Human Trafficking And The Election 2012: Part 1 – TVPA
In the run up to this year’s election, we will be releasing informative reports on human trafficking in the United States, to help you become an informed voter on the issue of modern-day slavery. Over the next eight weeks, we will focus on the candidates, propositions and amendments that will come up to the vote in November as well, and America’s influence on human trafficking around the world.
We begin, however, with a background of the policy in place here in the US. Before the first piece of legislature targeted specifically at addressing human trafficking in the United States, the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), the measures in place were fairly inadequate. Malfeasance concerning human trafficking was targeted through specific components of the crime, i.e. immigration or involuntary servitude offenses. Due to the fairly narrow definition of involuntary servitude that only related to physical force, those who were coerced without such force were simply seen as participating in criminal activities. Oftentimes this meant deporting the victim of trafficking who were then frequently re-trafficked due to the stigmatization and ostracization they suffered upon their return.
Much of what has become commonplace in the anti-human trafficking space was created from the the TVPA. As well as promoting international cooperation through the now widely cited Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), the TVPA was able to extend the thirteenth amendment to include human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery. The legislature also permitted survivors of trafficking to stay in the country and gain residency through the implementation of the T-visa system and extended prosecution by increasing sentences for those found to have facilitated human trafficking.
In 2005, the TVPA was reauthorized. Changes included the acknowledgment of human trafficking that occurs within the borders of the United States, classified as ‘domestic trafficking’. Furthermore, resources were poured into rehabilitative services for survivors of trafficking. The TVPA has been reauthorized twice since 2005.
The significance of its reauthorization helps address the ever expanding definition of human trafficking and who may fall under it. The TIP reports are able to chart global trends and illustrate the global nature of the problem. With regards to the anti-trafficking movement at the local level, the increase in funds can help non-profits work alongside law enforcement and provide services for survivors of trafficking nationally and internationally.
In September last year the most recent version of the TVPA expired and is yet to be reauthorized. The United States Congress has until the end of this month to reauthorize. Failure to do so would severely hinder efforts to assist survivors of trafficking from all levels of active modern-day abolitionists and law enforcement officials. Funds to victims would be cut off and prevention and prosecution measures would cease to exist in formal legislature. To bring attention to this, Not For Sale has created a petition to the Members of Congress who hold the power to reauthorize. You can view and sign the petition by clicking here.