Senate approves bills to halt human trafficking in transportation

Two bills introduced by U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) that target the prevention of human trafficking were passed by the Senate on Friday with a show of support from Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).

“These bills create a common sense consequence for egregious wrongdoing and serve as a starting point for better recognition and reporting of human trafficking by commercial drivers,” said Thune, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The first bill, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, S. 1532, would disqualify individuals convicted of a felony for human trafficking from ever again operating a commercial motor vehicle.

The second bill, S. 1536, the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, creates a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation. That official would focus on outreach to commercial truck drivers and education on how to recognize and prevent human trafficking, and bolstering reporting efforts at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“Our legislation is yet another step toward putting an end to this modern day slavery by strengthening prevention efforts at the federal level and keeping criminals who have already been convicted of this horrifying offense off of our roads and away from our kids,” Heller said.

Thune introduced the bipartisan bills with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who said truckers and commercial drivers on the nation’s roads are often the first line of defense against human trafficking.

“We’ll continue to work together to fight human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable from a crime that is all too often hidden in plain sight,” added Heller, who cosponsored the bills.