Attorneys general urge Congress to protect trafficking victims

December 29, 2013

Attorney General Beau Biden, along with 46 of his fellow attorneys general, recently urged Congress to provide funding for the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a landmark federal measure that fights the alarming growth of human trafficking worldwide.

Originally passed in 2000 and most recently reauthorized earlier this year as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the TVPRA expanded America’s efforts to protect human trafficking victims, assist survivors, improve prevention methods and successfully prosecute human traffickers. The original legislation established human trafficking as a federal crime.

“The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is a powerful tool to combat the modern-day slavery of human trafficking, not only abroad but, importantly, right here at home,” Biden said. “However, without the financial resources that are required to support federal, state, and local enforcement efforts, our ability to act is limited. That’s why my fellow attorneys general have stood together to urge Congress to fund this important work.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world, generating about $32 billion each year. Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or other areas of the sex industry.

Trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work. Moreover, according to a study of U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens, and the average age that U.S. citizens are first used for commercial sex is 12–14.

“The TVPRA makes significant progress in protecting domestic minor victims of human trafficking, encouraging further education and awareness about human trafficking, providing prosecutors with more effective tools for prosecuting offenders, and funding task forces across the country that battle trafficking each day,” the attorneys general wrote. “We understand the tremendous fiscal challenges the nation is currently facing. Nonetheless, without continued support, much of the progress made in the fight against human trafficking will be lost; ongoing funding for federal agencies, local task forces, and victim services programs is crucial.”

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