Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member, for the Markup of HR 5422, A Bill “To Ensure Funding for the National Human Trafficking Hotline,” by the Committee on the Judiciary

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
H.R. 5422 is a bipartisan measure intended to ensure funding for the National Human Trafficking Hotline. 

This commonsense bill would direct funding to the Department of Health and Human Services to administer the grant money for this Hotline.

The crime of human trafficking is a terrible scourge that deprives people of their dignity, humanity, and freedom.

Men, women, and children are held against their will. They are often repeatedly beaten, starved, drugged, and forced to perform unspeakable acts under the threat of more brutality against themselves or their loved ones.

Unfortunately, this awful crime continues to grow and spread because many victims are unable or afraid to leave those who hold them captive. Those who are able to escape their captors often fear retribution if they cooperate with law enforcement.

One mechanism Congress established to help the victims of trafficking is the 24-hour, national Hotline operated by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
The Hotline provides critical care and attends to the needs of victims and survivors of human trafficking in the United States, its territories, and in more than 200 languages. 

The Resource Center connects victims to services they need immediately -- such as legal advice and safe havens – and to services that can help them recover, including counselors and medical providers. 

The Center not only handles calls from potential trafficking victims, but also from law enforcement officers and officials, medical and legal professionals, legislators, and community members seeking to combat human trafficking.

In 2015, the Center responded to more than 5,500 cases of human trafficking and received approximately 1,500 online reports of suspected human trafficking.

H.R. 5422 simply corrects an error created by an inadvertent change in the funding source for the Hotline made by the Justice for Victims Act of 2015, which mistakenly directed funding for the Hotline to the Justice Department instead of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is the agency actually responsible for funding the Hotline.  

I fully support H.R. 5422 and commend my colleagues – the gentlemen from the State of Texas, Mr. Poe, and the gentlelady also from the State of Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee -- for their diligent work on this bill and other efforts to combat human trafficking.

As we look forward to the next Congress, I hope we will continue to find common ground on issues of mutual concern and work together to enact bipartisan bills such as this one.  

Therefore, I urge adoption of this bill today and yield back the balance of my time.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

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