skip to main content

H.R. 2473 (115th): Put Trafficking Victims First Act of 2017


The text of the bill below is as of May 16, 2017 (Introduced).

Summary of this bill

Source: Republican Policy Committee

H.R. 2473 directs the Attorney General to provide training to prosecutors on investigating and processing cases with a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach, and encourages state to provide appropriate services to victims of trafficking. The bill also requires reports on the implementation of state safe harbor provisions and on how to improve mandatory restitution procedures for victims of trafficking in federal courts.


I

115th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2473

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 16, 2017

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To ensure compliance with the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, to make strides toward eradicating human trafficking, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Enforcing Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2017.

2.

Training for prosecutions of traffickers and support for state services for victims of trafficking

The Attorney General shall, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, provide training and technical assistance for Federal, State, and units of local and tribal government, including Federal, State, local, and tribal prosecutors and law enforcement officers, in—

(1)

investigating, prosecuting, and preventing severe forms of trafficking in persons through a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach that provides services and protections for victims;

(2)

facilitating the provision of evidence-based, trauma-informed care and physical and mental health services to persons subject to severe forms of trafficking;

(3)

ensuring that all victims of trafficking who are United States citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign nationals are eligible for services;

(4)

ensuring that law enforcement officers and prosecutors make every attempt to determine an individual’s participation in human trafficking is free from force, fraud, or coercion of any means before arresting or convicting them;

(5)

facilitating access for child trafficking victims to the same type of court procedures and legal protections accessible to child victims of sexual assault, rape, child sexual abuse, or incest, including the right to not be treated as a criminal; and

(6)

encouraging States to identify victims where they are located, including through efforts that utilize internet outreach, through methods informed by survivors of human trafficking, and to offer help and services that are responsive to victims’ needs.

3.

Working to develop methodology to assess prevalence of human trafficking

(a)

Working group

(1)

In general

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the National Institute of Justice shall establish an expert working group to identify the methodological barriers hampering data collection on human trafficking, the information that should be collected, and current practices by agencies, task forces, States, cities, research institutions, and organizations working on human trafficking that could be standardized as replicable best practices.

(2)

Pilot testing

Not later than 3 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the National Institute of Justice shall implement a series of pilot studies to test promising methodologies studied under paragraph (1).

(b)

Report

(1)

In general

Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the National Institute of Justice, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, shall submit to Congress a report on the efforts made in developing a comprehensive national methodology to determine the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States, recommended examples and best practices to determine the prevalence of human trafficking, and the effectiveness of current policies and procedures to address victims’ needs, and identify the varying characteristics of victims in different regions.

(2)

Availability of report

The report required under subsection (a) shall be made publicly available on the website of the Department of Justice.

(3)

Input from relevant parties

In developing the report under paragraph (1), the Director shall seek input from the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, victims of human trafficking, human trafficking survivor advocates, and the President’s Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking.

(c)

Census

Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the National Institute of Justice, in coordination with Federal, State, local, and tribal governments, and private organizations, including victim service providers and expert researchers, shall develop and execute a census of survivors seeking services in a single 24-hour period throughout the United States, as pioneered by the domestic violence field, to estimate the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States. Census results shall be made publicly available on the website of the Department of Justice.

4.

Report on prosecutors seeking mandatory restitution in trafficking cases

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall submit to Congress a report on efforts to increase mandatory restitution orders and use of asset forfeiture to provide restitution to victims of trafficking that shall be posted on a publicly available website, which shall include the following:

(1)

Information on the Department of Justice’s training programs on mandatory restitution and the use of asset forfeiture to provide restitution to victims of trafficking, and recommendations of necessary additional training to ensure mandatory restitution is ordered in all relevant human trafficking cases.

(2)

An assessment of obstacles that continue to prevent Federal prosecutors and Federal courts from ordering restitution.

(3)

An assessment of whether the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act’s civil asset forfeiture provisions have helped increase requests to transfer forfeited proceeds for restitution, including how many requests have been made and how many of those requests have been approved, and whether Assistant United States Attorneys Offices are properly informed about requesting transfers.

(4)

An assessment of how establishing trauma-informed, victim-centered investigative and prosecutorial procedures can help improve mandatory restitution orders, such as by encouraging victims to cooperate in criminal cases, to equip victims with proper assistance during criminal proceedings, and to help victims secure mandatory restitution.

5.

Encouraging States to adopt protections for victims of trafficking

Congress recognizes and applauds the State legislative bodies that have taken tremendous steps to adopt protections and services for victims of trafficking. Congress encourages States to do the following:

(1)

Uphold the basic rights and dignity of human trafficking survivors.

(2)

Implement screening mechanisms for all children entering child welfare services and the juvenile justice system, and for unaccompanied children migrating into the country, to identify child trafficking victims and connect them with appropriate services.

(3)

Ensure that child trafficking victims are provided with the full range of protections, including access to child welfare services, trauma-informed programming, and the same legal rights afforded to other children who experience sexual abuse, rape, or incest, including ensuring that criminals who exploit child sex trafficking victims are not given lesser sentences and penalties than criminals who exploit children through sexual abuse, rape, or incest; and ensuring that child trafficking victims are never referred to as child prostitutes or underage sex workers in law or official documents and proceedings.

(4)

Develop a 24-hour emergency response plan to provide victims of labor and sex trafficking with immediate protection and support when they are first identified, which may include physically moving victims of trafficking to a place of safety, attending to the immediate medical and emotional needs of survivors, assessing whether survivors are under risk for harm, retaliation, or intimidation, and directly connecting survivors with victim advocates, housing, and service providers.

(5)

Adopt protections for victims of human trafficking that include the right—

(A)

to be treated as a victim of crime and afforded justice, respect, and dignity;

(B)

to protection if the victim’s safety is at risk or if there is danger of harm, retaliation, or recapture by the trafficker;

(C)

to comprehensive trauma-informed, long-term, culturally competent care and healing services oriented toward emotional, physical, psychological, and family healing;

(D)

to evidence-based screening and assessment tools, treatment plans, and therapy to address traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms;

(E)

to safe and effective emergency and long-term housing; education, vocational, and job assistance and training; mentoring programs; language assistance; drug and substance abuse services; and legal services;

(F)

for child sex trafficking victims to be treated as children in need of child protective services and to be served through the child welfare system, where appropriate, in place of the juvenile justice system;

(G)

for all victims of trafficking who are United States citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign nationals to be eligible for services;

(H)

to have convictions and adjudications related to prostitution and nonviolent offenses vacated and such records cleared and expunged if offenses were committed as a direct result of the victim being trafficked, and protection for foreign nationals from being removed, being determined to be inadmissible, or losing any immigration benefit because of such conviction or arrests;

(I)

to the same type of court procedures and legal protections accessible to victims of sexual assault, rape, child sexual abuse, or incest, including the right to not be treated as a criminal;

(J)

to be informed and notified in writing of the survivor’s legal rights, including the availability of victim compensation, mandatory restitution, and a civil cause of action; the availability of protective orders and policies related to their enforcement; and the rights and services available to the victim under section 2771 of title 18, United States Code; and

(K)

to retain all rights regardless of whether the crime has been reported to law enforcement.