WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) says the U.S. needs to step up and aid victims of human trafficking.
“They should not be kept from rebuilding their lives because of the activities that their captures forced them to engage in,” Gillibrand said.
She is pushing two bipartisan bills through the Senate. One bill would expunge criminal records of trafficked victims for crimes like prostitution and money laundering.
“That would really allow them to start over with a clean slate,” Gillibrand said.
The other would improve victim services, government training and methods for tracking the problem.
“Help us identify better ways to collect data so we can not only identify patterns but address them,” Gillibrand said.
In 2020, the U.S reported nearly 11,000 cases of human trafficking. As a survivor and founder of Mentari, Shandra Woworuntu emphasizes it can happen to anyone.
“I came here with a work visa. So trafficking doesn’t see people educated or not educated, they are immigrant or domestic, it happens to anybody,” Woworuntu said.
Republicans agree and say Congress needs to take every step possible to stop human trafficking and protect victims.
“This is a modern day slavery in a sense and something we need to continue to push back against and fight,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said.
Cornyn and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) say they support taking action.
“Why aren’t we paying more attention? That’s an international problem and that’s going to take a real heavy effort,” Kelly said.