On October 1, 2011 Congress allowed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to expire, jeopardizing the U.S. fight against modern-day slavery.
The political wars going on during this election season are not just impacting the outcome of the presidential candidates; they are potentially impacting millions of enslaved men, women and children around the world.
With so many urgent priorities before Congress in an election year, why should we focus on reauthorizing the TVPA and why now? Because this could be the first time that Congress fails to reauthorize the TVPA by the end of its session, no one is certain of the impact on the over 20 million people currently enslaved around the world and the many survivors who benefit from the programs created and funded by the TVPA.
The TVPA authorizes funding for key personnel and programs that contribute to making the U.S. a global leader in the fight against modern-day slavery. Without reauthorization, Congress will not be required to give funding to these programs and offices. This jeopardizes U.S. programs internationally and domestically, as well as diplomats who press for stronger laws and enforcement of those laws abroad.
Additionally, Congress is setting a dangerous precedent for future reauthorizations and sending a signal to other countries that fighting modern-day slavery is not a priority for the United States. By allowing the TVPRA to go unauthorized, Congress is setting a precedent that says it is acceptable to actively side step pressing human rights concerns because of partisanship. This is dangerous, not because it fails to recognize modern-day slavery as an issue, but because Congress ignores it, failing to value it as urgent and serious.
Through the actions the U.S. government takes (or doesn’t take) countries can gauge our national commitment to ending modern-day slavery. Countries abroad will watch the U.S. elections closely to determine our priorities. Congress needs to send a clear message, that no matter the outcome of the election, ending modern-day slavery is still a priority for the United States. Allowing the TVPA to sit, expired and waiting after the election will send a very different message. Our leaders must lead, not follow. Congress must demonstrate leadership in the fight against modern-slavery to protect progress made in the past decade and ensure a strong U.S. response to modern-day slavery into the next decade.
If you truly believe it is wrong to enslave another human being, join Americans across the country on September 4th, 2012 for the National TVPRA Call-In Day. On that day, we will flood Senate offices with calls urging passage of the Senate bill, making sure modern-day slavery remains a priority for our country. It’s up to us to force Congress to end the political division on this issue and demonstrate leadership in the fight against modern-slavery. Join us and learn more at www.passTVPRAnow.org.
Inaction will not stop modern-day slavery. Congress will not act unless you do. On September 4th call your senators and ask them to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S 1301) immediately. Visit www.passTVPRAnow.org to learn more and download resources, such as senator contact lists and suggested call scripts.