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Jaime Herrera Beutler, U.S. House Move Quickly to Tackle Sex Trafficking and Aid Victims

During first month of new congress, Jaime helps House pass 12 bills to confront $32 Billion trafficking industry

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Washington, DC, January 27, 2015 | comments
Jaime Herrera Beutler joined with a strong majority of her colleagues to pass twelve bipartisan bills both last evening and today aimed at stopping domestic and international sex trafficking, and to strengthen protections and assistance for trafficking victims.
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Jaime Herrera Beutler joined with a strong majority of her colleagues to pass twelve bipartisan bills both last evening and today aimed at stopping domestic and international sex trafficking, and to strengthen protections and assistance for trafficking victims.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed this group of anti-trafficking bills as one of its first actions in the 114th Congress to confront the fastest growing form of organized crime in the world, now representing a $32 billion industry. Jaime is a cosponsor of 11 out of 12 of these bills that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“The fact that this has become the largest form of organized crime demonstrates that we must be aggressive in the fight to stop trafficking,” said Jaime. “I’m pleased to be part of making anti-trafficking legislation one of the first priorities of this Congress. Unfortunately, this form of modern-day slavery is an epidemic that reaches right into our backyard. For instance, Washington’s Supreme Court has a case against Backpage.com, a website that exploits young girls and boys right here at home. I’ll keep working to ensure Congress closes legal loopholes for predatory websites, make sure that the law is on the side of victims, and gives law enforcement the tools they need to go after traffickers. We need this legislation so that our nation’s laws work for victims, not against them.”

The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act would make it illegal for Backpage.com and similar websites to knowingly advertise sex with minors and give the courts tools to prosecute actors in sex trafficking online marketplaces. Approximately 76 percent of transactions for sex with minors happen online through websites like Backpage.com. These websites currently use the Communications Decency Act, a law intended to protect free speech, to shield themselves from liability for advertising minors for sex on their sites. Because of the profitability of the industry and loopholes in federal law, there has been resistance by these sites to end their facilitation of trafficking.

Below are summaries of the additional 11 bills passed this week.

1) H.R. 514 - Human Trafficking Prioritization Act
• Elevates the status of the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons from an office to a bureau and puts pressure on other countries to combat sex trafficking.

2) H.R. 515 - International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking

• Combats sex tourism, where child-sex offenders travel domestically or to other countries for the purpose of purchasing sex with children. The bill directs Homeland Security to notify foreign governments when U.S. citizens who are confirmed child sex offenders travel to their countries. The bill also urges President Obama to negotiate agreements with foreign governments on this issue so the U.S. will know when child-sex offenders are seeking U.S. entry.

3) H.R. 357 - Human Trafficking Prevention Act

• Requires training for federal personnel who come into contact with trafficking.

4) H.R. 468 - Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims for Youth Trafficking Act of 2015

• Allows the Department of Health and Human Services to use street outreach programs to identify and help homeless youth and move them off the streets.

5) H.R. 469 - Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015

• Ensures every state has updated child welfare policies and trains child welfare workers to better identify and assess child victims of trafficking.

6) H.R. 246 - To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking Act of 2015

• Changes the language used in the reporting categories of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s to include “child sex trafficking” to ensure that children who were previously reported as “child prostitutes” are now treated as victims and not criminals.

7) H.R. 398 - Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015

• Educate and equip healthcare professionals to recognize signs of human trafficking so they can intercede on patients’ behalf.

8) H.R. 460 - Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015

• Directs training for the Department of Homeland Security personnel to effectively deter, detect, disrupt, and prevent human trafficking.

9) H.R. 350 - Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015

• Allows existing Department of Justice grants to be used for emergency housing for trafficking victims.
• Uses a three part approach of prevention, integrated law enforcement and strengthened resources.

10) H.R. 159 - Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act of 2015, as amended

• Encourages states to pass safe-harbor laws that treat minors involved in child sex trafficking as victims, not criminals, and encourage law enforcement to direct victims toward child protective services for help. It also increases federal, state and local cooperation in investigating trafficking cases and going after buyers and pimps.

11) H.R. 181 - Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015,

• Focuses on tracking down and prosecuting criminals involved in all aspects of sex trafficking. The bill ensures additional resources go to victims of human trafficking, and authorizes grants for law enforcement training, deterrence programs, and restorative care for victims.
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