The United States Congress passed the Human Trafficking Prevention Act of 2022 (H.R.7181) on December 27, 2022. President Biden signed the act into law.
The act was designed to amend and add to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which has served as the foundation for anti-trafficking legislation in the U.S. It was passed immediately before Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January 2023.
In a statement about these efforts to fight trafficking, President Biden said,
“Together, we can combat human trafficking and its cruel consequences — creating a safer, freer, and more just world for everyone.”
What does the act do?
The Human Trafficking Prevention Act of 2022 requires the national human trafficking hotline number to be posted publically in government buildings, airports, planes, buses, trains, and ports. The hotline number (888-373-7888) will be posted in restrooms, where it can be easily seen and discreetly called.
The act will be implemented in transportation locations by the Secretary of Transportation, who will coordinate with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Secretary of Homeland Security will oversee posting the number in ports of entry.
Why was the act passed?
The act was passed in recognition of the fact that public transit is often the best place to reach people who are being trafficked as it’s so widely used. In 2021, 674 million passengers used air travel alone. Although trafficking by definition does not require transportation, many victims of trafficking do access bus systems, trains, and airplanes.
In addition to making the hotline available to trafficking survivors, posting the number raises general public awareness. That awareness better equips communities to prevent trafficking, and to call the number if they notice anything suspicious.
Many transportation vehicles and transit hubs have already voluntarily posted human trafficking notices. Airports like the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta have run campaigns with public service announcements about trafficking playing frequently over the intercom. This Act of 2022 formalizes those efforts.
The Human Trafficking Act of 2022 ultimately has the same stated goal as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000: “to mount a comprehensive and coordinated campaign to eliminate modern forms of slavery domestically and internationally.”
Who passed the Human Trafficking Act of 2022?
The Human Trafficking Act of 2022 was introduced in the House on March 21, 2022. Through most of 2022, the act underwent amendments in Congress.
The Senate passed the act by unanimous consent, without amendment, on December 15, 2022. It was then presented to President Biden on December 23, and he signed it into law on December 27. The act is officially designated Public Law No: 117-301.
Like the original 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the Human Trafficking Act of 2022 was a bipartisan effort. Cosponsors included:
- Rep. Issa, Darrell E. (R-CA)
- Rep. Bass, Karen (D-CA)
- Rep. Mace, Nancy (R-SC)
- Rep. McBath, Lucy (D-GA)
- Rep. Johnson, Mike (R-LA)
- Rep. Van Drew, Jefferson (R-NJ)
- Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. (D-CA)
- Rep. Tiffany, Thomas P. (R-WI)
- Rep. Fitzpatrick, Brian K. (R-PA)
- Rep. Spartz, Victoria (R-IN)
- Rep. Owens, Burgess (R-UT)
- Rep. Ross, Deborah K. (D-NC)
- Rep. Donalds, Byron (R-FL)
- Rep. Williams, Nikema (D-GA)
- Rep. Torres, Norma J. (D-CA)
You can read the bill in full at congress.gov.
What can I do?
If you’d like to support the efforts of the Human Trafficking Act of 2022, you can save the human trafficking hotline number to your phone. The number to call is 1-888-373-7888, or you can text 233733. You can call this number if you see something suspicious. If you become aware of an urgent situation of exploitation, dial 911.
If you are a business owner or work in a public space such as a restaurant, hotel, or gas station, you can also voluntarily choose to post the human trafficking hotline number in restrooms or on bulletin boards. You might consider posting the hotline along with some basic facts to help customers recognize human trafficking if they see it.
The Human Trafficking Act of 2022 affirms that everyone has a part to play in the fight against human trafficking — including you. Keep learning about how you can fight human trafficking by taking our free course, TraffickWatch Academy.