Hoeven Amendment Makes North Dakota Eligible to Apply for Grants from New $35 Million Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that he has introduced an amendment to the Senate’s human trafficking bill that would help North Dakota victims of human trafficking and child pornography, and also give law enforcement new tools to crack down on offenders. The Hoeven amendment precludes a Department of Justice (DOJ) requirement that applicants for grants have two years of data on human trafficking to be eligible for a grant as long as they meet all the other requirements for eligibility.

“North Dakota in recent years has been the fastest growing state in the country in terms of both population and income,” Hoeven said. “Because of that we have only recently seen a sudden increase in human trafficking issues and have just begun gathering data. We can, however, show that human trafficking and exploitation are real problems in North Dakota and we need to address them.”

Hoeven offered the measure as an amendment to legislation introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act. The legislation, which is currently being debated on the Senate floor, creates a Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund paid for through fines on persons convicted of child pornography, human trafficking, child prostitution, sexual exploitation and human smuggling offenses. It will generate approximately $7 million a year for five years, for a total of $35 million. Hoeven is an original cosponsor of the bill, and was a cosponsor of an earlier version offered last session.

Funding will be awarded as block grants to help state and local governments develop and implement victim-centered programs that train law enforcement to rescue trafficking survivors, prosecute human traffickers, and restore the lives of victims. The Hoeven amendment will enable North Dakota to apply for grants to fund state and local initiatives.

“Cornyn-Klobuchar is an important bill because it not only compensates victims of human trafficking and other crimes of exploitation for their traumatic injuries, but also provides resources to help law enforcement prevent such crimes in the future,” Hoeven said. “We want North Dakota to benefit from that legislation as well, which is why I introduced this amendment.”

The legislation is supported by a wide range of national victims’ rights and law enforcement groups, including Shared Hope International, Rights 4 Girls, Fraternal Order of Police, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Children’s Alliance, National Criminal Justice Association, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, PROTECT, National Association of Police Organizations, National Conference of State Legislatures.