ATEST Applauds Final Congressional Approval of Anti-Trafficking Reauthorization Legislation

The House and Senate have approved a package of four bills that renew America’s commitment to ending human trafficking and modern slavery at home and abroad. The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking applauds Congress for passing this vital legislation. The bills have been sent to the president.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, first passed in 2000, requires periodic reauthorization from Congress. This cycle, the act’s landmark anti-trafficking provisions were spread across four separate bills (S. 1311, S. 1312, S.1862 and H.R. 2200). Together, they constitute the architecture for federal programs across numerous agencies, including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice (including the Federal Bureau of Investigation), Labor, State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

This year’s renewal strengthens several aspects of the U.S. government’s programs. Key provisions will:

  • Provide restitution to trafficking survivors
  • Ensure trafficking survivors, professors and nonprofits help shape federal policy through a survivor council and public-private advisory council
  • Use the Tariff Act to ensure foreign goods tainted by forced or child labor aren’t imported into the U.S.
  • Require the ranking of countries in the annual State Department Trafficking in Persons report be based on anti-trafficking impacts only
  • Increase maximum prison terms for convicted traffickers
  • Train law enforcement officers to identify trafficking victims
  • Educate children about ways to avoid human trafficking and identify traffickers
  • Prohibit overseas U.S. government contractors from charging recruitment fees to laborers
  • Require the U.S. to assist multilateral development banks in creating anti-trafficking provisions for international projects

ATEST thanks the many members of Congress with whom we have worked to bring the bills to final passage with bipartisan support, including Representatives Chris Smith and Karen Bass, and Senators Chuck Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, John Cornyn, Bob Corker, Robert Menendez, and Amy Klobuchar.

The bills passed with overwhelming support, receiving unanimous approval in the Senate and near unanimous support in the House. This underscores that ending human trafficking and modern slavery is a cause that crosses political and ideological boundaries.

ATEST looks forward to engagement with federal departments on implementation of the many provisions just authorized by Congress. ATEST also looks forward to continued engagement with Congress to ensure that all federal anti-trafficking programs are fully funded during the annual appropriations process. It is alarming that some anti-trafficking prevention and enforcement activities and the provision of essential services to trafficking survivors might be reduced or suspended during the partial government shutdown.

Media contact: Terry FitzPatrick | [email protected] | Cell: 571-282-9913

ATEST is a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. We advocate for lasting solutions to prevent labor and sex trafficking, hold perpetrators accountable, ensure justice for victims and empower survivors with tools for recovery. Our collective experience implementing programs at home and abroad provides our coalition an unparalleled breadth and depth of expertise. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Free the Slaves, Human Trafficking Institute, National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, United Way Worldwide, Verité, and Vital Voices Global Partnership.