Representative Kristi Noem today helped lead the U.S. House of Representatives in passing S.178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act – a sweeping bipartisan anti-trafficking bill that includes provisions Noem authored.
“Human trafficking is an issue that many see as removed from themselves, their families and their communities,” said Noem. “The reality is, however, that trafficking is occurring in our backyards, at schools near our homes, and on websites that our kids frequent. These words are not intended to cause unnecessary alarm, but to bring into perspective that it isn’t just happening overseas or in communities far away from our own. It’s happening across this country – even in South Dakota.”
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act represents one of the largest anti-trafficking measures passed through Congress in a decade. With final congressional approval from the House, the legislation is now headed to the President’s desk.
“Today, there are only about 200 beds for underage sex trafficking victims in the United States,” said Noem. “One of the provisions within this bill, which is language I wrote, would ensure shelters can get access to more resources in order to provide safe housing for those trying to escape and recover from trafficking. Passing this provision and the dozens of others contained in S.178 has given both chambers of Congress the opportunity to stand together in opposition to this kind of modern-day slavery. I strongly urge President Obama to sign this legislation quickly and take one more step in the journey toward ending trafficking.”
Rep. Noem’s language that was included in S.178 was first introduced as the Human Trafficking, Prevention, Intervention and Recovery Act in 2014. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives in both 2014 and 2015 and the U.S. Senate in 2015. The Congresswoman’s legislation takes a three-pronged approach in combatting human trafficking:
- Improves existing Department of Justice grants, ensuring the grants support shelters for survivors. Currently, there are just 200 beds available in the United States for underage victims.
- Launches a review by the Interagency Task-Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking that will look into federal and state trafficking prevention activities. The review will be done in consultation with nongovernmental organizations and will work to identify and develop best practices to prevent trafficking.
- Requires an inventory of existing federal anti-trafficking efforts by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to make sure all federal agencies and programs work together and that federal resources are being targeted where needed.