Peters Cosponsors Two Measures to Combat Human Trafficking
Legislation Trains Law Enforcement and Provides Support to Victims
WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he is cosponsoring two bipartisan bills to combat human trafficking by helping empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes and providing additional resources to support victims of trafficking. During a July 2013 FBI investigation, more than 150 traffickers were arrested and 105 children ages 13-17 were recovered in a nationwide sweep, including 18 traffickers and 10 children in metro Detroit—more than any other city involved in the operation.
“Human trafficking is a serious and growing problem in Michigan, and we must ensure that law enforcement has the right tools to stop trafficking in our communities and help survivors rebuild their lives,” said Senator Peters. “I’m proud to cosponsor these bipartisan measures that will provide resources to train law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking and support trafficking victims in Michigan and across the country. Law enforcement is on the front lines in the fight to stop human trafficking, and this legislation will provide critical tools to help put an end to these terrible crimes.”
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.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act provides emergency shelter for young people, and helps service providers learn to identify victims of human trafficking. Last year, Michigan received more than $2 million in funding supported by this bill for programs in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Traverse City, Bloomfield, Mount Clemens, Mount Pleasant, Muskegon, East Lansing, Marquette and Ann Arbor to support homeless and at-risk youth.
“The overwhelming majority of human trafficking victims are children,” said Senator Peters. “Runaway and homeless youth are among the most vulnerable groups targeted by traffickers, so it is vital that these young people have safe places to turn to for shelter and support. Providing resources for these critical programs will help put us on a successful path to protecting young victims and stopping human trafficking in Michigan.”
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.
Peters recently introduced the bipartisan Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Centers Act of 2015 with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), which would establish a pilot program to train health care professionals to identify victims of human trafficking.
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