In the coming days, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 5856). This bipartisan bill would do several things to combat the scourge of human trafficking, including:  

  • Reauthorize various programs under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through Fiscal Year 2028 (which lapsed September 30, 2021), with approximately $1 billion in funding for anti-trafficking efforts over the next five years; 
  • Authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out a Human Trafficking Survivors Employment and Education Program to prevent the re-exploitation of eligible individuals with services that help them to attain life skills, employment, and education necessary to achieve self-sufficiency; 
  • Authorize grants for programs that prevent and detect trafficking of school-age children in a “linguistically accessible, culturally responsive, age-appropriate, and trauma-informed fashion”; and 
  • Require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to encourage integration of activities to counter human trafficking into its broader programming.  

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration formally endorsed the bill with other Catholic organizations during the previous Congress, stating at the time that “this legislation is critical for continuing and bolstering our nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking and assist human trafficking survivors. I join our Holy Father in inviting the faithful and all people of good will to uphold and affirm human dignity and grow in solidarity with those who are vulnerable to exploitation and have been impacted by this terrible evil of modern-day slavery.”  

More recently, in a press release reaffirming the USCCB’s support for the bill, Bishop Mark Seitz, current chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, emphasized that it “is incumbent upon all of us to unite in promoting efforts that prevent the evil of human trafficking.”  

With the Catholic Church around the world commemorating the Feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, patroness of trafficking victims, and the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on February 8, now is a perfect time to stand with survivors of human trafficking by completing this action alert in support of H.R. 5856.  

You can learn more about human trafficking and the Church’s anti-trafficking efforts by reading this explainer and by visiting the Justice for Immigrants campaign’s Saint Josephine Bakhita webpage.  

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