It’s easy to get disillusioned with political debate. Frequently, it degenerates into petty point-scoring and partisan bickering. Constructive dialogue, it seems, often disappears out the window.
So it’s nice when an issue comes along on which nearly everybody can agree. One such issue is the problem of human trafficking -- the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit a child or adult for profit. It’s estimated that there are more than 12 million trafficked people in the world today -- a $32 billion industry. Every day, children are forced to perform sexual acts or work long hours in filthy, dangerous conditions for the financial benefit of someone else.
Sometimes, I imagine my own children forced into this position, and my mind almost blanks out at the horror of it.
In 2000, Congress unanimously passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act -- widely regarded as the most comprehensive piece of human-rights legislation in U.S. history. The act has done much to protect the vulnerable and support trafficking survivors. At the same time, it has given law-enforcement agencies the tools to prosecute traffickers -- both for crimes committed in the United States and abroad.
Periodically, the law has to be reauthorized to expand its scope and take into account new ways traffickers have devised to circumvent its provisions. It’s nice to be able to report that Congress has unanimously approved every reauthorization since 2000. They did so in 2003, 2005, and 2008.
But here is where things get disappointing.
The current Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act expires at the end of this month. Bills to reauthorize it are currently before the House of Representatives and the Senate. At the time of writing, the Senate bill (S1301) has 15 cosponsors, and the House bill (HR2830) has 10 co-sponsors.
Frankly, that’s not good enough. We need many more members of Congress to cosponsor and put this vital piece of legislation much higher on the agenda. You can get a quick update on whether your elected representatives have cosponsored by visiting the Library of Congress online and typing the appropriate bill number into the library’s search engine.
World Vision is asking supporters to call their members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor. And if they have already cosponsored, why not give them a call anyway and give them your vote of thanks?
If this makes you feel awkward for some reason, don’t worry. It’s easy and takes only a few minutes. Find the best number to call your senators and representatives. Make the call, follow the simple script, and you’re done. You need not know all the policy details to voice your support for this critical bill.
When it comes to trafficking, it’s easy to think we are powerless in the face of such an enormous global evil. But that view is terribly mistaken. We all have the ability to make a profound difference.
Just how? By picking up the phone and calling your elected officials now.
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World Vision ACT:S is streaming LIVE today, 10 am-5 pm EST, from Ohio State University and George Washington University raising awareness about the TVPRA and the child trafficking issue. Watch the livestream right here, or on the ACT:S livestream channel.
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If you've made the call to ask your elected officials to support the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, leave us a comment and let us know!