January is Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month. Naturally, this month is an ideal time to celebrate the progress of anti-trafficking efforts since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). It was, and remains, a landmark piece of legislation promising protection, prevention and prosecution to disrupt labor and sex trafficking in the US and abroad. Today the White House will host a summit to celebrate the 20th anniversary and cite its accomplishments in addressing human trafficking.
But right now, the US is not making progress. In fact, protections for survivors are being rolled back and fewer prosecutions are going forward. The recently released T Visa data from USCIS shows dramatic decreases in approved visas for trafficking survivors. USCIS also reports that survivors are waiting longer than ever for a decision, all despite fewer applications being filed. Across the country, advocates are sharing the impact behind those numbers. Survivors live in fear of deportation and cannot work for two years or more. Some survivors are too scared to even apply. How can that possibly be recognized as progress? This is one example in a long list of policies that have rolled out over the past three years (read other examples including canceling a housing program for trafficking survivors, funding restrictions for post-conviction relief, and false justification for erecting a wall along the Mexico border).
This is why we declined our invitation to the event. Ending human trafficking requires more than a signing ceremony. It requires dedicated and complete implementation of measures to protect those most at risk, provide comprehensive services to survivors, and prosecution of those who profit from abuse and exploitation. Freedom Network USA is proud to stand with other prominent anti-trafficking organizations in protest. We will continue to fight for real reform to protect all survivors, no matter their race, gender expression, sexuality, nationality, age, or experience. That is our commitment to survivors and the advocates that serve them.
Freedom Network USA engages in human trafficking advocacy through a variety of written communications including letters, memorandums, and policy papers. See a full list of our recent advocacy efforts.