Peters Applauds House Passage of Anti-Human Trafficking Measures
Cassidy-Peters Legislation Heads to President’s Desk to be Signed into Law
WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today applauded the passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill he introduced with Sen. Bill Cassidy (LA) to train health care professionals to recognize the signs of human trafficking in their patients. The Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015 passed the House as part of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act on a bipartisan vote. The Senate previously passed the same legislation in April. The legislation will now go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Human trafficking is a horrendous crime that is happening in communities across Michigan and the country. Doctors and nurses are in a unique position to help victims of trafficking who seek medical attention, and training medical professionals to recognize the signs of trafficking will help rescue victims and allow them to rebuild their lives,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased the House passed this vital legislation today, and I hope the President will sign it into law quickly so we can get to work on making medical professionals more effective partners for trafficking prevention.”
The Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015 establishes a pilot program to train health care professionals to identify victims of human trafficking. The legislation awards a grant to an accredited school of medicine with experience studying and treating victims of human trafficking. The school must consult with law enforcement, social services and other experts to develop best practices for identifying victims of trafficking. The grant will be administered through the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act creates a Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund, financed by fines on individuals convicted of human trafficking, child pornography, child prostitution, human smuggling and other offenses. The fund is expected to increase federal resources for support for human trafficking victims by as much as $30 million per year.
The Attorney General can use the fund to support programs for human trafficking and child pornography survivors. The fund will also provide grants to state and local governments to develop and implement victim-centered programs to train law enforcement to rescue trafficking survivors, prosecute human traffickers and restore victims’ lives.
A 2013 Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking report found that trafficking is a serious and growing problem in Michigan. The Commission identified five key factors that hinder the prevention of human trafficking in Michigan: inadequate data on human trafficking, gaps within the state’s victim servicing framework, lack of awareness that human trafficking exists, the need to strengthen anti-trafficking policies and the failure by professionals to recognize indicators of human trafficking.
During a July 2013 FBI investigation, more than 150 traffickers were arrested in a nationwide sweep, including 18 traffickers in metro Detroit—more than any other city involved in the operation. This legislation will continue to build on the successful work of programs like the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force to combat trafficking in the United States and around the world.
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