ATEST Calls on President Obama and Congress to Honor Emancipation Proclamation Anniversary and Renew Cornerstone Anti-Trafficking Law

For Release: January 10, 2013
This month, as America celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, we cannot ignore the harsh reality that 27 million people are trafficked each year – there are more slaves today than in any other time in history.

Every day in the United States and around the world, men, women and children are bought, sold and exploited for profit.  They are trafficked throughout the United States into the commercial sex industry, farm labor, domestic work, restaurants, hotels, construction work and other low-wage industries.

150 years following the Emancipation Proclamation, President Obama and Congress should honor this historic moment by taking these concrete steps toward ending human trafficking and other forms of modern-day slavery:

  1. Immediately reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) – legislation which provides critical resources and new tools for those on the front lines in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery.  Despite years of bipartisan support, Congress allowed the TVPA to expire in 2011, leaving critical programs at risk. President Obama and Congress have the opportunity now to demonstrate their commitment to ending human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage and other forms of modern-day slavery and show they can move beyond partisan politics by passing this cornerstone anti-trafficking legislation.
  2. Fulfill President Obama’s recent pledge to strengthen the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. ATEST’s report, “A Path to Freedom” offers a roadmap for the second-term Obama Administration to follow as it works to realize its commitment to eliminate human trafficking, forced labor and all forms of modern-day slavery.


ATEST Quotes:

“Modern slavery is just as horrific and shameful as it was 150 years ago, and yet we have allowed it to become a multi-billion dollar enterprise that claims tens of millions of victims each year. As we honor the Emancipation Proclamation, the symbolic end to one of America’s darkest times, we urge President Obama and Congress to summon the will to help emancipate the 27 million men, women and children still enslaved in the United States and around the world, including supporting the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.” – David Abramowitz, Director of ATEST and Vice President, Policy and Government Relations, Humanity United

“The majority of trafficked women, men and children are caught up in forced labor, trapped in jobs from which they may never be able to escape. They are not invisible or lost in an underworld. They are cleaning houses, catching fish, constructing buildings–jobs for which they deserve decent pay and working conditions, not exploitation and abuse. Any and all resources we have should be made available to combat this despicable practice, and passage of the TVPRA is way past due.” – Neha Misra, Senior Specialist, Migration and Human Trafficking, Solidarity Center

“The time for political games is over.  Congressional inaction on this legislation continues to weaken US global leadership in the fight against modern day slavery.” – Jesse Eaves, Senior Policy Advisor for Child Protection, World Vision

“Outlawing slavery didn’t end it. We need to finish what Abraham Lincoln started. Reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and launching the new anti-slavery initiatives proposed by the Obama administration, will allow the U.S. to make historic progress toward ending slavery once and for all. We owe it to those trapped in slavery today, and to those who’ve fought and died to combat slavery in the past, to keep up the fight. It’s a fight we can win if we all work together.” – Terry FitzPatrick, Communications Director, Free the Slaves

“ATEST’s anti-slavery recommendations are visionary but they are entirely practical and realistic.  If President Obama and his team act on them, the next four years could witness enormous progress in ending slavery at home and abroad.” – Holly Burhkalter, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations, International Justice Mission

“Human trafficking affects people of every nationality, gender, religion, age and socio-economic class. It can occur in almost any industry, from manufacturing to agriculture, from health care to transportation, construction to the commercial sex trade. The foundation of all U.S. efforts to combat modern-day slavery is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which expired last October.  We must work immediately with Congress to reauthorize the lapsed Trafficking Victims Protection Act to provide critical resources and new tools in the fight against human trafficking.” – Avaloy Lanning, Senior Director Anti-Trafficking Program, Safe Horizon

“Today in the United States, children are trafficked for sexual and/or labor exploitation, including being bought and sold for sex on our streets and out of hotel rooms.  Many of these children are arrested and treated as criminals, rather than as victims of crime.  We need to seriously ask ourselves what can we do right now to prevent the trafficking of children?  One step in the right direction is to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act – a law that works to identify and protect victims of trafficking, punish traffickers and prevent these egregious crimes from occurring in the first place.” – Marina Colby, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations, ECPAT-USA