Human Trafficking,Senator Richard Blumenthal,Trafficking Survivors,Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) / February 2020

Capitol Hill Notes: USCRI and Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Office Partner on Fighting Human Trafficking

From left: USCRI Vice President AnnaMarie Bena, USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash, Activist Evelyn Cumbow and Catholic University Law Professor Mary Graw Leary.


On February 12th USCRI’s Human Trafficking program, in conjunction with Senator Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Ct) office, held a briefing for members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill. The purpose of the briefing was to bring attention to the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act (TVPA) and raise awareness of gaps in the two decades old legislation. Attending the briefing were staff from Senators Patrick Leahy, Sherrod Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Kyrsten Sinema, Tim Kaine and Richard Blumenthal.

The partnership between USCRI and Senator Blumenthal’s office was created as a response to the need to support further anti-trafficking legislation, particularly in the area of helping survivors re-build their lives. Senator Blumenthal has long been a champion of anti-human trafficking efforts and appropriate social services for survivors. USCRI works to provide trauma-informed care across the U.S. and its territories to foreign nationals who have survived instances of sex and labor trafficking. USCRI is also a global voice to in the fight against human trafficking.

AnnaMarie Bena, Vice President at USCRI, welcomed the panel and the audience to the briefing, noting that it has been 20 years since TVPA was passed and there remains significant gaps in the legislation for helping survivors. Ms. Bena gave an overview of USCRI’s network of trauma-informed care through technical assistance and training across the U.S. and its territories.

First to speak was USCRI’s President and CEO Eskinder Negash who noted the global nature of human trafficking and the need for global solutions. The next panelist was a passionate activist and survivor of human trafficking, Evelyn Chumbow, who told the audience her moving story about being trafficked from her home in Cameroon. When she was a child of nine years old, she ended up flying alone to the U.S. where she was forced into domestic servitude by a family from her own country.  Her eventual escape led her to college and a job that allows her to raise her voice on behalf of human trafficking survivors. Ms. Chumbow was followed by Catholic University Law Professor Mary Graw Leary who spoke about the urgent need to separate the request for a T-visa from the requirement for survivors to testify against their traffickers.

Attending the briefing were staff from Senators Patrick Leahy, Sherrod Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Kyrsten Sinema, Tim Kaine and Richard Blumenthal’s offices.

USCRI will continue to work with the Congress to close the gaps in anti-trafficking legislation.

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