The second of Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5)’s two bipartisan bills to combat human trafficking in America was signed into law today, marking the successful conclusion of an effort to establish tough new penalties for truckers and create a human trafficking prevention coordinator position at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Esty introduced both bills with Rep. John Katko (R-NY).

   “I’m proud that we were able to turn bipartisan proposals to protect Americans threatened by the horrible and inhumane crime of human trafficking into reality,” Esty said. “Our truckers are our eyes and ears on the road, which is why they’re often the best positioned to see when trafficking activities are occurring and report them to the authorities. I thank my Republican colleague Congressman Katko for his efforts on these important pieces of legislation.”

   According to the International Labor Organization,  more than 20 million men, women, and children are victimized by forced labor and sex trafficking worldwide, with 300,000 children annually trafficked in the United States alone. In a 2016 WNPR report, Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families testified during a panel discussiion that, since 2006, there have been 432 underage victims of human trafficking.

   “We applaud Congresswoman Esty’s efforts to bring great awareness to the issue of human trafficking and to provide truck drivers with information and resources on human trafficking,” said Jillian Gilchrest, Chair, Connecticut Trafficking in Persons Council & Director of Health Professional Outreach for CCADV. “The unfortunate reality is that women, girls and boys are being sexually exploited all across this country, with large numbers being sold at truck stops. This legislation is an important step by helping truck drivers to intervene and connect victims to safety and services.”

   The Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act (S. 1536) focuses on preventing human trafficking. The bill would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation and increase outreach, education, and reporting efforts at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The bill is supported by Truckers Against Trafficking, National District Attorneys Association, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and ECPAT-USA.

   The No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act (S. 1532) would disqualify individuals from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for their lifetime if they used a CMV to commit a felony involving human trafficking.