To the Editor:
I’m grateful for Rep. Peter Roskam’s advocacy for victims of human trafficking coming from the foster care system (“Fighting trafficking in the foster care system,” Aug. 7, 2014). Human trafficking is a horrific crime with many victims right in our own community.
For that reason, though, I was disappointed that Rep. Roskam voted on Aug. 1 to significantly weaken certain provisions of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. This law, signed by President Bush in 2008, ensures that children receive a fair and thorough hearing to ensure that they are not deported back into a situation of human trafficking or other violence. Anti-trafficking organizations such as International Justice Mission, World Relief and World Vision and faith-based groups such as the Evangelical Immigration Table and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops all urged Congress not to alter this important law that is effectively protecting children, so I’m disappointed that Rep. Roskam (and most of his colleagues in the House of Representatives) voted to do so.
Our foster care system needs reforms in order to protect individuals from human trafficking. But so, too, does our immigration system. As the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking notes in a recent report, immigrants are disproportionately likely to be victims of human trafficking within the U.S., and Congress’ failure to reform our immigration laws perpetuates their unique vulnerabilities.
I’m thankful that Rep. Roskam has led the effort against trafficking in one key area; I’m hopeful that he will now help to fight trafficking by fixing our immigration laws as well.