Washington, DC – Today Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), and Ann Wagner (R-MO) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to bolster the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to combat human trafficking. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and James Lankford (R-OK) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
As part of Rep. Titus’s yearslong efforts in Congress on this issue, the IMPACTT Human Trafficking Act would establish and expand the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Victim Assistance Program administered through DHS to provide vital services to victims of human trafficking, and would also provide support to federal investigators who undergo trauma and prolonged stress through their own efforts to eradicate human trafficking.
“Like other major transportation hubs across the U.S., Las Vegas is plagued by human trafficking, and I’ve worked throughout my tenure in Congress to provide law enforcement with the resources they need to combat it,” said Rep. Titus. “Critically, my IMPACTT Human Trafficking Act will also support victims through every step in the process of bringing human traffickers to justice. Victims must not be treated like criminals.”
“I am proud to reintroduce this legislation to provide human trafficking survivors and law enforcement officers with the resources required to combat these horrific offenses. Human trafficking affects communities in Ohio and across our country, where traffickers threaten, deceive, and use manipulative tactics to force people into modern day slavery. I am committed to doing everything I can to stop these crimes from taking place and ensuring that survivors receive the specialized support they need, while also providing law enforcement officers with additional resources to protect themselves and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Rep. Joyce.
“Today, Michigan has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the country, and it is critical that Congress give law enforcement the tools it needs to fight this despicable crime on all fronts,” said Rep. Slotkin. “This is a vital piece of legislation that will expand the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to train specialized investigators, while also providing support and resources to both victims of human trafficking and the DHS staff that work on these challenging cases. And while this bill is an important step, I look forward to working with my Democrat and Republican colleagues to vigorously confront the issue of human trafficking and its perpetrators.”
“Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of working closely with Homeland Security investigators on the frontlines of the fight against human trafficking and child exploitation. The work these brave men and women do—locating, rescuing, and assisting victims—is truly extraordinary,” said Rep. Wagner. “This bill will give investigators the support they need to continue handling such traumatic crimes and includes my legislation to expand the Homeland Security Investigations Victim Assistance Program. This vital program helps survivors of trafficking and child exploitation gain access to available resources available while also assisting law enforcement in apprehending their trafficker. Trafficking and child exploitation are on the rise in the United States, and we must ensure law enforcement has the tools and support necessary to combat these barbaric crimes and protect the most vulnerable among us.”
“Human trafficking not only leaves deep, traumatic scars on its victims, but it also impacts the dedicated professionals who are responsible for investigating these crimes,” said Sen. Peters. “This bipartisan legislation will help increase support for victims who are recovering from these horrific crimes and ensure that Homeland Security Investigations agents, victim assistance specialists, and others who work with human trafficking victims have the support they need to effectively do their jobs.”
“Human trafficking along our southern border is at an all-time high, and the problem is only getting worse. Battling cartels, abuse, and trauma, human trafficking survivors have been through enough. It’s critical that survivors – along with the professionals helping them – have access to the resources they need to get the justice and closure they deserve. This bipartisan effort will make that a reality and continue the work to end human trafficking,” said Sen. Lankford.
The IMPACTT Human Trafficking Act:
- Requires Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), through the IMPACTT program, to provide self-awareness training to employees on recognizing the signs of burnout, compassion fatigue, critical incident stress, traumatic stress, posttraumatic stress, secondary traumatic stress, and vicarious trauma.
- Ensures training includes mechanisms of self-care, resilience, and resources available through the employee assistance program.
- Provides victim support and referral to services throughout the investigative and prosecutorial process.
- Requires training to increase identification of victims and referrals for investigation.
- Requires training regarding victims’ rights, victim-related policies, roles of forensic interviewers and victim assistance specialists, through an approach that is victim-centered, trauma informed, and linguistically appropriate.
- Provides forensic interview support that is essential to successful investigations and ensures the least amount of retraumatization of victims.
- Provides for emergency purchases of items needed to assist recovered victims.
Congresswoman Titus’s efforts to combat human trafficking include leading the effort to require all airlines to have staff training on human trafficking, advocating for measures to block convicted human traffickers from working in commercial transportation, and championing local efforts to provide more resources for victims. As one example, in July 2016 the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) short-term extension bill included language from her Secure Our Skies Act. This provision required airlines and contractors to develop training materials for their employees to spot common indicators of human trafficking and offer best practices for reporting suspected cases to law enforcement.