Washington, D.C – Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) introduced the Jimmy Deal Trafficking Survivors Assistance Act to help human trafficking survivors access air travel so they can escape traffickers and get the care they need.
When fleeing violence and abuse, many human trafficking survivors do not have access to the identification documents they need to travel by plane. Recognizing this problem in Reno, Nevada, the late TSA Assistant Federal Security Director (AFSD) Jimmy Deal worked with local advocates and helped survivors fleeing abuse get cleared to board planes and reunite with their families. This federal legislation would replicate his efforts nationwide by establishing a partnership between TSA agents and anti-human trafficking nonprofits to help survivors access lifesaving care via air travel.
“When survivors flee their traffickers, we need to make it as easy as possible for them to access the care they need while upholding airport security,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Jimmy Deal worked to make sure these vulnerable people could escape, and my legislation will help expand his lifesaving efforts in airports across the country.”
“Victims of human trafficking often don’t have a government-issued ID needed to access air travel, impeding their ability to seek safety or reunite with family,” said Senator Moran. “This legislation aims to dismantle this barrier by establishing a process that ensures every survivor has the means to access air travel in their time of need.”
Human traffickers often control access to their victims’ identification documents and many survivors leave their documents behind when attempting to flee, making air travel difficult. According to Rescue America’s national emergency hotline for trafficking survivors, 38% of survivors who’ve called their hotline in the last three years did not have identity documents.
This bill has been endorsed by Awaken, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), Polaris, the Charleston Law Center, Nevada Policy Council on Human Trafficking, Hope for Family Resilience, the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Xquisite, Rescue America, the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, The Jensen Project, and Freedom Network USA.
Senator Cortez Masto is a national leader in the fight against trafficking and exploitation. She wrote the law making human trafficking a felony crime in Nevada as Attorney General, and her federal legislation to help train law enforcement to identify and prevent child trafficking and to combat human trafficking activity on social media was recently signed into law. She is also leading bipartisan legislation to combat trafficking at transportation hubs.