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Reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

The most consequential federal law on human trafficking is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), originally passed in 2000 and reauthorized four times since. The TVPA provides not just the legal foundation to combat trafficking, but also the comprehensive framework dictating the federal government’s response to the crime. This framework is referred to as the “3 P’s”- protection, prosecution, and prevention. In addition, the TVPA contains the the authorizations for the federal funds used to fight trafficking and assist victims and survivors.

The current set of authorizations are set to expire at the end of September. It is imperative that Congress reauthorize these programs and funding to ensure the federal government continues prioritizing the fight against trafficking. Fortunately, there are many anti-trafficking champions in Congress, and the work is well underway in both the House and Senate to get this reauthorization accomplished.

Three bills have been introduced this year which reauthorizes the TVPA, either in whole or in part: H.R. 2200, the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Karen Bass); S. 1311, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017 (Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Amy Klobuchar); and S. 1312, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017 (Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein). Polaris is supportive of all three of the bills.

Most significantly, all three of these bills reauthorize the TVPA in a bipartisan, uncontroversial manner. Trafficking is one issue where there continues to be strong, genuine support from both sides of the aisle, and the TVPA has a history of being reauthorized from a place of bipartisan consensus. Particularly in this highly charged political climate, it is critical that we do not let partisan, hot-button issues get attached to this very important reauthorization. Divisive issues such as immigration are better dealt with on other bills, and Polaris is committed to ensuring that these kind of items do not get tied to the TVPA reauthorization.

We urge Congress and the White House to continue working to ensure this legislation remains bipartisan and focused on consensus-based ideas aimed at combating trafficking and assisting victims.

Photo credit: Brad Clinesmith / Flickr


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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.