AAHOA supports enhanced reporting to end human trafficking

It is endorsing the bipartisan National Human Trafficking Hotline Enhancement Act

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AAHOA is endorsing passage of the National Human Trafficking Hotline Enhancement Act that aims to improve reporting of suspected human and sex trafficking.

AAHOA IS ENDORSING passage of the National Human Trafficking Hotline Enhancement Act that aims to improve reporting of suspected human and sex trafficking. The association also will continue training its 20,000 members to prevent and intercept trafficking in their hotels.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline Enhancement Act would require entities that contract with the National Human Trafficking Hotline to collaborate with state and local law enforcement when receiving tips through the Hotline, AAHOA said in a statement.

The act, sponsored by Florida Reps. Laurel Lee and Kathy Castor, enhances the state-federal partnership to combat human trafficking. Lee’s office said 36 state attorneys general recently contacted Congress to complain that the hotline is not reporting human trafficking tips to law enforcement unless the victim self-reports, saying that disrupts the federal-state partnership to end human trafficking.

“Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline and its operator, Polaris, have worked together with state and local law enforcement to end human trafficking. But recently, Polaris has not communicated tips to law enforcement officials unless victims self-report. In order for the Hotline to operate effectively, there cannot be a divide between their efforts and those of law enforcement,” Lee said. “That is why I am proud to introduce the ‘National Human Trafficking Enhancement Act,’ which would require any non-governmental organization that receives federal taxpayer dollars to operate the Hotline to notify law enforcement agencies of information communicated through the Hotline.”

Bharat Patel, AAHOA chairman, said AAHOA members are in a good position to support the act.

“Through collaboration among hotels, businesses, local law enforcement, and all Americans, we must protect our fellow human beings from the heinous scourge of sex and labor trafficking. Our constant vigilance is essential to eradicate any form of trafficking within our hotels,” said Patel.

Maintaining awareness with each regional conference

AAHOA also works to raise awareness of human trafficking through education for hoteliers and their employees on how to spot and report suspected instances. It provides free, fully digital BEST Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training for all its members and employees.

“As the owners of 34,000 hotels around the country, AAHOA members are playing a huge role in preventing the scourge of human trafficking,” said Laura Lee Blake, AAHOA president and CEO. “With estimates of tens of thousands of individuals being trafficked here in the U.S., including under-aged minors and young children, it is absolutely the responsibility of all of us to be alert, aware, and ready to take action to report suspicious activities. AAHOA members are coordinating with law enforcement agencies and social services to ensure that hotels and motels are safe for everyone. Human trafficking has no place in our society.”

At AAHOA’s Regional Conference & Trade Show series, members can receive on-site certificates for the sponsored BEST Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training. During this year’s AAHOACON in Los Angeles, the association partnered with Covenant House California to raise funds and awareness for youth confronting homelessness and trafficking.

In a recent California town hall meeting, hoteliers were informed about steps to take during crises like human trafficking, violence, and shoplifting. The significance of reporting such incidents to law enforcement and fostering meaningful connections with local government officials was also highlighted.

The association also provided education on the universal “distress” hand signal, empowering victims to seek rescue and assistance in human and sex trafficking situations. It aims to replicate this ongoing model in upcoming Town Hall events nationwide.

In July, the American Hotel & Lodging Association Foundation announced $500,000 in inaugural grants to four community-based organizations dedicated to serving human trafficking survivors under the ‘No Room for Trafficking’ Survivor Fund. The 2023 NRFT Survivor Fund grant recipients will provide resources to boost survivors’ stability and self-sufficiency, encompassing childcare, housing, transportation, career training, and employment opportunities.