Working to End Human Trafficking
Over the past two years, Portman – already the author of five federal anti-trafficking laws designed to better serve victims and help law enforcement end this horrific crime – continued his longstanding work to combat human trafficking and help trafficking survivors.
Portman led efforts in the U.S. Senate to curb the explosion of online sex trafficking, spending 18 months investigating the issue and Backpage.com, the leader in the online sex marketplace. The bipartisan investigation, completed in January 2017, resulted in a stunning report detailing how Backpage.com knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. Portman turned the findings of his investigation into legislative action, authoring the bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), and President Trump signed the bill into law on April 11, 2018.
Senator Portman has led efforts in the U.S Senate to hold the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Homeland Security accountable for ensuring that unaccompanied alien children (UACs) are protected from human trafficking and other forms of abuse. Portman introduced the bipartisan Responsibility for Unaccompanied Minors Act. The bill clarifies that HHS is responsible for ensuring these children’s safety. It requires HHS to run background checks before placing children with sponsors, to make sure sponsors live up to their agreement to care for the children and ensure they appear at their immigration court proceedings, and to notify state governments before placing children in those states.
In August 2018, Portman introduced the bipartisan Missing Children’s Assistance Act, which reauthorizes the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and continue the fight against child abduction and exploitation. The president signed the bill into law on October 23, 2018.