The law is now up for reauthorization, and Congress must strengthen it and extend protections and services to victims born in the United States.
The legislation provides federal funds to local trafficking task forces made up of prosecutors, law enforcement officials and social service groups. The social service groups are supposed to help identify victims and then provide them with the guidance and support they need to rebuild their lives.
According to federal estimates as many as 17,000 people — most of them women and children — are brought into this country and forced to work in brutal and inhumane conditions, often as prostitutes. The 42 federally funded task forces that have been set up have only been able to identify a small fraction of those victims.
There are many reasons for this. Traffickers are experts at moving people around without being detected. They also train the women they exploit to fear the police. The task forces are often understaffed, with too few investigators to do the job effectively. That needs to change if the country is going to get at this problem...
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