January 15, 2016
Dear Mrs. VanGenderen,
Thank you for writing to me regarding human trafficking and the importance of providing all victims of trafficking with the proper protection and rehabilitation services they need. I was a proud supporter of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 2013 and voted for the Senate's bipartisan VAWA Reauthorization Act, S. 47. This legislation, which reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 and provides funding for Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018, was signed into law by the President on March 7, 2013.
The 2013 VAWA Reauthorization Act follows the example of previous VAWA reauthorizations by increasing protections for vulnerable and underserved groups, including the LGBT community, Native American and immigrant women, and minor victims of trafficking. It ensures protection for the children of victims and strengthens protections for women brought into the country by marriage brokers or as victims of sex trafficking. Additionally, the Act places a greater emphasis on training for law enforcement and ensures that no victim can be denied services based on race, color, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
VAWA's appropriations for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act enhance measures to combat human trafficking, improves domestic programs to identify victims and alert law enforcement, provides victims and their families with essential services, and promotes accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes. The reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act also requires that all unaccompanied alien children be screened as potential victims of human trafficking and be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 48 hours to receive appropriate services and support.
In response to the increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the border, Congress allocated an additional $80 million to the Unaccompanied Children (UC) program run by HHS. In total for Fiscal Year 2015, HHS has been allocated $948 million for the UC program that will be used to provide these children with critical health, mental health, and educational services, as well as legal support services as they seek safety from extreme violence or abuse in their home countries. The UC program is vital in helping these children when they first arrive in the United States.
Combatting human trafficking and protecting the rights of minor victims of trafficking is of the upmost important to me. Please know that I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that all victims of violence and trafficking are able to access support programs, that such programs are improved and expanded, and that resources are available to state and local authorities to keep our communities safe. I will continue to fight for the rights of victims of trafficking to ensure that they receive the critical services and support they need to heal.
Thank you again for writing to express your concerns, and I hope that you keep in touch with my office regarding future legislation and concerns you may have. For more information on this and other important issues, please visit my website at http://gillibrand.senate.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter.
United States Senator
United States Senator