Blackburn, Ernst cosponsor bill to gather federal data on human trafficking

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Feb. 13 introduced legislation to reauthorize federal comprehensive research, statistical review and analysis of human trafficking and commercial sex acts.

“The flow of illegal drugs & human trafficking across our borders continues to impact our communities in Iowa & across the country,” Sen. Ernst tweeted on Feb. 13.

Sens. Blackburn and Ernst are original cosponsors of S. 3319 with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to reauthorize a provision in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005 that would commission a two-part federal study on human trafficking by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The TVPRA originally called for biennial studies on the topic, but only one study was submitted to Congress in 2009, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Blackburn’s office.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and is a shameful scourge on our society,” said Sen. Blackburn. “In Tennessee, we know all too well how this tragic crime has infiltrated our communities in both the physical and virtual space.”

To tackle human trafficking, Sen. Blackburn said accurate data is needed to inform both law enforcement and Congress.

“We must do more to examine the sources of this sickening form of modern day slavery, and fully eradicate it from our society,” Sen. Ernst said. “By ensuring we have complete, accurate data, I believe we can prevent and protect one more life from being turned upside down by this horrific abuse.”

If enacted, Part 1 of the new study would focus on severe forms of human trafficking in the United States, while Part 2 would address sex trafficking and unlawful commercial sex acts across the country, according to Sen. Blackburn’s bill summary.

The bill has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.