The global community, including the United States, is only beginning to comprehend the scope and impact of the selling of human persons in the world. As a result, humane responses to this phenomenon have been slow, and education of the public lacking. New efforts involving the entire international community are necessary to eliminate the root causes of it, to offer proper care and attention to its survivors, and to bring its perpetrators to justice. In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 provides an important framework for responding to human trafficking. Sadly, however, it has not been implemented in a fashion which effectively protects survivors or holds accountable nations which do not apprehend or prosecute traffickers. This legislation should be re-authorized, adequately funded, and aggressively implemented. The federal government, in cooperation with state and local governments, should increase educational efforts so that all Americans become more aware of this problem. Similarly, emphasis should be placed on the recovery and care of victims and providing them with legal protection and social services as soon as possible. This is particularly true for child trafficking victims, who are most susceptible to the long-term horrors of this crime. We call upon Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which would provide legal avenues for men, women, and their families to enter the country and work legally and safely. Undocumented persons eager to find work are easy prey for human traffickers. The U.S. government must also work with foreign governments to eradicate human trafficking networks. Over the long term, the global community must work together to reduce the factors which make persons vulnerable to traffickers, such as the lack of economic opportunity in sending countries, especially for women.
As a global institution which is present in source nations as well as nations that serve as markets for human trafficking, the Catholic Church is well-positioned to identify and rescue survivors of human trafficking. In fact, the Catholic Church provides important social services to survivors in the United States and around the world. Much more must be done and Catholics in our own country can help, particularly by educating fellow Catholics and others about the realities of this crime. Parishes can serve as a meeting place to discuss this issue and as a center for action to help identify survivors and provide them support. We call upon all Catholics to seek ways to assist dioceses and local governments in helping survivors. Catholics also can help educate fellow Catholics and others about the human consequences of this crime.