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Human trafficking: Policy solutions

The major law on human trafficking in the U.S., the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) has historically had broad bipartisan support (it has been reauthorized 3 times). It will come up for reauthorization again in 2011. The TVPA provides statutory maximum sentences for traffickers, resources for protection and assistance for victims, avenues for interagency cooperation, and provisions to allow non-U.S. citizens who are victims of trafficking to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. and receive services.

In addition to defining trafficking and guiding domestic policy on enforcement, the TVPA calls for a report on global trafficking in persons (TIP), which ranks countries according to their policies on human trafficking. The ranking is intended to embarrass countries into doing more to combat trafficking. Countries defined as “Tier 3” may also be denied non-humanitarian assistance at the discretion of the president.

Although the State Department’s TIP report is a comprehensive analysis of international policy on human trafficking, some anti-trafficking organizations argue that the rankings are biased towards U.S. allies or that decisions on withholding aid are politically-driven.

Other bills have also been proposed to better address trafficking domestically. Recently, the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010 (S. 2925) would have provided more support for domestic victims of sex trafficking, as there are currently few resources for recovery and rehabilitation for victims. The bill passed both the Senate and the House in December 2010, but differences were not resolved before the end of the last session of Congress.

Click here for more information on U.S. government responses to trafficking and the roles of specific agencies.

Photo credit: anaxila, flickr