July 16, 2014. Last night, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced theHuman Trafficking Detection Act,H.R. 5116, along with House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). 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 one of the great tragedies of our time. Congress must act to do whatever it can to halt the illegal flow of smuggled humans through the U.S.,” Congressman Meadows said.
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.
“Children, in particular, are targets for human traffickers,” Meadows noted. “Making sure that employees who directly interface with potential traffickers and victims are equipped with the proper skillset to identify human trafficking is extremely important and could save lives,” Meadows added.
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.