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F. S.
Republican WI 5

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  • Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015

    by Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.

    Posted on 2015-01-27

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    SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 350) to direct the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to identify strategies to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking and review trafficking prevention efforts, to protect and assist in the recovery of victims of trafficking, and for other purposes.



    The Clerk read the title of the bill.

    The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 350 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE REPORT ON CHILD TRAFFICKING PRIMARY PREVENTION.

    (a) Review.--The Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, established under section 105 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7103), shall conduct a review that, with regard to trafficking in persons in the United States-- (1) in consultation with nongovernmental organizations that the Task Force determines appropriate, surveys and catalogues the activities of the Federal Government and State governments to deter individuals from committing trafficking offenses and to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking; (2) surveys academic literature on deterring individuals from committing trafficking offenses, preventing children from becoming victims of trafficking, the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and other similar topics that the Task Force determines appropriate; (3) identifies best practices and effective strategies to deter individuals from committing trafficking offenses and to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking; and (4) identifies current gaps in research and data that would be helpful in formulating effective strategies to deter individuals from committing trafficking offenses and to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking.

    (b) Report.--Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking shall provide to Congress, and make publicly available in electronic format, a report on the review conducted pursuant to subparagraph (a).

    SEC. 3. GAO REPORT ON INTERVENTION.

    On the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report, which shall include-- (1) information on the efforts of Federal and select State law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking in the United States; and (2) information on each Federal grant program, a purpose of which is to combat [[Page H590]] human trafficking or assist victims of trafficking, as specified in an authorizing statute or in a guidance document issued by the agency carrying out the grant program.

    SEC. 4. PROVISION OF HOUSING PERMITTED TO PROTECT AND ASSIST IN THE RECOVERY OF VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING.

    Section 107(b)(2)(A) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7105(b)(2)(A)) is amended by inserting before the period at the end the following: ``, including programs that provide housing to victims of trafficking''.

    SEC. 5. VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING DEFINED.

    In this Act, the term ``victim of trafficking'' has the meaning given such term in section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7102).

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee) each will control 20 minutes.

    The Speaker recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin.

    General Leave Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on H.R. 350, currently under consideration.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Wisconsin? There was no objection.

    Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Madam Speaker, I rise today in favor of H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015 introduced by Representative Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

    As we have heard on the floor repeatedly this week, human trafficking generally and child sex trafficking specifically is a horrible crime that sadly exists in all corners of our country. Studies suggest that over 290,000 youth are at risk of human trafficking in the United States, with children as young as 12 years old becoming victims of commercial sexual abuse. While Federal, State, and local law enforcement have made great strides to combat and eradicate human trafficking, there remains work to be done on this front.

    As in all things, to effectively combat human trafficking, we must first fully understand the problem. H.R. 350 requires the existing Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to survey and catalogue the methods being employed by our Federal and State governments to deter individuals from committing trafficking offenses and to report on best practices that can improve the response. The bill also directs the Government Accountability Office to report on Federal and State efforts to fight trafficking, including the grant programs aimed at assisting victims and fighting this crime.

    Finally, in order to help young victims move on from their trauma, H.R. 350 clarifies that existing Federal trafficking grants may be used for programs that provide housing for victims of sex trafficking. Currently, 29 States do not have shelter beds dedicated to the victims of sex trafficking. This provision would help address that travesty.

    Similar legislation was passed in the House last Congress but was not enacted into law.

    I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle here and on the other side of the Capitol to pass this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

    House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC, January 26, 2015.

    Hon. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.

    Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for consulting with the Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015. As a result of those consultations, I agree that the Foreign Affairs Committee may be discharged from further consideration of that bill, so that it may proceed expeditiously to the House floor.

    I am writing to confirm our mutual understanding that, by forgoing consideration of H.R. 350, the Foreign Affairs Committee does not waive jurisdiction over the subject matter contained in this, or any other, legislation. Our Committee also reserves the right to seek an appropriate number of conferees to any House-Senate conference involving this bill, and would appreciate your support for any such request.

    I ask that a copy of our exchange of letters on this matter be included in the Congressional Record during floor consideration of H.R. 350.

    Sincerely, Edward R. Royce, Chairman.

    ____ House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC, January 26, 2015.

    Hon. Ed Royce, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.

