Since joining the Senate, Senator Heitkamp is continuing the work she started as North Dakota’s Attorney General to protect some of the most vulnerable among us and prosecute those who seek to take advantage for their own personal gain. Senator Heitkamp has been a leader in Congress in working to combat human and sex trafficking -- which is an unfortunately growing problem in North Dakota, particularly in the oil patch and in Indian Country. She is working to shine a spotlight on this issue so others realize trafficking is not only happening abroad, but also in our own backyard.
Statistics show on average children are 13 years old when they are forced to become victims of sex trafficking. Around the world, it is estimated that more than 20 million individuals are trafficked for sex or labor – including thousands in the United States.
Finding Solutions to Stop Human Trafficking
In September 2013, Senator Heitkamp helped lead a Senate hearing to better understand the work being done on the federal, state, and local levels to combat human trafficking. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, which Senator Heitkamp asked the Committee to hold, brought together officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and non-profit leaders who are on the frontlines of addressing human trafficking. Senator Heitkamp facilitated this hearing in order to gain a better understanding of the work being done to stop human trafficking and to elevate the issue in Washington.
As a former Attorney General, Senator Heitkamp understands the need to provide increased protection to victims of human trafficking so that they are not saddled with the stigma of a criminal record, see a way out of their situations, and use increased services to find a path
Shining a Light on Human Trafficking in North Dakota
After introducing the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act, Senators Heitkamp and Klobuchar joined law enforcement and social service advocates in Fargo to push the bipartisan legislation to crack down on sex trafficking and hear directly from officials who are dealing with the issue first-hand.
Additionally, Senator Heitkamp and officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security held a training session in Fargo on identifying and reporting potential occurrences of human trafficking. The training brought together local businesses and social workers, school personnel and leaders of advocacy organizations to help raise awareness about human trafficking, training North Dakotans on what to look for, and how to report what they see.
Senator Heitkamp continues to meet regularly with local, state, and federal officials; advocates; law enforcement; victims; and others to beat the drum on stopping this problem.
A Global Advocate Against Human Trafficking
Senator Heitkamp has been working closely with Senator Klobuchar and Cindy McCain to end human trafficking. She first met with Cindy McCain, the wife of U.S. Senator John McCain, to strategize about efforts to combat sex and human trafficking, and to discuss the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act. McCain has been a global leader in the effort to reduce human trafficking around the world and co-chairs the Arizona Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking.
Senator Heitkamp, Senator Klobuchar, and Cindy McCain traveled to Mexico to discuss joint efforts to fight sex and labor trafficking and the increasing ties to Mexico’s drug trafficking gangs. The trio met with the Attorney General of Mexico, the head of the Mexican federal police, sex trafficking prosecutors and NGOs, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, and Mexican Senators involved in the issue to learn about the actions Mexico is taking to stop human trafficking, and what help they could offer as we work to address it in North Dakota and around the nation.
At the invitation of Cindy McCain, Senator Heitkamp participated in the McCain Institute’s annual Sedona Forum that brought together leaders to discuss current global political and humanitarian issues and look at various options and approaches to address pressing global concerns. Senators Heitkamp and Klobuchar and Cindy McCain discussed human trafficking and examined ways to combat the problem. They highlighted their previous meetings with local officials and advocates and their trip to Mexico, as well as the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act.
Senator Heitkamp's Recent Work on Human Trafficking
|7/5/17||Heitkamp Bipartisan Bill to Abolish Human Trafficking Unanimously Passes Senate Committee|
|6/13/17||Heitkamp’s Bipartisan Bill to Help Protect Missing & Abducted Children in Indian Country Unanimously Passes Senate Committee|
|6/1/17||Heitkamp: We Must Do More to Protect Children in Indian Country|
|2/1/17||Heitkamp Kicks off New Podcast ‘The Hotdish’ with Episode on Combating Human Trafficking|
|12/21/16||Heitkamp Announces Committee Assignments for 115th Congress|
|10/7/16||Heitkamp: Arrest of Backpage.com CEO is Needed Step Toward Holding Site Accountable for its Role in Online Human Trafficking|
|6/9/16||Heitkamp’s Bipartisan Bill to Train Health Workers to Identify, Protect Human Trafficking Victims is Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives|