Joint Statement on COVID-19 Supplemental Funding

As anti-trafficking advocates mobilize to support their clients and those most vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation during this unprecedented global health crisis, we urge policymakers to prioritize critical supplemental funding requests, including those for direct services, and further ranging policy recommendations to protect the most vulnerable with a focus on human trafficking.

In 2019, the Polaris-operated National Human Trafficking Hotline identified more than 22,300 sex and labor trafficking victims in every state and territory across the United States.  Under normal circumstances, as many as 25 million individuals are trafficked every year, many across international borders, according to the U.S. government’s conservative estimates.[1]

However, we are operating under anything but what may be considered “normal” at this time. Ensuring that supplemental funding and resources are appropriated to programs and services designed to address the needs and pressing realities of trafficked adults and children will protect these marginalized individuals from traffickers and further sexual violence and severe labor exploitation.

  • Communities across the country, including New York City,[2] Southern California,[3] Central Minnesota,[4] Cleveland, Tennessee,[5] Austin, Texas,[6] and Jacksonville, Florida[7], are witnessing how COVID-19 has directly impacted and exacerbated conditions for trafficked individuals.
  • Victims are more easily controlled by traffickers who commonly restrict movement.
  • Vulnerable individuals are at heightened risk to be recruited into trafficking because of increasing financial insecurity in the United States and globally, and many, including undocumented immigrants, have been entirely shut out of newly established social safety nets under the CARES Act.
  • Underlying vulnerabilities, including financial instability, housing insecurity, lack of social safety supports, tenuous immigration status, and language barriers will continue to disproportionately impact trafficking victims as a result of COVID-19 in the immediate and long term.

ATEST, Freedom Network USA and our allies listed below urge congressional leaders to appropriate COVID-19 related supplemental funding to direct victims’ services in the amount of $200 million for existing trafficking grantees and administered through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Trafficking in Persons.[8]

Our collective recommendations represent and stress the importance of protecting vulnerable trafficked individuals through time-tested policy and practice responses.

The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is a U.S.-based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery in the U.S. and around the world. ATEST is comprised of the following organizations: 

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

Verité

Vital Voices Global Partnership

Freedom Network USA (FNUSA), established in 2001, is a coalition of 68 non-governmental organizations and individuals that provide services to, and advocate for the rights of, trafficking survivors in the United States. As the largest network of providers working directly with trafficking survivors in the US, we are uniquely situated to evaluate the impact of U.S. government efforts to address human trafficking, identify challenges, and propose solutions. https://freedomnetworkusa.org/

Allies who join ATEST and Freedom Network USA in this statement:

Anniecannons Inc.

Address Confidentiality Program

Adrian Dominican Sisters, Portfolio Advisory Board

Advocating Opportunity

Anchored Hope Therapy

Benedictine Sisters

Church Women United in New York State

Community Violence Solutions

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

Congregation of St. Joseph

Damayan Migrant Workers Association

Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise

Dignity Health

Empower 225

FAIR Girls, Inc.

Humanity United Action

Justice in Motion

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

LifeWay Network

Lo’Rosa Hair Studio

Mark Lagon, former U.S. Ambassador-At-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and Georgetown University

Maternal and Child Health Access

Maven Women

Mercy Investment Services, Inc.

Mosaic Family Services

My Life My Choice

NC Stop Human Trafficking

Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors

1000 Women Trust Sout Africa

Pax World Funds

Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California

Religious Sisters of Charity

School Sisters of Notre Dame, CP JPIC Office

Survivors’ Network (SN), Cameroon/Africa

Tahirih Justice Center

The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute

The Episcopal Church (DFMS)

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

Waymakers

 


ATEST MEDIA CONTACT:

Terry FitzPatrick, Communications and Advocacy Director, Free the Slaves

E: terry.fitzpatrick@freetheslaves.net  | P: 571-282-9913

FREEDOM NETWORK USA CONTACT:

Executive Director Jean Bruggeman

E: jean@freedomnetworkusa.org


[1] https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang–en/index.htm

[2] https://abcnews.go.com/US/fbi-task-force-focuses-human-trafficking-amid-coronavirus/story?id=70329172

[3] https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-15/los-angeles-sex-trade-coronavirus-fears

[4] https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2020/05/04/services-trafficking-survivors-shift-amid-pandemic-polaris-project-central-minnesota-terebinth/2982980001/

[5] https://wdef.com/2020/05/05/sex-trafficking-increasing-covid-19-pandemic/

[6] https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/covid-19-pandemic-making-it-tougher-for-human-trafficking-victims-to-find-help-advocates-say/

[7] https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/04/08/coronavirus-threat-isnt-stopping-sex-trafficking-in-jacksonville/

[8] ATEST and FNUSA advocate for both domestic and international anti-trafficking supplemental funding in our April 2020 joint statement:

https://endslaveryandtrafficking.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CARES-Act_ATEST-and-FNUSA_Supp-Approps-Ask-April-2020.pdf