The Center Works to Improve State Law and Federal Policy on International Trafficking of Women and Girls

April 19, 2010

For the first time in 2010, the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report will assess efforts made by governments and others within the United States to address trafficking. Because the Center has led the way to assist state legislators in the 50 states to develop effective laws and policies, we believe that our comments to the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Office will be invaluable to this assessment.

Since 1998, our National Institute on State Policy on Trafficking of Women and Girls has led the way in educating and activating women state legislators – and we have brought to them our view, shared by many sister organizations around the world – that trafficking must be understood as a global women’s human rights crisis.
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As of December 2009, 41 states had passed laws that make trafficking a state felony offense. But women and girls trafficked into our Nation and into our states from around the world need much more. That is why the Center is concentrating in 2010 on helping states provide protections from harm and the nurturing and supportive services that victims of sexual violence and abuse require. To learn more about the state laws that respond to international trafficking, CLICK HERE to read the Center’s 2010 State Anti-Trafficking Laws Fact Sheet.
There is much work to be done – and we ask you to join us – because only nine states make trafficked persons eligible for state funded benefits and services -- including cash assistance, shelter, case management, medical and mental health care, job training and translation services. If you do not live in one of these nine states -- California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsinclick here to ask the Center’s staff how you can help us work to improve your state’s victim services laws and policies.
New Federal Policy Needed to Ensure Humane Treatment of Trafficked Persons
We have urged the TIP Office to join us in urging Congress to change the way the United States treats trafficked persons brought into the USA for forced labor. We propose the creation of a temporary trafficking victims protection period that would change current federal law to enable trafficked persons to remain in the USA for 180 days before they must decide if they are “willing to assist” law enforcement. Click here to join our new Global Honor Roll of Leaders for Women’s Human Rights.
The Center also recommends that Congress create four new federal grant programs to support states and non-profit organizations who can provide services for all trafficked persons regardless of their immigration status or willingness to assist law enforcement. The “Legal Services Assistance Program” would support all forms of legal assistance to trafficked persons at no cost to the trafficked person; The “Sanctuary Housing Program” would establish a nationwide system of safe and secure housing and shelters for trafficked women and girls; The VAWA Grantees Capacity Building Program would provide training for existing Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grantees to provide and coordinate benefits and services for trafficked women and girls; The Return and Resettlement Assistance Program would enable all trafficked persons in the United States who request it to safely return and reintegrate into their home country or resettle in a third country.
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