(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) praised the Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision to include an anti-human trafficking amendment he co-sponsored in the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill (S.744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act). The Judiciary Committee agreed by voice vote to include the Human Trafficking Reporting Act amendment in the bill, an amendment introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and co-sponsored by Blumenthal and Senator Franken (D-Minn.) that would increase the information and statistics available on cases of human trafficking within the United States in order to better understand the scope of the problem.
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime which egregiously exploits men, women, and children by forcing them into a life of modern-day slavery,” said Blumenthal, who co-chairs the Senate Caucus To End Human Trafficking with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “Trafficking deprives people of their liberty and freedom through indentured servitude and forced labor.”
The Human Trafficking Reporting Act amendment would label human trafficking offenses as “Part I violent crimes” for purposes of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. Since grant funding is often tied to the number of “Part I violent crimes” in a given jurisdiction, this change will encourage law enforcement agencies nationwide to train their officials to detect and deter human trafficking while helping the public to gain a better understanding of the size and scope of the human trafficking epidemic. In addition, this amendment will help identify victims of this crime so they can seek justice.
“This amendment will expand the definition of Part I violent crimes to include severe forms of human trafficking and will encourage law enforcement agencies to fight this scourge,” Blumenthal said. “Training more officers to detect and deter human trafficking will increase the likelihood that victims of this crime will get the justice they deserve.”
Blumenthal also announced that he’s sponsoring three amendments to the immigration bill that are intended to fight human trafficking and foreign labor recruitment abuses. The first amendment strengthens private enforcement of anti-trafficking protections already included in the bill. The second amendment requires the Department of Homeland Security to consult with the Department of Labor when developing regulations authorized by the bill that pertain to anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions. The third amendment enhances disclosure and transparency provisions of the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions in the immigration bill.
“Too often immigrants are promised work by labor recruiters only to be forced into a life of modern-day slavery and indentured servitude,”Blumenthal said. “In some cases, these workers are told that their temporary worker visas will be paid for by their employers only to be hit with these fees down the road. Workers who experience this and other forms of exploitation should have the ability to protect their rights. These amendments will help them do so..”
Below is a list of the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruitment amendments that Blumenthal is sponsoring:
Blumenthal 3 – Recruiter Lawsuits: This amendment makes the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions in S.744 more effective by allowing workers who have been victims of recruiter violations to seek recourse against their employer, if, and only if, the employers have chosen to contract with an unregistered, unregulated foreign labor recruiter.
Blumenthal 4 – Recruiter Regulations: This amendment requires the Department of Homeland Security to consult with the Department of Labor when developing regulations to implement the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions of S.744 (Title III, Subtitle F).
Blumenthal 5 – Trafficking/Recruiter Transparency: This amendment enhances the disclosure and transparency provisions of the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions of S.744 (Title III, Subtitle F). The amendment also requires foreign labor recruiters to inform recruited temporary workers of plans regarding the renewal of a temporary worker visa and of their right not to have their contract changed without their informed consent. In addition, the amendment requires employers who use foreign labor recruiters to report who is responsible for paying the recruiter. Finally, this amendment makes other technical changes to Title III, Subtitle F.