ATEST Endorses Key Bills to Reauthorize and Strengthen Federal Anti-Trafficking Programs

WASHINGTON — The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is pleased to announce its endorsement of four bills that will reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The bills each address different components of U.S. anti-trafficking policy and will progress U.S. government efforts to combat the scourge of labor and sex trafficking both inside the U.S. and around the world. The last of the four bills has just been introduced.

The TVPA, first passed in 2000, is one of the world’s most ambitious and comprehensive anti-trafficking laws and outlines the architecture for a whole-of-government approach in the U.S. ATEST thanks the congressional offices whose continued leadership is critical to strengthening and improving the law in each reauthorization cycle. The fact that so many House and Senate teams worked together in drafting the bills is welcome evidence that fighting human trafficking remains a bipartisan issue with strong, broad-based support.

The four bills, by order of their introduction in Congress this year:

  • H.R. 6552 | The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022 | Introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Karen Bass (D-CA) and Michael McCaul (R-TX)
  • S.3946 | The Abolish Human Trafficking Reauthorization Act of 2022 | Introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • S. 3949 | The Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022 | Introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA)
  • S. 4171 | The International Trafficking Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022 | Introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), James Risch (R-ID), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL)

These bills will reauthorize hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on anti-trafficking programs over the next five years throughout the federal government, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, State, Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, Transportation, Education, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Some programs will receive much-needed  increases.

The bills will also strengthen U.S. anti-trafficking efforts through key policy provisions:

  • Many provisions have been broadened to include a focus on both labor and sex trafficking, including the creation of dedicated labor trafficking investigation teams at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and dedicated funding to enforce the United States prohibition on importing goods tainted by forced or child labor
  • The integration of counter-trafficking strategies into all foreign aid programs run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, and a provision to ensure the U.S. champions the inclusion of trafficking assessments and mitigation in loans by multilateral development banks to countries with weak anti-trafficking track records
  • Stronger protection for domestic workers brought to the U.S. by foreign diplomats and staffers of international organizations such as the U.N. and World Bank
  • Creation of a national research agenda on trafficking prevention strategies, and creation of a GAO study on the accessibility of mental health and substance use treatment for survivors
  • Updated rules to prohibit forced labor in U.S. government contracts, and federal travel preference guidelines for hotels with zero tolerance policies for trafficking
  • Mandatory anti-trafficking training for all federal employees, prohibition of retaliation against a trafficking survivor or witnesses in a trafficking case, and creation of multidisciplinary teams at the FBI to ensure proper support services are available during investigations
  • Continuation of the toll-free National Human Trafficking Hotline and the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, which provides expertise to federal agencies from human trafficking survivor-advocates
  • Easing barriers to ensure survivors can get identification documents, and new rules to ensure traffickers can’t avoid paying damages to survivors by filing bankruptcy

There are some instances in the four bills where provisions overlap, and where funding authorization levels are inconsistent. We urge Congress to enact higher authorization levels to ensure programs are fully resourced. We also urge congressional committees, as they review the bills, to consider including additional provisions from the ATEST Recommendations for 2021 Trafficking Victims Protection Act Reauthorization that have not been included in the legislation as introduced.

These provisions include: strengthening the regulation of foreign labor recruiters, increasing transparency and further improving enforcement of regulations prohibiting trafficking in government contracts, reforming T-visa standards, and comprehensively addressing the nexus between human trafficking and gender-based violence.

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 forced 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), Covenant House, Free the Slaves, HEAL Trafficking, Human Trafficking Institute, Human Trafficking Legal Center, Humanity United Action (HUA), McCain Institute for International Leadership, 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.

Contact: ATEST Director Terry FitzPatrick

Email: [email protected] | Cell: 571-282-9913