In a multistate letter led by Delaware and Mississippi, Attorney General Paxton called on Congressional leaders to protect the integrity of the National Human Trafficking Hotline (“Hotline”).
Congress has funded the Hotline for 15 years, and a bill reauthorizing $3.5 million annually through Fiscal Year 2028 was signed into law on January 5, 2023. However, the operating entity, Polaris, recently made alarming statements regarding the future of the Hotline. The company is also the subject of problematic reports concerning the Hotline’s efficiency.
Last summer, Polaris CEO Catherine Chen informed Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch that the Hotline was beginning to transition away from serving as a tipline to focus more on connecting survivors with resources. This transition threatens the efficacy of the Hotline because victims depend on it to connect with law enforcement, who can then work to help them escape from traffickers. States are already reporting having received tips one or two months after the initial report was submitted to Polaris. Such delays severely handicap law enforcement’s ability to rescue victims.
The coalition’s letter concludes by demanding action to preserve the Hotline’s main purpose, which is to help victims break free from human trafficking: “We urge Congress to ensure that Polaris makes changes to its current and reported planned tip reporting policies to begin forwarding tips regarding suspected human trafficking of adults, in a prompt manner, to the corresponding state’s law enforcement officials for their evaluation and response to ensure victim safety. The Hotline’s creation and its multijurisdictional use is an acknowledgment that traffickers do not respect borders any more than they respect their victims. We cannot afford to lose the benefits of this federal-state partnership to end trafficking.”
To read the full letter, click here.