The Polaris Project is a nonprofit organization, founded in 2002, that works to combat and prevent modern day slavery and human trafficking. Through its Public Outreach and Communications Program, Polaris aims to raise awareness about the problems of human trafficking. The organization also raises awareness about any potential legislation that may be helpful in the fight to eliminate this problem. Here are four critical pieces of legislation currently going through Congress:
1. H.R. 2759, the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. H.R. 2759 would require companies with a minimum of $100 million in income to report the measures they take to address slavery within their business operations to the Securities and Exchange Commission and on their websites. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 14th District), and it was introduced and referred to a committee on August 1, 2011. It has yet to be voted on, and you can take action by contacting your local Representative and asking him/her to co-sponsor H.R. 2759.
2. S. 1301, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2011. S. 1301 would authorize ppropriations for fiscal years 2012 through 2015 for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and enhance measures to combat trafficking. Among many things, S. 1301 would require that each Department of State regional bureau submit an annual list of goals for combating trafficking in persons for each country in its geographic area of responsibility. It would also increase the statute of limitations to 10 years for a person to bring a civil action against another person who had committed sexual- or forced labor-related violations of federal criminal law. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It was introduced and sent to a committee on June 29, 2011, and it was reported by committee October 13, 2001, yet the Senate and House have not voted on it. You can contact your local Senator to co-sponsor S. 1301.
3. H.R. 2730, the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act. H.R. 2730 would amend part E of title IV of the Social Security Act to better enable State child welfare agencies to prevent human trafficking of children and serve the needs of children who are victims of human trafficking. It would improve data collection by adding a “human trafficking” classification to the current child welfare reporting system. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA, 33rd District), and, like H.R. 2759, it was referred to a committee on August 1, 2011. You can contact your local Representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor H.R. 2730.
4. H.R. 4259/S. 2234, the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012. H.R. 4259 and its companion bill S. 2234 both aim to prevent human trafficking in government contracting. These bills would amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and allow a federal agency to terminate a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement if either contractor does one of the following:
(1) engage in acts that directly support or advance trafficking in persons,
(2) destroy an employee’s immigration documents or fail to repatriate such employee upon the end of employment,
(3) solicit persons for employment under false pretenses,
(4) charge recruited employees exorbitant placement fees, or
(5) provide inhumane living conditions.
This is a bipartisan action, as H.R. 4259 was sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK, 5th District), and S. 2234 was sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bills were introduced and referred to a committee Mar. 26, 2012. Please contact your local Representative and your local Senator to co-sponsor H.R. 4259 or S. 2234