Rep. Titus Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Fight Human Trafficking

Feb 2, 2016
Press Release

February 2, 2016
Contact: Kyle Roerink
Phone: (202)-657-3219

Washington, DC – Today Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District introduced the Secure our Skies (SOS) Act, legislation requiring training for airline industry employees to recognize and report human trafficking. The legislation follows a national uptick in human trafficking and a groundswell of support from airline employees wanting to combat these crimes that often occur right in front of the public’s eyes.

“These crimes don’t just happen on the ground and they are just as hard to spot in the sky,” said Rep. Titus, a ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation. “The SOS Act will help to close off the nation’s skies to perpetrators of these heinous crimes by providing training to airline professionals who are in the best position to recognize and report the signs of human trafficking. We all have a role to play in stopping human trafficking, and this legislation will ensure our airline personnel can spot the signs and stop the crimes.”

“It is critical that we are ever vigilant in the fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking,” Rep. Comstock said. “Every day, flight attendants see and interact with children on the thousands of flights across our country and throughout the world.  They are the eyes and ears in this constant battle, and this legislation will give them the tools to save the most vulnerable in our society and fight this terrible scourge. I want to thank Congresswoman Titus for working in a bipartisan manner on this important legislation.”  

"Many Flight Attendants have witnessed something that just didn't feel right on their flight, but without the proper tools to act,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA . “No more. As aviation’s first responders, for a window of time, we can see it, report it and law enforcement can bring justice. The SOS Act will help us close the skies to human traffickers. Representative Titus has been an immediate and steadfast advocate to help ensure we can save lives with 100,000 trained eyes in the skies. We are proud to work with her."

The SOS Act builds on the work of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Transportation campaign called Blue Lightning. This voluntary training program for airlines personnel was established in 2013. Under the SOS Act, airlines and contractors must develop training materials for their employees that includes common indicators of human trafficking and best practices for reporting suspected cases to law enforcement.

According to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, 21 million people worldwide, including 5.5 million children, are reported victims of human trafficking. Cases in the United States are increasing with an estimated 17,500 people subject to sex and labor trafficking every year. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center, a national hotline, reported a 10% increase in reported cases in 2015, with 6,000 cases being reported.

Nevada is among the leading states for cases of reported human trafficking. In 2013, there were 81 reported cases of trafficking. In 2015, those numbers increased to 133 reported cases, a quarter of which involved children under 18. Of those 133 reported cases, 114 involved sexual exploitation.

Rep. Titus is advocating for this training to be included in the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill scheduled to be considered this year by Congress.