This week the U.S. Senate passed the “Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act” (TVPRA). The bill was inacted to address legislature for the current issue of modern day slavery in the U.S. and internationally in 2000. It expired in 2011, due to gridlock in Washington at the time. Texas Senators John Cornyn and new Texas Senator Ted Cruz voted in favor of the bill on February 11, which was 93 in favor and 5 against.
The bill had been reauthorized three times since 2000 but was stalled for the past two years. Where the bill remained in limbo due to conflict between the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The HHS denied grants to the Catholic Bishop because of their religious beliefs, although the services provided by the Catholic Bishops was regarded as excellent to trafficking survivors. This caused a problem with the reauthorization of the bill due to bi-partisan politics.
The current TVPRA has some needed amendments that will help local victims of human trafficking by creating easier access to services for survivors. It will crack down on Americans that are child sex tourist living abroad. And will allow the U.S. to establish strategic partnerships with countries that are combatting trafficking in their own country.
The four main goals of the TVPRA are partnership, prevention, prosecution and protection. The new reauthorization added partnership so law enforcement and NGO's would collaborate together as a way to better address the changing nature of modern day slavery and its victims.
Right now estimates are as high as 100,000 American children are at risk of being sexually exploited through prostitution every year. Which means that there are 100,000 children that are at risk of becoming sex slaves in America. North Texas has been called a hub for human trafficking due to size and location to the border. The national human trafficking hotline reports that calls from Texas make the state rank the second highest in calls to the line, California being the first. The new TVPRA addresses issues for domestic minor victims of human trafficking and will enable these victims to better services in the future.
Now the TVPRA has to pass the House of Representatives where the issue of budget could play a big role in the future of the bill. In Texas, legislators support efforts to combat human trafficking but when money is concerned there is always a chance the struggle to pass the bill will continue.
To get involved in advocating for the TVPRA contact your Representatives and share your support for the bill to continue through the House of Represenatives in Washington.