Sioux Falls, S.D. (KELO AM) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Kristi Noem’s bipartisan Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act (H.R.5135). The legislation works to better prevent and intervene when trafficking or attempted trafficking occurs while also opening up additional resources for survivors who are working to recover.
“At the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, during hunting season, in Indian Country, on the streets behind our schools, people are preying on vulnerable South Dakotans. They’re preying on our kids,” said Rep. Noem. “We have to do everything we can to protect young people from this unconscionable industry. And when we fail to prevent trafficking, we have a responsibility to intervene and help survivors recover. I am thrilled to see the House move so quickly to pass this legislation, which addresses both prevention and recovery, and urge the Senate to bring the legislation to the floor without delay.”
“This legislation reflects much of what groups like Be Free Ministries have spoken to Rep. Noem about during her summits and roundtables across the state,” said Dr. Kimberly Kaveny, Executive Director of Be Free Ministries in Sioux Falls. “While it aims to give us a stronger sense of how we can prevent children from becoming trafficking victims, it also fills one of the most dire needs for survivors – that is support for housing. I am grateful to Rep. Noem for taking our feedback and writing legislation to address these concerns. There is a lot of work to do, but this is a strong step forward.”
Rep. Noem’s legislation, which has been endorsed by Shared Hope International, Polaris Project and Human Rights Project for Girls, takes a three-pronged approach in combating human trafficking:
- 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.
- Improves existing Department of Justice grants, allowing the grants to also support shelters for survivors. Currently, there are just 200 beds available in the United States for underage victims.
Rep. Noem has been a long-time leader on the issue of combatting trafficking in Congress. Noem currently serves on a congressional task force in charge of developing stronger legislative solutions and has been invited to participate in a congressional appropriations hearing on the issue. In May 2014, Rep. Noem helped lead the U.S. House of Representatives in passing a comprehensive package of bills that allocates more resources for survivors, offers more tools to go after traffickers and those that solicit the services of a trafficked individual, and puts policies in place that lawmakers hope will better prevent trafficking.