue trafficking survivors, prosecute human traffickers, and restore the lives of victims. This program is funded entirely through the “Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund” created by the bill.
- Prioritizes victim restoration and witness assistance for trafficking survivors by directing the proceeds of forfeited criminal assets to pay victim restitution orders and financial awards for witnesses who come forward and assist law enforcement. Encourages prosecutor training on restitution in human trafficking cases Increases law enforcement authorities to seize the assets of convicted human traffickers.
- Recognizes that child pornography production is a form of human trafficking ensures that victims have access to direct restorative services at Child Advocacy Centers.
- Allows state and local human trafficking task forces to obtain wiretap warrants within their own state courts without federal approval in order to investigate crimes of child pornography, child sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.
- Ensures regular reporting on the number of human trafficking crimes by making human trafficking a Part I offense for purposes of the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Requires law enforcement to upload available photos of missing into the National Criminal Information Center database and to notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of any child reported missing from foster care.
- Clarifies current law to reduce demand for human trafficking by encouraging police, prosecutors, judges, and juries to target all persons involved in the buying and selling of human trafficking victims.
- Protects victims and witnesses by requiring human traffickers to be treated as violent criminals for purposes of pre-trial release and detention pending judicial proceedings.
- Ensures that federal crime victims are informed of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement in their case and clarifies that the ordinary standard of appellate review applies in cases concerning federal crime victims’ rights petitions.
- Supported by national victims’ rights and law enforcement groups, including: Shared Hope International, Rights 4 Girls, Fraternal Order of Police, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Children’s Alliance, National Criminal Justice Association, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, PROTECT, National Association of Police Organizations, National Conference of State Legislatures.