Congressional Priorities

At any given time, members of the United States Congress are working on legislation to impact human trafficking from varied approaches. Polaris is active in national coalitions supporting both structural overhauls of major systems, such as temporary work visas, and individual trafficking-specific bills.



Priority #1: Fully Resource Victim and Survivor Services and Supports

  • Pass the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).
  • Increase investment in services that support victims and survivors — including the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline (Trafficking Hotline) — in the FY25 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.
  • In February 2024, the House passed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA, H.R.5856), which will authorize necessary funding over five years to strengthen and resource successful programs in combating trafficking. We urge the Senate to also prioritize passing these provisions.
  • As part of this recommendation, we are also requesting increased funding for the Trafficking Hotline. In the last four years, total signal volume to the Trafficking Hotline increased by 40% over the first 12 years of the Trafficking Hotline’s operation, with significant increases in mental health crisis calls, requests for emergency shelter, and need for legal assistance. In 2023 alone, this equated to 14,364 calls, texts, and chats of trafficking situations. Federal funding has failed to keep pace, covering less than 50% of the Hotline’s total costs. We are grateful for the inclusion of $5,000,000 in FY24 appropriations and respectfully request $6,500,000 for FY25 to meet staffing and operational capacity, technology, and data security demands, and ensure that the Trafficking Hotline can address the needs of victims and survivors.

Priority #2: Enact Federal Criminal Records Relief for Survivors

  • Pass the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act (H.R.7137).
  • On January 30, 2024, the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act (H.R.7137) was reintroduced, which would enable survivors to expunge their federal criminal records for crimes committed as a direct result of their trafficking and to provide an affirmative defense at sentencing. This bipartisan bill has garnered strong support from both parties, as well as over 100 organizations across the country, and is a crucial step toward creating a pathway for federally criminalized survivors to clear their records and pursue financial, physical, and emotional recovery. 

Priority #3: Prevent Labor Trafficking through Enforcement and Enhanced Workers’ Rights

  • Pass the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act (H.R.1828).
  • On January 13, 2023, the Biden administration and the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidance on labor-based deferred action, equipping non-citizen workers to file complaints with labor agencies with protection from immigration-related threats. By providing protection against threats and evaluating deportation on a case-by-case basis, the new mechanism empowers workers to report abuse and seek assistance. Thus far, DHS has accepted 450 of these requests. To codify these deferred action protections into federal law, Congress should pass the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act
  • Congress should also authorize and appropriate sufficient funding for enforcement of current laws, including fully funding the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, making it clear to employers that trafficking and exploitation of labor are priority areas for enforcement.

Priority #4: Prioritize Financial Repair for Survivors and Enforcement of Financial Laws

  • Alongside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ensure effective implementation and hold credit reporting agencies accountable for the provisions in the Debt Bondage Repair Act of 2021.
  • Ensure the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) within the U.S. Department of the Treasury issues guidance to financial institutions on its identified national priority of human trafficking.
  • Congress should work with advocates, victims and survivors, and the CFPB on any necessary legislative remedies to ensure that the Debt Bondage Repair Act is implemented effectively, enabling survivors to block adverse information resulting from their trafficking experience from their credit reports. 
  • Congress should also appropriate sufficient funding for the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecutions Unit, including sustaining federal training programs for judges on mandatory restitution, and increasing investigations and prosecutions. Specifically, besides explicitly requesting restitution in every case, prosecutors should prosecute more companies and corporations that benefit from trafficking.
  • Finally, Congress should encourage FinCEN to follow up on its 2021 designation of human trafficking as a national priority by issuing formal guidance to financial institutions. This resource will help build financial institutions’ capacity to effectively identify and mitigate trafficking, and hold traffickers accountable.

For further information or to work together, please contact our Policy Department at

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