[Excerpt] Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, refers to the subjection of men, women, and children to exploitative conditions that can be tantamount to slavery. Reports suggest that human trafficking is a global phenomenon, victimizing millions of people each year and contributing to a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. It is a centuries-old problem that, despite international and U.S. efforts to eliminate it, continues to occur in virtually every country in the world. Human trafficking is also an international and cross-cutting policy problem that bears on a range of major national security, human rights, criminal justice, social, economic, migration, gender, public health, and labor issues.
Although there is widespread support among policy makers for the continuation of U.S. anti-trafficking goals, ongoing reports of such trafficking worldwide raise questions regarding whether sufficient progress has been made to deter and ultimately eliminate the problem, the end goal of current U.S. anti-trafficking policies. This report explores current foreign policy issues confronting U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking, the interrelationship among existing polices, and the historical and current role of Congress in such efforts.