As the economic crisis continues around the world, more people are becoming vulnerable to trafficking due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. needs to have effective responses to these changing vulnerabilities like homelessness, school closures, high unemployment rates, lack of healthcare, decreased income, and declining workers’ rights. Now and after the pandemic, our foreign policy should prioritize efforts to counter human trafficking and, specifically, strategies to eliminate forced labor in supply chains.
The incoming Biden Administration can lead the world in combatting human trafficking at a pivotal moment in our history, 20 years after the passage of the first comprehensive federal law on human trafficking. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the cracks we knew existed in our society, including inequity, racism, weak protections for workers, rampant homelessness and housing insecurity, inequitable access to resources and healthcare, gender-based violence, threats to LGBTQ+ rights, poverty, and a broken immigration system. Human trafficking lies at the intersection of all these issues and we cannot address trafficking without reckoning with these problems.
As people of faith, we lift up the recommendations recently submitted by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking and ask the Biden Administration to work to implement these recommendations. A whole of government approach will be needed to tackle these challenges and to ultimately put an end to human trafficking.