News from the Hill: Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2016

The fight to support the survivors of human trafficking has reached the halls of Congress. On September 28, 2016 Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York introduced a bill to the Committee on the Judiciary that could drastically improve the lives of survivors of human trafficking, both nationwide and in the District specifically. The bill, known as the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2016, will provide post-conviction relief to survivors of human trafficking plagued by a criminal record that they do not deserve. As a result of being trafficked, survivors face criminal charges such as conspiracy, money laundering, drug trafficking, and related offenses, which follow them throughout their lives. Their criminal records makes it difficult for them to find employment and housing, which leaves them vulnerable to further exploitation. [1]

Without this bill, the process that survivors must endure to overturn their convictions and clear their records virtually impossible for federal and District of Columbia crimes. If this bill passes, Amara and other legal groups will have a powerful tool for supporting survivors. We will be able to file a motion to vacate eligible convictions, which will provide our clients with increased opportunities to obtain employment and housing.

By passing this law, Congress will be building on existing laws in multiple states around the country which provide this vital protection to survivors charged with state-level offenses. This bill will expand these protections to survivors facing federal charges in every state and local charges in the District.

The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act has strong support among nonprofit advocacy groups, including: Polaris, Rights4Girls, FAIR Girls, Sanctuary for Families, The Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, The Family Focused Treatment Association, The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, The National Survivor Network, and The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

We need your help to keep this momentum going! We need our supporters to tell the members of Senate Judiciary Committee that they support this bill and that they want to see it brought before Congress. Here are the members of the Committee. Just click on the biography link to find your Senator’s contact information, and let them know that you want this signed into law.

For the full text of the bill, please click here.

On the same day, Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri introduced an identical bill into the House of Representatives by. It was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. It must be approved here, and then passed by the general assembly to pass the House. Here are the members of the Subcommittee. It is important to show your support for this bill in both houses of Congress to give it the best chance of passing.

Tucker Kelleher-Brozost serves as a Communications Intern for the Amara Legal Center. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colorado College in Political Science, and studied Human Rights Law at City University London. In addition to his work with Amara, Kelleher-Brozost serves as the Executive Director for the Brokell Foundation, which supports organizations in the District of Columbia in the fight to end human trafficking.

[1] https://endslaveryandtrafficking.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Trafficking-Survivors-Relief-Act-of-2016-One-Pager.pdf

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