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Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Fight Human Trafficking, Improve Worker Visa Program


A bill aimed at fighting human trafficking would streamline data on foreign worker visas and make that information available to the public. The “Transparency in Visa Reporting to Protect American Jobs and Prevent Human Trafficking Act,” introduced in June by Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Florida), Ted Deutch (D-Florida) and Jim Himes (D-Connecticut), would also make it easier for policymakers to determine how temporary worker visas affect American jobs.

There are millions of non-immigrant foreign workers in the United States on temporary visas, and these workers are essential to the success of our economy. However, the current visa program makes it difficult for law enforcement officers to catch employers who attract foreign workers to the U.S. and then force them to work in abominable conditions.

The bill contains a number of provisions aimed at combatting human trafficking and protecting workers in the U.S., including:

  • Establishing a standardized reporting system for all temporary, non-immigrant visas and requiring that the reported data is made available to the public.
  • Requiring that the public report of visa data includes the age and gender of workers, so that demographic differences between the foreign workforce and the domestic workforce can be easily identified. This is important because large differences can help uncover underlying problems, such as human trafficking and employment discrimination.
  • Providing the data necessary to help governments and advocates around the world develop more effective human trafficking prevention programs.

POGO has done much work on the human trafficking crisis, particularly in regard to U.S. contractor operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although this bill addresses a slightly different issue, namely, the importing of workers into the U.S. labor supply chain, it proposes wide-reaching solutions to the human trafficking crisis as a whole.

President Barack Obama’s 2012 Executive Order, “Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking In Persons In Federal Contracts,” understood the gravity of the human trafficking problem: “More than 20 million men, women, and children throughout the world are victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons... to include... the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion...” Whether it is in the Middle East and Asia or here in the U.S., human trafficking victims are suffering under unacceptable conditions, and we must intensify efforts to eliminate this practice. This bill could be an important step towards achieving that goal.

By: Michelle Li
Intern, POGO

Michelle Li photo Michelle Li is an intern at the Project On Government Oversight

Topics: Contract Oversight

Related Content: Human Trafficking

Authors: Michelle Li

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