Reauthorization Act passed the U.S. House at 6 pm tonight and has
just passed the Senate!!!
Dear Friends in the Fight to End Modern-day Slavery:
I am happy to share news with you this holiday season.
U.S. Anti-Trafficking Bill is Unanimously Reauthorized by Congress
On December 10, both the House and Senate passed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. This bill aims to strengthen the U.S Government’s tools for combating human trafficking abroad and at home. Internationally, it focuses on the annual Trafficking in Persons Report as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to increase efforts against modern-day slavery and on child soldiers. At home, the bill aims to enhance penalties for traffickers and better protect victims on U.S. soil – whether foreign nationals or U.S. citizens. Stronger tools at home help us immensely to serve as a model for the world as we urge and assist other nations to confront slavery.
The bill embodies Congressional commitment to abolish trafficking in persons. With support from a diverse coalition, including faith-based and feminist organizations, the U.S. Government will continue to be a global force for change against slavery.
The bill can be read here: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:h7311ih.txt.pdf
T-Visa Holders Can Become U.S. Citizens!
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this week an interim final rule that will allow “T” and “U” non-immigrants to adjust their status and become lawful permanent residents. The rule implements provisions of the primary U.S. anti-trafficking legislation, and provides a pathway to citizenship for eligible victims of human trafficking.
“The action we are taking will further humanitarian interests by protecting victims of human trafficking and victims of other serious crimes,” said USCIS Acting Deputy Director Mike Aytes. “We also believe that law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute crimes is enhanced when we can provide important immigration benefits to victims.”
The victim-centered approach codified in the TVPA must be at the heart of all of our work in confronting human trafficking. I am pleased to finally see the promulgation of this regulation. It reinforces our goal to rescue, rehabilitate, and restore victims of trafficking – whether in commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, agricultural work or in factories.
For more info, please visit http://www.state.gov/g/tip
Exploring the Vulnerability of Migrant Workers
An article I wrote about closing the window of vulnerability of migrant workers around the world to human trafficking for the journal Policy Review appeared this month. You can read it at: http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/35561684.html
I hope it’s of interest.
Happy holidays to you and your families. May the New Year bring us more justice, fewer victims of exploitation, and renewed strength for all of us working to end slavery in our time,
Ambassador Mark P. Lagon
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
U.S. Department of State
The Power of One-Plus-Many Produced Historic Anti-Trafficking Legislation
By Janice Shaw Crouse
On December 10, 2008, Congress passed historic anti-trafficking legislation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) passed both the House and the Senate within several hours. That timely victory was more than two years in the making and represents the triumph of one man's passion and a broad coalition's power.
It is safe to say that the legislation would not exist without the whole-hearted passion and the incredible commitment, dedication, skill and determination of Michael Horowitz, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, who has for over a decade presided over a loose, broad-based coalition of left-right activists who unite in opposition to human slavery and exploitation but differ on almost every other issue. Keeping that group of diverse leaders united and focused is in itself a monumental accomplishment, but satisfying the different expectations required a level of expertise that is rare indeed.
It is also safe to say that the legislative victory would have been impossible without the grassroots involvement of organizations like Concerned Women for America and the Southern Baptist Convention - two conservative groups that have been intimately and extensively involved in the nitty-gritty lobbying and negotiating that were essential to passage of the legislation. It is rare for conservative groups to get headlines for their involvement in what is commonly referred to as "social justice" issues, yet CWA, the Southern Baptists, and the Salvation Army, along with many other evangelical organizations, are usually found in the trenches when such battles are being waged, whether domestically or internationally. Certainly, in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and labor slavery, conservative leaders are essential to success.
Further, this legislation is an outstanding achievement of the Bush Administration, who first called the crime of human trafficking "modern-day slavery." From the outset, President George W. Bush was an outspoken champion of those who are sexually exploited and used as a commercial commodity. He spoke at the United Nations and on national broadcasts about the necessity for protecting those women and girls who are entrapped by the criminal networks who traffic in human beings. No doubt, President Bush's support of anti-trafficking efforts will be a major legacy of the Bush Administration.
Ironically, Bush, a Southern evangelical, depended upon a Jewish strategist to seal the deal on his trafficking and other social justice initiatives. Michael Horowitz is totally unrelenting in pushing for causes that involve human exploitation - whether it happens in North Korea, in brothels and dives around the world, in hovels of the worst poverty-stricken ghettoes of international disgrace, in diplomat's homes in D.C. suburbs, or in truck stops and back alleys of American cities. Michael keeps pushing - even when he is ruffling feathers or attacking those who slack off in the endeavor. He is single-minded in defense of the vulnerable and perceptive in seizing the opportunity for political advantage. His skill in brokering legislative victories is unparalleled.
The specifics of the TVPRA were hammered out by Michael and a wide variety of experts - including both of the Directors of the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Office (TIP), Ambassadors John Miller and Mark Lagon - in hours-long sessions over months and months of discussions and negotiations. The inevitable compromises and changes in language necessary for acceptance were the result of Michael phoning and meeting with various involved parties dozens and dozens of times over the past two to three years. Three senior House staff members received many of those phone calls - David Abramowitz, Bobby Vassar and Lou Debaca - and provided leadership and expertise in the negotiating process. The impetus and passion for the bill's passage came from Michael's demanding phone calls and e-mails that pushed and shoved, praised and cajoled. The wide disparities between various interested parties and the divergent members of the coalition were brought together by Michael's vision for unity in a cause bigger than any of our individual organizational missions.
