U.S. Senator Peters unveils new human trafficking bill

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Senator Gary Peters during a hearing on cyber security, May 11, 2021. (NEXSTAR)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) — U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Gary Peters introduced two bills that would work to combat human trafficking.

The Countering Human Trafficking Act will make the Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) permanent.

The CCHT oversees the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to combat human trafficking as well as importation of products that are made with forced labor. The Center additionally ensures the Department is leveraging and coordinating its capabilities and resources to fight back against traffickers.

The bill would allow the CCHT to grow their permanent staff with Special Agents, criminal analysts, and others. The Center will be able to modernize its systems and operations to support worldwide investigations on human trafficking and forced labor in supply chains, and bolster efforts to protect human trafficking victims.

Finally, the legislation will also expand and improve national public awareness and law enforcement training initiatives to boost efforts to counter trafficking.

The DHS Blue Campaign Enhancement Act requires the Director of the Blue Campaign to develop online, interactive training videos and other web-based training opportunities for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement officers.

The interactive trainings will help raise public awareness about the indicators of human trafficking and ensure law enforcement can respond quickly and effectivity.

The bill will establish a Blue Campaign Advisory Board in DHS, which will consult with the Director the Blue Campaign on the development of awareness tools for distribution to partners that will help them identify and prevent instances of human trafficking. 

The bill is a Senate companion to legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Peter Meijer (R-MI) and Lou Correa (D-CA).

Based on calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the Polaris Project found that in 2019 there were at least 14,597 sex trafficking victims and survivors in the United States.

According to Peters, the actual number of these crimes may be much larger because these crimes often go unreported.

The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission says that an extremely high number of 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. 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.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters

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