U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today offered an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act that would make federally recognized Indian tribes eligible for a block grant authorized by this bill to help prevent trafficking of Native American children or provide support services to Native American child trafficking victims. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, of which Thune is a cosponsor, would provide law enforcement with the tools needed to target traffickers and help trafficking victims restore their lives.
“The untold stories of thousands of Americans, including Native American children, who are sold into modern-day slavery are absolutely bone-chilling, and are undeniably some of most deplorable acts of human kind,” said Thune. “We can begin to right the wrongs of injustice by passing this important legislation. This bill will help victims of trafficking get the aid and resources they need to restore their lives and help bring traffickers to justice. My amendment would allow tribes and local governments to receive support to combat trafficking and care for Native American children who are victims of human trafficking.”
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act would create the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund, which provides the attorney general with the authority to award grants to help state and local governments develop and implement victim-centered programs. These programs must assist law enforcement, prosecutors, and qualified victims’ service organizations in collaborating to rescue and restore victims’ lives. The fund is deficit-neutral and financed through fines on persons convicted of child pornography, human trafficking, child prostitution, sexual exploitation, and human smuggling offenses.
Thune’s amendment would add an additional preference for plans submitted under the block grant by an Indian tribe, state, or local government that would reduce the occurrence of trafficking Native American children or provide support services to Indian children who are victims of human trafficking. The amendment would also allow the attorney general to waive the cost sharing requirement for grants awarded to Indian tribes.Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) are cosponsors of Thune’s amendment.