The TVPRA represents democracy at its best - American people coming together to help protect the most vulnerable among us and to ensure the triumph of the righteous over those who would engage in evil purposes against those who are desperate and at the mercy of people to whom much has been given.
December 11, 2008
To begin: I send this email in prayer for Norma Hotaling's well being -- and do so with the certainty that she will take great pleasure from seeing how her courage (and the courage of other survivors she led) helped bring about yesterday's wildly unexpected results.
Last night, both the House and Senate passed a William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act worthy of its namesake, each by unanimous consent.
While the bill does not provide us with all the tools we need to take on the slavery issue of our time, I regard it -- and believe that future scholars will regard it -- as a spectacular if not historic achievement. Of course, giving full life to the bill will depend on such factors as the appointment by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton of a first rate head of the TIP Office -- a matter about which the coalition should not be passive -- and by our continued efforts to ensure that the anti-trafficking battle remains a priority concern for each of us and for the organizations with which we are associated.
But if this occurs -- and if we realize how strong we can be if we work together -- I believe that we will take the trafficking issue over the top within the next two years, and will thereby advance American values and interests while saving millions of vulnerable girls, women (and male victims of forced labor) from enslavement and destruction.
We now have all-important momentum, joined by respect for our coalition from Congress and all Federal agencies involved with trafficking issues, and we will be held deservedly accountable by today's trafficking victims if we dissipate those hard-earned, precious assets.
As is often the case, u.c. votes often mask the controversial character of the bills they enact, and they often represent the presence of two factors: a) the culmination of intense negotiations between key participants in the policy debate; and b) intense commitments by powerful grass roots movements that Congress believes must be significantly accommodated. Both factors were present in our case, in spades -- and were down to wire. This was evidenced by yesterday's marvelously effective calls to House and Senate leaders made and organized by such coalition members as David Saperstein, Janice Crouse, Barrett Duke, Walter Fauntroy and Logan Gage.
The passage of controversial bills by unanimous consent almost always comes as no surprise because all parties relevant to the debate have signed on to the bill before any vote on them is permitted. Further, u.c. bills often have a bland, "least common denominator" character because each negotiation participant is usually given full veto authority over every bill provision to which he/she objects.
This was not so in our case, as alone evidenced by the fact that senior officials of the State Department and other federal agencies, joined sub rosa by DOJ officials, were hard at work yesterday expressing their opposition to the bill and seeking to line up sufficient opposition (e.g., only one Senator) to block its passage. Satisfied that they had done so, the State Department representatives went home in the early evening after reporting that the bill would not pass. Stunned when it did, they (and officials of the Department of Homeland Security), threatened last night to seek and gain a Presidential veto of the bill. In the cold light of this morning, this threat was (understandably) withdrawn, along with embarrassed comments that the veto threat had not been authorized Secretary Rice.
So much for a veto. In fact, many coalition members, and many of our supporters on the Hill and in the administration, are seeking a Presidential signing ceremony when the enrolled bill is delivered to the White House. (NOTE: The odds of this happening are clearly against us in light of agency opposition to the bill, but our record and momentum is such that prospects for a public White House celebration of the Act's passage are very much alive.)
The diehard opposition of administration agencies to the bill stands in stark contrast to the constructive manner in which Senator and Vice President Elect Biden and Senator Brownback, and their staffs, worked with House Members and staff, and the coalition, to produce the final bill. As all of you know, the coalition strongly opposed the Biden-Brownback bill and was much troubled by the many ways in which the bill negated many of the key features of the House-passed Lantos-Smith bill. Yet, in negotiations over the bill, Senators Brownback and Biden proved themselves repeatedly open to listen to what we had to say, and repeatedly ready to work with House leaders like Congressmen Berman, Conyers, and Chris Smith and Frank Wolf, and Congresswoman Maloney -- and with their key staffers David Abramowitz, Lou DeBaca, Bobby Vassar, Sheri Rickert, Elyse Bauer and Jennifer Keaton. (The same was true of Ranking House Judiciary Member Lamar Smith who through his key staffer Caroline Lynch, balanced tough bargaining skills for issues he felt strongly about with an ultimate determination to support and facilitate a tough, coalition-supported bill.)
Senators Biden and Brownback and their key staffers Jennifer Simon and Lauren Petron merit our deepest thanks, and I believe that their support for a strong bill bodes well for our ability to work with them in the future -- and with Vice President Elect Biden in the new position he will soon have -- as new issues arise and as the coalition seeks to enact key anti-trafficking provisions we were not able to add to yesterday's bill.
Need more be said to prove the bill's value than the fact that DOJ worked tirelessly to defeat most of its key measures and was joined in the effort by other federal agencies and, most particularly, by a State Department which has long and regularly sought to marginalize the TIP Office and the TVPA?
Not really, but initial details follow:
For those who wish to examine its full details, the bill, the report and Member statements in support of the bill appear in yesterday's Congressional Record beginning at pages H-10888 and S- 10886. (To get to it, go to www.thomas.gov , hit Congressional Record and type in the above page numbers.)
In what should be of greater value to most of you, I will be sending the memo being prepared by Karen Stauss and Brenda Zurita that will set out the key provisions of the Act -- including key features of the House bill incorporated into the Biden-Brownback bill, features of the House bill that the Biden-Brownback bill sought to delete, and strong, newly added provisions that appeared in neither bill. The memo should be in your hands by mid-tomorrow.