Each year, Shared Hope International advocates for legislation aimed at preventing child and youth sex trafficking, while expanding protections and services for survivors. Through collaboration with legislators, survivor leaders, and advocates, we push for federal legislation that will ensure change across the nation. Learn more about some of the federal bills we’re focused on:
Debt Bondage Repair Act
In late 2021, Congress passed the Debt Bondage Repair Act (“DBRA”) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 which was later signed by President Biden. The DBRA prohibits a consumer reporting agency from reporting adverse credit information about a consumer that is the result of severe human trafficking or sex trafficking. Traffickers control their victims through subtle or overt means, including financial control over victims’ income, access to money, or amount of debt. Specifically, traffickers often take out significant debt in their victims’ names or force victims to take out the loan themselves, resulting in default, judgements, and poor credit. Additionally, if a victim can exit the life, this debt often follows them around in the form of defaults, judgements, and poor credit scores, impacting their ability to get safe and stable housing, employment, and even some professional licenses. The DBRA directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with promulgating a rule to implement a method by which the DBRA will be carried out. Shared Hope participated in providing comments for the rule making and a final rule was published in late June. To learn more about who is eligible under the DBRA, check out our resource.
Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act
Three additional Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) bills have been introduced this year, H.R. 6552, S. 3946, and S. 3949. The bills reauthorize and enhance programs, strengthen laws, and add accountability that reflects the critical need for prevention, protection, and prosecution to combat human trafficking domestically and abroad. Specifically, S. 3946 incorporates Sara’s Law and both S. 3946 and S. 3949 make grants to eligible states to develop, improve, or expand programs that assist child welfare programs with identifying and responding to human trafficking, including children trafficked by a third-party (i.e., not familial) trafficker. In July, the House passed H.R. 6552 and sent the bill to the Senate. You can visit Shared Hope’s campaign site for the TVPRA to ask your Senator to support this necessary legislation.
Trafficking Survivors Relief Act
Finally, in early August, Congress introduced H.R. 8672, the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act (“TSRA”), sponsored by Rep. Owens. The TSRA seeks to permit vacatur, or the complete removal from an individual’s record, for non-violent criminal offenses when the offense was directly related to having been a victim of trafficking. Additionally, the TSRA allows for a “human trafficking defense” so that survivors can assert as a defense to prosecution, that the criminal offense was committed as a result of force or coercion due to their trafficking. Although some states have taken action to address this by allowing trafficking victims to expunge or vacate unjust convictions, Congress has yet to take similar action on this issue, leaving victims with no Federal protection from unjust criminalization. Urge your Congresspeople to take action on the TSRA here.
To learn more about federal legislation that addresses the needs of sex trafficking victims and to take action in support of this critical issue, please visit Shared Hope’s Federal Advocacy Action Center.
If you are a lawmaker or advocate seeking to craft strong laws to fight juvenile sex trafficking and wish to speak with Shared Hope’s Policy Team for technical assistance, please visit request a consultation.