Cornyn and Klobuchar Highlight Modern Slavery in the United States
One hundred fifty years after the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, America is not yet free of forced servitude. As highlighted in a recent CNN opinion piece by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), slavery persists, unnoticed by many.
Modern day slavery exists throughout the United States. In the agricultural sector, the construction industry, and the hospitality industry, victims are often hidden in plain sight. Their abusers profit at an alarming rate—to the tune of $150 billion worldwide. Child victims trafficked into the sex trade are especially vulnerable.
Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar have introduced key measures to punish abusers, deter would-be traffickers, and protect child victims.
The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act, introduced by Senator Klobuchar, would incentivize states to pass “safe harbor” legislation to protect minor sex trafficking victims from prosecution and instead divert them to specialized services. It would additionally establish the "National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking,” an effort that would coordinate local, state, and tribal law enforcement across the country.
Introduced by Senator Cornyn, The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act includes four measures that would enhance current efforts to disrupt the business of human trafficking: improvements to victim restitution and law enforcement reporting, increased victim empowerment in criminal procedures, and further funding and implementation of law enforcement training.
As the Senate takes up these two bills on the floor today, Human Rights First urges their swift passage, noting that such protections should be expanded to apply to all victims of modern slavery, including adults and victims of labor trafficking.