Twenty million men, women and children are victims of human trafficking around the world.
What's even more shocking? Your U.S. tax dollars are supporting human trafficking on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, where thousands of foreign nationals working for U.S. government contractors and subcontractors are victims of human traffickers.
President Obama recently issued an executive order strengthening the government's anti-human trafficking policy. This was a great step forward that expanded the definition of human trafficking and required additional preventative action by government contractors. But the president could only go so far with an executive action. Now, Congress needs to give this policy some teeth.
Urge your Members of Congress to include these strong anti-trafficking enforcements in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act - because you never want another cent of your money to finance human trafficking!
I am writing to you as a constituent who is deeply concerned about U.S. taxpayer-financed human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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The U.S. should do everything in its power to ensure taxpayer dollars are not financing this modern-day slavery. That is why I'm writing to urge you to support inclusion of a strong human trafficking provision in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Reps. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) offered an amendment to the NDAA which would add contractor accountability and criminal penalties for human trafficking. The Lankford-Connolly amendment was approved with bipartisan support in the House and attached to the NDAA (Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sponsors the companion bill in the Senate). Importantly, this legislation targets the recruiting and hiring process of both contractors and subcontractors and adds the possibility of fines or imprisonment as punishment for violations of the law.
While President Obama's recent Executive Order goes a long way to help curb trafficking by federal contractors, legislation is still needed to add enforcement that was not possible executive action. Congress needs to put some teeth behind the Executive Order. First, the Senate needs to pass the Lankford-Connolly-Blumenthal legislation when it takes up the NDAA in the lame duck session after the elections. But all members need to let leadership know that they want these reforms included in the final version of the NDAA that is sent to the President for signature.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting submitted a final report to Congress last year stating that it had uncovered evidence of human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan by labor brokers and subcontractors. Commissioner Dov Zakheim later told a Senate panel that the Commission had only scratched the surface of the problem. He called it the "tip of the iceberg."
I don't want one more cent of my tax dollars to go to contractors who finance human trafficking. This is a moral outrage, and it is your duty to fight for tough penalties for trafficking in the final version of the NDAA to prevent modern-day slavery for those workers who support our troops abroad.
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