WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) cosponsored the Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015, which would establish a pilot program to train health care professionals to identify victims of human trafficking. Peters cosponsored the legislation with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
“Human trafficking is a serious problem in Michigan, and we need to give our health care providers the tools they need to recognize and address human trafficking in their communities,” said Peters. “This program will provide health centers with critical resources that will put us on a stronger path to ending these horrific crimes in Michigan and across the country.”
The bipartisan legislation establishes a program through the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to accredited schools of medicine with experience studying and treating victims of human trafficking. The schools must consult with law enforcement, social services and other experts to develop best practices for identifying victims of trafficking.
“We need a coordinated approach that brings together law enforcement and service providers to successfully combat trafficking. Health care professionals are in a unique position to identify victims of trafficking, and this program will help make them more effective partners in trafficking prevention,” said Peters.
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.