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House Unanimously Approves the Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015

January 27, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Mark Walker (NC-6) to combat human trafficking unanimously passed the House of Representatives.  The Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015 (H.R. 460) is the first bill introduced by Rep. Walker, and he is the first member of 114th freshman class to pass a bill in the House.

This bipartisan legislation works to effectively train and inform Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel to better detect and intercept human traffickers and their victims. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Full text of the Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015 can be found here.

North Carolina Members of Congress, Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-8), Rep. Robert Pittenger (NC-9), Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC-10) and Rep. Mark Meadows (NC-11), who first introduced this legislation in the 113th Congress, were among 24 co-sponsors of the legislation.  Rep. Walker managed the House Floor for the bill, an honor for a member of the freshman class.

The following are Rep. Walker’s prepared remarks:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 460, the Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015, the first bill I have introduced as a Member of Congress.  A few weeks ago, we took an oath, promising to protect the people of this great country.  I am convinced that part of this high calling is protecting those who are victims of human trafficking.  North Carolina is often ranked as a top state for labor and sex trafficking. This insidious industry is in our own backyard and it is growing. Just this week, in my own district, local officials announced the formation of the Alamance County Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy Council to respond to the growing human trafficking problem throughout Alamance County. However, they cannot do it alone and we must come together to stop this unconscionable industry.

As a Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I feel strongly that the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security have a crucial role in preventing human trafficking. Up to an estimated 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year, and many of these victims will pass by either Border Patrol or TSA, and we must make certain these agents are properly trained in the current trends and practices to end human trafficking.

This bipartisan legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security to train Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and other relevant DHS personnel to counter human trafficking in a manner specific to their professional roles and responsibilities. The bill also ensures that such training will be assessed by the Secretary of Homeland Security on an annual basis, so that it is based on the most current human trafficking trends and intelligence, and directs the Secretary to report to Congress on the number of suspected cases reported by DHS officials.  Lastly, this legislation recognizes the critical role that state and local authorities play in preventing human trafficking by authorizing the Department of Homeland Security to make training curricula available to state, local, tribal, and private sector partners. 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is one of the most profitable forms of transnational crime in the world, second only to drug trafficking.  It is incumbent upon Congress to take action and ensure that DHS personnel are better equipped to prevent this serious threat and modern-day form of slavery.  The Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015 builds on the good work already underway at DHS by mandating position-specific, relevant training to enable effective trafficking countermeasures at points of entry, transit hubs, and other high-risk locations across the country.

I would like to thank Congressman Meadows for developing and championing this legislation in the 113th Congress and for working with me to re-introduce the measure this Congress.  Additionally, I would like to thank the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Mr. McCaul, for his work on this important issue and for his support of this bill, as well as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, Mr. Katko, for cosponsoring this legislation.  Lastly, I would like to thank each of the bill’s cosponsors for their support of this important legislation.  I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.