The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed legislation intended to assist human trafficking victims by encouraging more victim-centered approaches to arrests, prosecutions, and the provision of services and assistance to persons who are or who may be the victims of human trafficking. This week’s House floor action is set to occur in connection with H.R. 507, the "Put Trafficking Victims First Act of 2019", The House passed the measure on Thursday, February 7, 2019., by a vote of 410-1.. The sole Member voting against the measure was Representative Justin Amash (R-MI).
The bill also would amend the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 to modify requirements with respect to the allocation of trafficking victim services grant funds for training and technical assistance. More specifically, it would require training and technical assistance to be provided in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, it would broaden the areas of training and technical assistance to include, among others, investigating, prosecuting, and preventing human trafficking through a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach.
The measure would require the National Institute of Justice to establish a working group to identify and recommend best practices for collecting data on human trafficking; report on efforts to develop methodologies to determine the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States; and coordinate with federal, state, local, and tribal governments, and private organizations, to survey survivors to estimate the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States.
The measure also would require that the Department of Justice report on efforts to increase mandatory restitution orders and asset forfeiture to provide restitution to victims of trafficking. And the bill would encourage states to implement certain protections for victims of trafficking.
Next Steps. Now that the House has passed H.R. 507, the next step in the legislative process is its consideration by the Senate. At the time of this writing, no timetable for Senate action on the measure had yet been determined.