A bill that will empower America in the fight to end human trafficking
Next week, the House of Representatives will vote on the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act (HR 2283). This bill is a cost free (yes, really!) bill that upgrades the Trafficking in Persons Office into the Trafficking in Persons Bureau. Why does this matter? Well, there are currently almost 30 million people in this world who are enslaved. Actually enslaved. Not some silly political or religious meaning of the word. Picture the African American Slave trade but with people of every color. Then, triple that number. Don’t believe me? Google “human trafficking”. In the U.S., the Global Slavery Index says there are tens of thousands of slaves still here as well. Hopefully, you’ve seen news coverage of on this topic. You may have even seen local stories since it happens in every state.
For those who knew that, hang on, we’ll go deeper in a second. For those of you who are just finding out about trafficking and how big the numbers are, don’t worry. If you didn’t know about the problem, you don’t know that there are groups and individuals out there who are pushing well-proven solutions, rescuing people out of it and working on ending it.
Part of the solution is passing laws to make it illegal, impose harsher sentences on those who would sell human beings, and to give more resources to those who are successfully fighting this injustice. HR 2283 does just that.
Every year, the TIP office rates 177 countries on their efforts to curb trafficking in their countries. If a certain country continues to receive a low grade, they lose all non-humanitarian foreign aid from the United States. For some countries, that means millions of dollars. The TIP office also partners with NGOs on the grounds in other countries who are making a huge dent in trafficking.
The problem comes in when the U.S. makes decisions on foreign relations. With The TIP office not being a bureau, they are left out. My friends in the justice department say that the TIP office is actually looked down upon and not taken very seriously. If the office was upgraded to a bureau, all of that would change. Not only would they be included in these important meetings, but they would have direct access to Secretary Kerry like the other bureaus do.
HR 2283 is cost free, non-partisan and simply a no-brainer. While the American people have lost faith in the government, no matter who is in charge, we still have the power to change things. One of the top anti-trafficking organizations, IJM, has been rescuing children from brothels, families from brick factories and so many from human trafficking. They work with countries on changing laws, spreading awareness and making arrests. A successful country, in their eyes, is one where IJM is not needed.
You might think that we should be taking care of our own first. There are fantastic organizations, inside the U.S., who are working on defeating the local problem. I am a part of one in Southwest Louisiana. However, we can do both. The 30 million victims I mentioned earlier cannot compare to the 7 billion people who can bring rescue. It does have to be kicking down a brothel door. It could mean something as simple as making a phone call to your representative asking for their support for anti-trafficking legislation.
Speaking of which, IJM is asking people to do just that. I’m also asking you. Here’s the link with instructions and more information: http://freedomcommons.ijm.org/news/call-congress-today
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Join the fight to end human trafficking by donating to IJM through this fundraiser.
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