By Stephanie Richard
Stephanie Richard is the Policy and Legal Services Director at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) in Los Angeles, California. CAST provides comprehensive social and legal services to survivors of all forms of human trafficking in the United States. It also conducts extensive outreach, advocacy, and training efforts based on a survivors-centered approach to ending modern-day slavery.
On October 1, 2011 Congress allowed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to expire, jeopardizing the U.S. fight against modern-day slavery. On September 4th, call your senators and tell them now is the time for action.
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) serves men, women, and child trafficking survivors in the United States. Our youngest client was 2 years old, our oldest client 72 years old, coming from 22 different countries around the world (including the US) and they have been trafficked into every industry you can think of—restaurant work, brothels, agricultural fields, pornography, elder-care facilities, and forced begging, to name but a few. Despite the rampant problem of human trafficking in the United States, many people still believe it is only an international issue. Tell this to Tina, a 15 year-old US citizen sex trafficking survivor who our program recently assisted in seeking shelter and criminal prosecution of her traffickers or Jonathan, a 33-year old man who entered the country lawfully from the Philippines on a temporary work visa only to face huge debts and threats if he tried to find another job.
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center has received calls from all 50 states about potential human trafficking cases. The most recent US report on human trafficking put out by the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons indicates among other things that the US needs to increase federal resources dedicated to investigating and prosecuting trafficking, provide additional training for first responders, and expand services for trafficking survivors.
Passing the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011(TVPRA) is one of the few things we can do to assist and help trafficking survivors in the United States. The law directly funds the majority of the victim service programs in the United States through the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. The TVPRA also makes several improvements to our criminal and immigration laws to better protect trafficking survivors and help them seek justice. No other stand-alone piece of legislation on human trafficking has ever passed the House and Senate and been signed into law. Thus trafficking survivors both in the United States and around the world need you to take action NOW!
Survivors in the United States need your assistance and support. Please join constituents, like you, from across the country on September 4th, 2012 for the National TVPRA Call-In Day. The Senate needs to hear from you about this important issue that can mean years of continuing abuse for survivors or freedom.
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.