News from Washington: The President Heard You

On Tuesday, 9/25, the President of the United States gave a speech in New York that squarely addressed the issue of modern day slavery and included several new initiatives to combat it  A Presidential Initiative is exactly what IJM and other groups have been requesting.  In January, 2012, IJM launched a sign-on letter to President Obama asking him to exert his leadership on the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by speaking to the General Assembly about modern day slavery, by “funding the fight” against slavery by initiating new funding for liberating slaves and prosecuting perpetrators, and to eliminate slavery in the U.S. supply chain. 

When we invited IJM friends around the country to sign the petition to the President, we were hoping for 27,000 signatures – one for every 1,000 of the 27 million people thought to be in slavery today.  We reached our goal in a matter of weeks, when along came Passion, the Christian youth movement.  Passion thought it would be cool to stand our goal on its head and go for 72,000 signatures.  We kept the letter campaign going, and between the two of us, reached Passion’s goal by May.  On June 17, IJM President Gary Haugen and Passion founder Lou Giglio personally delivered the letter to the White House, into the hands of Joshua DuBois, the President’s faith advisor. 

We know that White House and State Department staff have been working around the clock for months to make the new steps to fight trafficking announced today a reality.  But I can say that we’re awfully happy that one of the outcomes is a top IJM priority – and one that the 73,000 signers of the letter asked for:  an executive order to end trafficking in U.S. Government contracts to recruit foreign laborers to work on U.S. bases overseas.  The Executive Order is exactly what our letter had in mind when we asked the President to commit to eradicating slavery in the U.S. supply chain. 

Speaking personally, I’m gratified to see the White House engage on slavery eradication in a way they have not done before.  At the same time, it is important to note that neither Republicans nor Democrats own this issue.  Slavery eradication is a priority for the American people across the political spectrum, and Members and Senators from both parties have been active in developing anti-trafficking policy and legislation.  Notwithstanding the timing of President Obama’s speech, there is nothing partisan or political about American efforts to emancipate victims of slavery today, as Abraham Lincoln did 150 years ago. 

Please mark noon on October 1, 2012, on your calendar - we'd love for you to join us on a special call-in with Joshua Dubois, Director of the White House Office on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, to discuss how your advocacy made the difference, and what you can do next to raise your voice so that government leaders hear it and take action. We’ll have room on the phone lines for the first 1,000 people to call in only. Simply call 530-881-1212 and enter the Meeting ID: 417-069-749*

 

*Please note that callers will be responsible for any long-distance charges they incur. 

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