Amendment includes tribes in anti-human trafficking measure

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming). Still image from 2015 State of Indian Nations / NCAI / YouTube

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, wants to include tribes in an anti-human trafficking bill under consideration in the Senate.

Barrasso introduced an amendment to S.178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, to allow tribes to obtain funding for anti-trafficking programs. It would also make tribal law enforcement eligible to participate in training sessions to detect trafficking activity in Indian Country.

YouTube: Chairman Barrasso Offers Key Amendment to Empower Tribes to Combat Human Trafficking

“Human trafficking is widespread in Indian Country and we have to do everything we can to stop it. Violent crime rates against women and girls in Native American communities are far higher than the national averages,” Barrasso said on the Senate floor today. “This amendment delivers help to trafficking survivors and gives tribes the resources they need to battle human trafficking in their own backyards.”

The anti-trafficking measure enjoys strong bipartisan support. But Democrats are objecting to a provision that would bar the use of the new Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund for abortion services.

If Barrasso's amendment is adopted, tribes would be eligible for obtaining money from the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund so they would be subject to the same restriction. The Indian Health Service already falls under a policy known as the Hyde Amendment that bars the use of federal funds for abortion services.

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