Senate Bill Would Aid Victims of Human Trafficking, Enhance Law Enforcement Tools

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding bipartisan legislation designed to tackle human trafficking:

“Deep in shadow, there’s a specter that haunts our country.

“In dark corners, it claims thousands of victims every year.

“Quietly. Stealthily. Maliciously.

“It’s hard for many Americans to believe that human trafficking could happen where they live.

“But it does.

“Right here in the United States. All 50 of them.

“And many of these victims are children.

“In Kentucky alone, the commonwealth has been able to identify more than 100 victims since it began keeping relevant records in 2013. And while this kind of abuse often begins around the age of 13 or 14, there have been reports of victims in Kentucky as young as 2 months old.

“It’s just about the most morally offensive thing you could imagine.

“These victims need a voice. They need justice. And the new Congress is determined to give them both.

“That’s just what the bill we’re considering this week, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, aims to do.

“I want to thank Senator Cornyn for his hard work on this legislation. He has been a tireless advocate for it.

“I also want to note that this legislation has always been a bipartisan exercise. I want to thank the thirteen Democratic co-sponsors of this bill.

“It’s a bill that received a hearing in the Judiciary Committee earlier this year, and was reported without a single negative vote.

“It has been thoroughly vetted and carefully crafted, which explains its record of bipartisan support in the Senate. It also explains the long list of endorsements outside the Senate, with organizations such as Shared Hope International, Rights4Girls, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children among its many supporters.

“Here’s what one of the broad coalitions backing this bill had to say about it:  ‘The [Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act] provides unprecedented support to domestic victims of trafficking, who are too often invisible and underserved,’ they wrote. ‘This legislation is vital.’

“So I hope, now that it has been brought to the floor, that this bill will continue to enjoy its strong record of constructive bipartisan support

“It’s similar to a measure that already passed the House of Representatives.

“The version before us also contains some additional provisions too.

“For instance, Senator Portman has offered ideas to improve the way we find missing kids and to strengthen law-enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute those who commit sex trafficking crimes.

“It’s good to see such a strong and bipartisan piece of legislation.

“Because victims of human trafficking should be treated like victims, not criminals.

“Because they should have the services and resources they need to rebuild their lives.

“And because law enforcement should have the tools it needs to protect them, and to combat these crimes.

“This bill aims to ensure these things happen.

“And I look forward to the Senate’s good work to pass it.”

Related Issues: Combating Sex Trafficking