Rep. Esty, Katko Introduce Bipartisan Anti-Human Trafficking Bills
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) and Congressman John Katko (NY-24) introduced two bipartisan bills in the U.S. House of Representatives to combat human trafficking. Both bills were recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Thune (R-SD) and Klobuchar (D-MN), and have passed out of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
The Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act focuses on preventing human trafficking. The bill would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation and increase outreach, education, and reporting efforts at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The bill is supported by Truckers Against Trafficking, National District Attorneys Association, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and ECPAT-USA.
The No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act would disqualify individuals from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for their lifetime if they used a CMV to commit a felony involving human trafficking.“Human trafficking is an inhumane crime, and is occurring in communities all over our state and throughout America. All too often human trafficking is swept under the rug, assumed to be a crime that happens somewhere else to someone else. As I learned when a human trafficking ring was arrested in my hometown, anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, regardless of race, age, gender, or socio-economic status. I am proud to work with my friend and colleague Republican Rep. John Katko to address this often-invisible but incredibly harmful crime. Our bipartisan bills will empower the U.S. Department of Transportation to combat human trafficking by giving them the tools they need to stop criminals in their tracks across our nation’s transportation network,” Esty said.
As a former organized crime prosecutor on both the northern border at home in New York and on the southern border in El Paso, Texas, I’ve seen firsthand the horrors of human trafficking. As Central New York’s representative in Congress, I’ve remained engaged locally and worked together with our federal and local law enforcement and community stakeholders to continue to address this issue,” said Rep. Katko. “Often, human traffickers take advantage of our nation’s transportation systems to transport their victims, and the U.S. Department of Transportation and the transportation industry play a critical role in preventing and stopping these heinous exploitations. I’m proud to join with my colleague on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Esty, to introduce two comprehensive measures today to help recognize and prevent the crime of human trafficking.”
Both measures have garnered support from organizations that combat human trafficking.
“We applaud efforts to promote a coordinated response to human trafficking and penalize individuals who use a CMV to commit this crime," Jillian Gilchrest, Chair of Connecticut's Trafficking in Persons Council and Director of Health Professional Outreach at Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), said. "Increased risk and consequence are the biggest deterrence for those committing human trafficking and this proposal has the potential to prevent future exploitation. We thank Representative Esty for her leadership on this important issue."
According to International Labour Organization, more than 20 million men, women, and children are victimized by forced labor and sex trafficking worldwide, with 300,000 children annually trafficked in the United States alone. In a 2016 WNPR report, Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families testified during a panel discussiion that, since 2006, there have been 432 underage victims of human trafficking.