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Polaris Stands Against the National Human Trafficking Hotline Enhancement Act (H.R. 2601)

The National Human Trafficking Hotline Enhancement Act (H.R. 2601) was introduced earlier this year and may soon be taken up for a floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. Polaris, which operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline (the Trafficking Hotline or NHTH), opposes this bill. 

H.R. 2601 would require the operator of the Trafficking Hotline to turn over information shared by the public to state and local law enforcement on demand, regardless of whether or not an adult trafficking victim consents to the involvement of law enforcement. Victims of human trafficking must be able to control when to involve law enforcement in their trafficking situations. 

Because human traffickers often threaten victims and their families if someone calls law enforcement — regardless of who calls — the bill is dangerous to the safety and security of victims and survivors of human trafficking. As a result, we urge members of Congress to vote NO on H.R. 2601. 

Polaris stands against H.R. 2601 for the following reasons: 

  1. This mandate violates the trust of confidentiality and autonomy the Trafficking Hotline provides to potential victims. Victims and survivors who call the Trafficking Hotline count on their information remaining confidential. They place their trust in the NHTH to work with them in a way that prioritizes their safety from the moment they call. If this bill is passed into law, victims will stop calling the Hotline to access resources. We know this because they’ve told usand we’ve listened.
  2. The Trafficking Hotline already actively works with law enforcement when requested by victims or in a limited scope as required by existing mandates, which are disclosed to callers. The Trafficking Hotline already complies with mandated reporting laws about children who may be trafficked or otherwise harmed, and reports any credible situations where it is clear someone is unable to get help for themselves. From 2016 through August 2022, the Trafficking Hotline has referred more than 7,300 situations to law enforcement. 
  3. No other crisis hotline is required to turn over information of this nature. To impose this requirement on the National Human Trafficking Hotline would create inconsistency in the experiences of victims compared to when they call a sexual assault, domestic violence or mental health hotline. It would mandate a different standard of care, signaling that protecting individual personal safety of human trafficking victims is not of concern to Congress. 

Catherine Chen, CEO of Polaris, said, “By requiring the sharing of information without the explicit consent of victims, the bill forces the Trafficking Hotline to violate the trust we have built over the years, and signals to victims and survivors of trafficking that the Hotline is not a safe or trustworthy space. Our first priority, as operators of the Trafficking Hotline and as Polaris, is to create and maintain the safest possible space for victims to regain control of their lives, including in how they get help.”

Our 20+ years of experience, and the chorus of survivor and allied voices speaking out against this billincluding some of the original sponsors, shows that H.R. 2601 is not the correct way forward.

Polaris stands against H.R. 2601, and we urge members of Congress to listen to survivors and vote NO.

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.