    Dear Chairman Royce, Thank you for your letter regarding H.R. 350, the ``Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015.'' As you noted, the Committee on Foreign Affairs was granted an additional referral of the bill.

    I am most appreciative of your decision to discharge the Committee on Foreign Affairs from further consideration of H.R. 350 so that it could proceed expeditiously to the House floor. I acknowledge that although you waived formal consideration of the bill, the Committee on the Foreign Affairs is in no way waiving its jurisdiction over the subject matter contained in those provisions of the bill that fall within your rule X jurisdiction. I would support your effort to seek appointment of an appropriate number of conferees on any House-Senate conference involving this legislation.

    I will include a copy of our letters in the Congressional Record during consideration of H.R. 350.

    Sincerely, Bob Goodlatte, Chairman.

    Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    I rise in support of H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015.

    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, sex trafficking is the fastest growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world. The scourge of our society is estimated to be a $9 billion industry in the United States and as much as a $30 billion industry worldwide.

    All of the criminals and all of those who wish to do wrong realize that it is a bigger and better business than drugs because, tragically and unfortunately and with great sadness, they use their product over and over again. They use these innocent persons, many women, many children, many boys, over and over again.

    Because this criminal activity rarely occurs in public view, it is difficult to say exactly how many children are being victimized. What we do know, however, is that the problem is extensive. All you have to do is walk along any of the streets of major cities and find homeless teenagers, or even younger than that, and you will find out that in some way they have been tainted and touched and brutalized by sex trafficking.

    Madam Speaker, an estimated 290,000 American children are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that one of every seven endangered runaways who reported to the center are likely victims of minor sex trafficking.

    I am told that the average age of minors entering the sex trade is between 12 and 14 years old. Vulnerable youth are primary targets. They are more easily lured into prostitution and other forms of child exploitation, while runaways and children in foster care are especially vulnerable. Child victims of sex trafficking can and do come from a type of home or socioeconomic background that makes them particularly, if you will, in the line of fire.

    The bottom line, however, Madam Speaker, is that all of these children are deserving of rescue, recovery, protection, and shelter. One of the advocacies that I had in my own hometown was to provide for children in foster care that had aged out, because those are likely victims, unbeknownst to themselves, and they are worthy of saving.

    The bill before us, H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015, is an important step toward pursuing traffickers and those who solicit the services of trafficked individuals. It mandates a review of Federal and State prevention activities by the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, and this review is to be done in consultation with nongovernmental organizations. That is a great partnership.

    The purpose of this review is to identify best practices in the prevention of [[Page H591]] trafficking. This study, along with the mandated GAO, will provide much-needed intelligence to be shared among those Federal, State, and local agencies dedicated to combating sex trafficking.

    And might I add, Madam Speaker, that what is also needed is a commitment, an investment of resources, to not just have the studies but to make sure that we match the importance of this legislation with resources.

    Witnesses testified at a Homeland Security Committee field hearing in Houston in March of last year, which I convened and brought Members of Congress to Houston for, which has a particularly serious problem.

    First, one of the biggest limitations on the ability of area law enforcement agencies to successfully combat human trafficking in and around Houston is a lack of data sharing. Another witness said we-- local enforcement--need the Feds to build a Houston trafficking regional database accessible only to vice and human trafficking personnel to store, share, and search data on all aspects of Houston- area human trafficking investigations.

    {time} 1245 Madam Speaker, the need for the information that will be collected by the GAO study and the Interagency Task Force to monitor and combat trafficking is not only needed, it is long overdue.

    This bill also addresses a major concern that anti-trafficking advocates have shared with me--the lack of housing or shelter for survivors. Trafficked kids need a way out, someplace to escape. Without such refuge, these children will return to their traffickers, and their traffickers will be waiting for them. This bill provides funding for local shelters so they get the support they need to house survivors and to get these young people started on the path to recovery.

    Today, we are considering several bills that address domestic minor sex trafficking, and it is right that we do all we can to protect our children. Most statistics indicate that the average age of a female when she is first victimized in human trafficking is a very young year of age. With this fact alone, we can understand why the majority of Federal investigations and prosecutions of trafficking involve minors. One of the statements we made on the floor today with all of these bills is that the minors are victims--they are not the criminals--and they need to be saved. That is what we are committing to.

