U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), the ranking member and chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation Monday designed to enhance the country’s ability to combat the rise of human trafficking.
The Countering Human Trafficking Act and the DHS Blue Campaign Enhancement Act will make permanent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) while increasing coordination between DHS components and the Blue Campaign, a national public awareness effort designed to help law enforcement and the public at large to recognize human trafficking.
“Human trafficking should not be happening in Ohio or our nation,” Portman said. “The bipartisan Countering Human Trafficking Act and the bipartisan DHS Blue Campaign Enhancement Act advance a whole of government approach to give law enforcement the resources they need to combat it and hold those involved accountable for their actions.”
According to DHS, thousands of men, women, and children in the United States are trafficked. Traffickers may use violence, manipulation, or the promise of good jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations. In 2019, calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline showed at least 14,597 sex trafficking victims and survivors in the United States. The actual number may be much higher, officials said, because crimes like human trafficking go unreported.
According to the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, many human trafficking cases involve the sexual exploitation of a child.
“Human trafficking in Michigan and across the nation continues to threaten every community. We need to make sure our federal and local law enforcement agencies have the training and resources to recognize and stop these shocking crimes – which are tragically underreported,” Peters said. “These commonsense, bipartisan bills will ensure that, with the help of the American people, our nation can work to disrupt and dismantle human trafficking organizations and provide support and protection to their victims.”