Hunter College High School
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Support H.R. 2200 Against Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. And while slavery is legal nowhere, it happens everywhere. In the United States alone, 14,500 to 17,500 foreign trafficking victims are trafficked across borders every year. Globally, there are over 40 million slaves today. 1 in every 200, a slave. Today, slavery often takes the form of forced prostitution, labor, and organ removal. In the past couple of decades, human trafficking has become increasingly deadly. With society’s increasing focus on human rights and equality, traffickers have banded together to create more organized, undetectable methods of terror, the trafficking industry now ranked as the most lucrative business of all criminal affairs. H.R. 2200: Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017 reauthorizes and updates the previous measures taken against modern slavery. Among the initiatives provided by its reauthorization are strengthened laws against trafficking, programs that provide support and care for victims, and protection services from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Below is a detailed summary of TVPA’s initiatives: Before 2000--and the signing of the first Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)--the United States had no bill aimed at protecting trafficking victims and prosecuting traffickers. In beginning the fight against trafficking, the TVPA of 2000 enacted a three-step plan: 1) Prosecution--laws against trafficking with a detailed list of what constituted a trafficking crime. With such a definition, it promised that abusers were thrown behind bars; 2) Protection--helping victims rehabilitate to the United States by allowing them temporary citizenship (T-Visa), and by providing a process by which they could become permanent citizens, enter the Witness Protection Program, and receive care from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As a first step towards victim rehabilitation, giving a path towards citizenship was especially critical since victims had previously been deported as aliens. 3) Prevention--raising awareness about trafficking. In 2003, the TVPA was reauthorized, and under it, trafficking was added as a crime that could be charged under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, a law that provides more extensive penalties for organized criminal acts. Following the law, the Bush administration forwarded $200 million to strengthen the programs that continued to fight trafficking. In 2008’s reauthorization, TVPA expanded to establish more programs to track down trafficking scheme, to require the government to include workers’ rights information to all seeking employment, include more benefits to the T-Visa, and screen all unaccompanied alien children coming into the States to ensure they are victims. The TVPA of 2013 strengthened programs to prevent child marriage and to prevent the U.S. from buying products made by slave-labor. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act has now expired, but we must renew it to ensure the protection of victims today, as well as the prevention and prosecution of trafficking. With its renewal, we allow those programs, instrumental to anti-trafficking efforts, to persist. Today is the age for fighting trafficking--the time in which we should all push for even more legal action against traffickers. In the end, the more we ostracize trafficking, the more we refuse to purchase from companies that use slave labor, the more we push for laws aimed at cracking down on trafficking, the harder it will be for slavery to still exist. Sign today to support America’s legal efforts to end human trafficking!