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December 17, 2013

Miller, State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Fund Anti-Human Trafficking Programs

AGs ask Congress to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which would fund the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) for two more years

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Attorney General Tom Miller, along with 46 state and territorial attorneys general, today asked Congress to fund programs that fight human trafficking in the United States and abroad.

Through letters sent to two U.S. House and Senate appropriations subcommittees, the bipartisan group of 47 attorneys general is asking lawmakers to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which would fund the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) for two more years.

The TVPA, which Congress first enacted in 2000, has significantly protected human trafficking victims, assisted survivors, improved prevention methods, and has resulted in successful human trafficking prosecutions.  The original legislation established human trafficking as a federal crime.

“These programs are hugely important in the fight against human trafficking here in Iowa, nationally, and worldwide,” Miller said.  “They help the U.S. establish partnerships with cooperating countries to protect children and prevent trafficking, they add new protections for human trafficking victims, and the programs provide prosecutors with some of the tools they need for successful human trafficking cases.”

Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery.  Oftentimes, victims pay to be illegally transported into the United States only to find themselves in the servitude of traffickers.  Traffickers force many victims into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of enslavement to repay debts, which are often “entry fees” into the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world, generating about $32 billion each year.

Foreign & U.S. Child Victims
Many human trafficking victims are children.  According to a study of U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens.  The average age that U.S. citizens are first used for commercial sex is 12–14.

In cases involving domestic child human trafficking, criminals use force, threats and coercion to control their victims’ behavior.  In cases where foreign children are transported into the U.S., they find themselves surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and language without identification documents, fearing for their lives and the lives of their families.

“We should treat anyone who forces others into labor or servitude as criminals, and those who are being trafficked as victims,” Miller said, noting that human trafficking is a felony under Iowa law.

In January, Miller formed the Iowa Human Trafficking Working Group. The working group includes the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa Department of Transportation, and more than a dozen other entities.  The group is currently assessing Iowa's human trafficking problem, looking for ways to best address it, and is conducting training to help law enforcement and non-law enforcement people identify human trafficking cases, with the goal of prosecuting criminals and protecting victims.


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