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A host of Catholic organizations have joined with the US bishops’ conference to sign a letter commending Congress for the passage of the “Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022,” also called H.R. 6552. The bill passed through the House with overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle in July, and now it’s headed towards the Senate where it is expected to swiftly pass.
The letter was signed by Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration; Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; and Sister Mary Haddad, President and CEO of Catholic Health Association of the United States.
The group began by praising the legislation as “critical,” and one that will bolster the nation’s efforts to “eradicate human trafficking.” They noted that the H.R. 6552 falls in line with Church teaching as well as the guidance of Pope Francis, who has called the plight of human trafficking a “deep wound that affects every one of us.”
The letter went on to highlight the Catholic Church as “the global leader in the fight against human trafficking,” as well as the rehabilitation of survivors. They reiterated the USCCB’s call for “all necessary steps to address this injustice,” and noted the previous work of Catholic organizations that has included nearly 150 projects worldwide:
“In the United States, Catholic Charities agencies, hospitals, and other ministries of the Church provide services to human trafficking survivors, including trauma-informed care, housing and nutrition assistance, and workforce development.” The Catholic leaders continued, “Since 2000, Catholic Relief Services has addressed human trafficking through more than 145 projects around the world.”
The group called H.R. 6552 “an important step forward” for the United States in its efforts to combat trafficking. They were especially glad to see the inclusion of the Employment and Education Program, which helps to prevent the re-exploitation of survivors. They also appreciate how the bill will work to prevent child trafficking. They wrote:
“We also welcome the legislation’s targeted efforts to prevent and detect trafficking of school-age children, especially in a ‘linguistically accessible, culturally responsive, age-appropriate, and trauma-informed fashion.’” The letter added, “Further, we applaud expanding efforts to prevent human trafficking abroad by encouraging the integration of counter-trafficking activities in international development and humanitarian assistance programs.”
The Catholic leaders concluded the letter by thanking Congress for the bipartisan support for the bill, which according to Catholic Philly passed in a 401-20 vote. H.R. 6552 has been received and read by the Senate, where a date to vote on the bill has not yet been set. No challenge to the law is expected from the Senate or President Biden.