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December 19, 2014

Omnibus Bill Increases Funding for Anti-trafficking Efforts

As the 113th Congress winds to a close, the House and Senate spread holiday cheer by approving a spending package that strengthens efforts to combat human trafficking in the United States and overseas.

The FY15 Omnibus Appropriations Act dramatically increases funding for programs that protect human trafficking victims and investigate and prosecute these heinous crimes. Funding for victim services and state and local anti-trafficking task forces through the U.S. Department of Justice increased by nearly 200% from last year, a farewell gift from retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a long-time champion on these issues. The spending package also includes a significant increase of $2 million in funding to serve domestic trafficking victims through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to directly helping victims trafficked in the US, this budget also strengthens U.S. assistance to combat human trafficking internationally. The State Department’s Office to Monitor & Combat Trafficking in Persons received a 15% increase since last year to boost the Office’s capacity to administer anti-trafficking programs. This funding helps fight human trafficking around the world.

We reached this milestone in large part due to the efforts of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a project of Humanity United, and ATEST’s partners, networks, and individual supporters. All of those who participated in the effort to increase resources for anti-trafficking programs should feel gratified by these outstanding results.

Although the gains realized are instrumental to our efforts to fight this complex and intractable crime at home and overseas, we still have a long way to go.

Much-needed funding for runaway and homeless youth (RHY) programs has decreased since FY2012. Homeless youth are among the most vulnerable populations to sex and labor trafficking. RHY service providers operate critical programs: street outreach, crisis intervention, life-saving housing, basic life necessities, and family interventions. Reducing our investment in RHY programs undoubtedly will weaken efforts to prevent trafficking.

This year, we have so much to celebrate. The gains to programs that prevent human trafficking, punish the perpetrators, and protect victims and survivors ensure the promise of our laws against human trafficking will be realized over the coming year. As we savor the moment and the momentum it took to get here, we must not lose sight of the victims who remain trafficked today and our vision to end modern slavery in our lifetime.

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