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Sen. Gary Peters introduces bill to support human trafficking victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) — U.S. Senator Gary Peters introduced a bill to enhance the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to combat human trafficking.

Peters’ office said the legislation would make permanent and expand the Homeland Security Investigations Victim Assistance Program, which helps provide support to people affected by human trafficking.

Peters, who is the Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said the bill would improve and make permanent an existing program that ensures the wellbeing of Homeland Security Investigations employees are partners who are exposed to stress and trauma through their work.

“Human trafficking not only leaves deep, traumatic scars on its victims, but it also impacts the dedicated professionals who are responsible for investigating these crimes,” said Sen. Peters. “This bipartisan legislation will help increase support for victims who are recovering from these horrific crimes and ensure that Homeland Security Investigations agents, victim assistance specialists, and others who work with human trafficking victims have the support they need to effectively do their jobs.”

Based on calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the Polaris Project found that in 2020 there were at least 16,658 sex trafficking victims and survivors in the U.S.

However, experts say the actual number of these crimes may be much larger because such crimes often go unreported.