    I will share with you the testimony of another witness at last year's field hearing. The witness said: Many of the females my officers are encountering on the streets, in the massage parlors, at the strip clubs, and on the Internet sites are typically 18 to 21. We know from experience that, while these young women may be adults now, they have, with all likelihood, been under the control of a pimp trafficker for many years.

    Madam Speaker, I met those women. Yes, they have been under the horrible domination of these traffickers for many years, and some were sold by their parents. We need to take definitive steps to ensure that this group of victims does not fall through the cracks because we are focusing on the minors. We do this by ensuring that the laws we pass and the supportive assistance we establish are also available to these older young women.

    In closing, Madam Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act. I compliment the sponsors and cosponsors, and I encourage them to remember that there are still those other victims of human trafficking who are equally deserving of our consideration and protection. While we will accomplish much in combating human trafficking by our actions today, let us commit ourselves to doing more.

    Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 350, the ``Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention and Recovery Act of 2015.'' According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, sex trafficking is the fastest growing business of organized crime, and the third largest criminal enterprise in the world. This scourge of our society is estimated to be a $9.8 billion industry in the United States and as much as a $30 billion industry worldwide. Because this criminal activity rarely occurs in public view, it is difficult to say exactly how many children are being victimized. What we do know, however, is that the problem is extensive.

    Madam Speaker, an estimated 290,000 American children are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that one of every seven endangered runaways reported to the Center are likely victims of minor sex trafficking. I am told that the average age of minors entering the sex trade is between 12 and 14 years. Vulnerable youth are primary targets. They are more easily lured into prostitution and other forms of child exploitation, and while runaways and children in foster care are especially vulnerable, child victims of sex trafficking can and do come from any type of home or socioeconomic background.

    The bottom line, however, Madam Speaker, is that all of these children are deserving of rescue, recovery, protection and shelter. The bill before us, H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking, Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015, is an important step toward pursuing traffickers and those who solicit the services of trafficked individuals. It mandates a review of federal and state prevention activities by the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, and this review is to be done in consultation with nongovernmental organizations. The purpose of this review is to identify best practices in the prevention of trafficking. This study, along with the mandated GAO will provide much-needed intelligence to be shared among those federal, state and local agencies dedicated to combatting sex trafficking.

    Witnesses at a Homeland Security Committee field hearing held in Houston in March of last year testified, First, one of the biggest limitations on the ability of area law enforcement agencies to successfully combat Human Trafficking in and around Houston is our lack of data sharing.

    Another witness stated, We (local law enforcement) need the feds to build a Houston Trafficking Regional Database, accessible only to Vice/Human Trafficking personnel to store, share, and search data on all aspects of Houston area Human Trafficking investigations.

    Madam Speaker, the need for the information that will be collected by the GAO study and the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking is not only needed. It is long overdue! This bill also addresses a major concern that anti-trafficking advocates have shared with me--the lack of housing or shelter for survivors. Trafficked kids need a way out, some place to escape to. Without such a refuge, these children will return to their traffickers. This bill provides the funding for local shelters to get the support they need to house survivors and get these young people started on the path to recovery.

    Madam Speaker, today we are considering several bills that address domestic minor sex trafficking, and it is right that we do all we can to protect our children. Most statistics indicate that the average age of a female when she is first victimized into Human Trafficking is years old. For this fact alone, we can understand why the majority of federal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking involve minors.

    I must share with you, however, the testimony of another witness at last year's field Houston field hearing. That witness said, . . . (many of the females that my officers are encountering on the streets, in the massage parlors and strip clubs, and on the internet sites are typically age 18-21. We know from experience that while these young women may be adults now, they have, in all likelihood been under the control of a pimp/trafficker for many years. We need to take definitive steps to ensure that this group of `victims' does not fall through the cracks because we are focusing on the minors by ensuring that the laws we pass and the support/ assistance we establish is also available to these young women.

    In closing, Madam Speaker I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking, Prevention, Intervention and Recovery Act of 2015, and I encourage them to remember that there are still those other victims of human trafficking who are equally deserving of our consideration and protection. While we will accomplish much in combating human trafficking by our actions today, there is still much more to be done.

    I reserve the balance of my time.

    Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield such time as she may consume to the gentlewoman from South Dakota (Mrs. Noem), the author of this bill.

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