WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has joined Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) as the lead Democrat in introducing the Human Trafficking Detection Act, H.R. 5116, along with House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).
This bill would require Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents responsible for monitoring travelers across U.S. borders and through airports receive training to identify potential victims of human trafficking and report these cases to local law enforcement officials. The bill will also require the DHS to annually report to Congress the number of potential human trafficking cases reported by its federal agents.
“Human trafficking is an atrocious crime that is often committed right under our noses. It is our responsibility in Congress to do whatever we can to stop illegal smuggling of innocent people, often children, through the United States,” said Rep. Sanchez. “This bill will give Homeland Security officials the training they need to identify trafficking victims and save lives.”
Up to 17,500 people are trafficked through the United States each year—half of which are children, according to the State Department. But currently, only some DHS officials receive training to detect human trafficking, which often times merely consists of viewing an online slideshow. DHS doesn’t currently keep records of the number of human trafficking cases reported or confirmed, which the Human Trafficking Detection act would require.
The U.S. federal government currently spends billions of dollars annually on human trafficking prevention and treatment. This simple solution could significantly impact the success of those efforts without increasing federal spending.