Blumenthal & Hawley Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Fight Human Trafficking As COVID-19 Pandemic Worsens Crisis

[WASHINGTON, DC] – With human trafficking on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the bipartisan Leveraging Information on Foreign Traffickers (LIFT) Act to combat modern day slavery. This legislation supports survivor-centered efforts to monitor and prevent trafficking, and improves the U.S. Department of State’s ability to gather information on this crime. U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) are lead cosponsors of this bicameral legislation in the House and introduced the House version of the bill in January.

“This bipartisan measure mobilizes survivors and better information to fight human trafficking,” said Blumenthal. “It seeks to stop modern day slavery, even as the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating it. The increasing urgency of protecting innocent victims — before they are ensnared by traffickers — should make the LIFT Act a priority.”

“Human trafficking, modern day slavery, is an evil that reaches into every corner of the world. We must fight until it is eradicated,” said Hawley. “This legislation equips the State Department and the survivor-led Advisory Council on Human Trafficking with new resources to monitor and combat trafficking wherever it exists.”

Key provisions of the LIFT Act include:

  • Extending the Advisory Council on Human Trafficking (Council) by four years. The Council is a nongovernmental body that advises the State Department and other federal entities, and reviews federal efforts to monitor and prevent trafficking.
  • Authorizing Council members who are trafficking survivors to be compensated for their time.
  • Ensuring that the Trafficking in Persons Office at the State Department receives timely information on visa denials for reasons related to human trafficking to improve coordination and communication.
  • Extending the deadline for the federal government’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report from June 1 to June 30 to avoid straining the State Department’s resources.

The legislation has been endorsed by Humanity United Action and the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST).

“The U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking is an important body consisting of survivors of human trafficking who advise the U.S. government on federal anti-trafficking policies and programs,” said Humanity United Action Senior Advisor Corban Teague. “It is critical that we elevate the voices of trafficking survivors and ensure they have a seat at the table. The bipartisan LIFT Act not only extends the authorization of the Advisory Council, but for the first time ever, will allow the survivors sitting on the Advisory Council to receive compensation for the work they do. This is a strong step in support of trafficking survivors, and Humanity United Action calls on Congress to swiftly pass this important legislation.”

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here.

-30-