Blackburn Joins Hawley, Ernst to Obtain the Data Needed to Confront Human Trafficking

February 14, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced legislation to reauthorize a provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA) commissioning a two-part comprehensive federal study on human trafficking by the Department of Justice. While the TVPRA had called for biennial comprehensive studies on the issue, the only study ever completed and submitted to Congress was in 2009. The Senators’ legislation would therefore provide the first comprehensive study of human trafficking by the federal government in more than a decade.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and is a shameful scourge on our society,” said Senator Blackburn. “In Tennessee, we know all too well how this tragic crime has infiltrated our communities in both the physical and virtual space. In order to confront human trafficking, we need accurate data that informs both law enforcement and Congress and enables us to eliminate it from Tennessee communities.”

“Human trafficking is evil. It is modern-day slavery, and it undermines our most basic values as Americans. There is more that Congress can and should do to end this network of violence and oppression in our communities,” said Senator Hawley. “It begins with gathering comprehensive data so law enforcement, service providers, and legislators can do their jobs and provide victims the help they need.”

“Human trafficking continues to plague communities all across this country, including in my home state of Iowa,” Senator Ernst said. “We must do more to examine the sources of this sickening form of modern day slavery, and fully eradicate it from our society. By ensuring we have complete, accurate data, I believe we can prevent and protect one more life from being turned upside down by this horrific abuse.”


In the 20 years since the passage of the landmark TVPRA, Congress has failed to adequately fund comprehensive studies on human trafficking. Comprehensive data on the issue is needed to help service providers develop programs, to assist legislators in crafting policies to address trafficking, and to bolster law enforcement’s ability to identify and protect victims – and prosecute perpetrators of this heinous crime. To address these knowledge gaps, this legislation reauthorizes the 2005 TVPRA’s comprehensive two-part federal study on trafficking.

Part 1 focuses on severe forms of trafficking in persons in the United States, including:

  • The number and demographic characteristics of victims of severe forms of human trafficking;
  • The number and demographic characteristics of perpetrators of severe forms of human trafficking;
  • The estimated number of investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and incarcerations of persons engaged in acts of severe forms of human trafficking by states and their political subdivisions.

Part 2 addresses sex trafficking and unlawful commercial sex acts (CSAs) in the United States and shall include, but is not limited to:

  • The number and demographic characteristics of perpetrators of sex trafficking and CSAs, including purchasers of commercial sex acts;
  • The value in dollars of the commercial sex economy, including the average annual personal income derived from sex trafficking acts;
  • The number of investigations, arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations of persons engaged in sex trafficking and unlawful CSAs, including purchasers of commercial sex acts, by states and their political subdivisions, and a description of the differences in the enforcement of laws relating to unlawful CSAs across the United States.