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The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST) wrote the following statement on Executive Order on “Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking”.

ATEST is a U.S.­-based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT­USA, Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), International Justice Mission, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, and Vital Voices Global Partnership. ATEST is a project of Humanity United Action.

While the executive order on “Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking” rightfully recognizes human trafficking as a serious crime, it falls short of the comprehensive approach needed to end modern forms of slavery. A strong law enforcement response is a critical and necessary component of combating human trafficking; however, the framing of this order represents a significant departure from a long-standing victim-centered approach that is critical to successfully eradicating human trafficking and that is enshrined in existing law. For nearly two decades, the U.S. has implemented a strategy centered around protection of victims, prevention of the conditions that allow trafficking to flourish, prosecution of perpetrators, and partnership with civil society and the private sector. By only focusing on human trafficking from a law enforcement perspective, the executive order undermines this proven approach and jeopardizes U.S. leadership on combating this horrific crime.

The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST) has long advocated for the highest prioritization of concerted, strategic action to eradicate human trafficking. We believe human trafficking represents a fundamental threat to American communities, jobs, security, and values. By fighting traffickers who operate locally and also those who operate transnationally, law enforcement plays a crucial role in alleviating the threat of human trafficking — but they cannot conquer this threat alone. The efficacy of law enforcement’s efforts is directly tied to whether they adopt a victim-centered approach, and focus on addressing root causes of vulnerability to trafficking.

The U.S. has until now leveraged the full might and range of U.S. foreign policy, from diplomacy and trade policy to foreign assistance and multilateral engagement, to make a significant impact on human trafficking around the world. However, human trafficking is not only a transnational crime, it is a domestic one. U.S. efforts must address all forms of human trafficking. Trafficking victims are children, women, and men—U.S. citizens and foreign nationals—who are exploited for both sex and labor. Trafficking victims come from urban and rural communities. They are both undocumented and documented immigrant workers. They are not only victimized overseas, but also throughout the United States.

The United States must address this crime in all its forms. To do so, there are a number of areas that it must give significant consideration:

  • Tackling root causes must underlie any strategy for ending human trafficking. The executive order is silent on strategies to prevent human trafficking by reducing vulnerabilities to this horrific human rights abuse in the United States and around the world.
  • Comprehensive services to protect human trafficking victims must be a core component of any anti-trafficking initiative. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 laid out this approach acknowledging that without cooperating and stable victim-witnesses, effective prosecution of human trafficking is impossible.
  • While ATEST supports better data collection to maximize U.S. investments, the safety and security of victims, witnesses, and their family members must be paramount. The implementation of the executive order must not violate the privacy or risk the safety of any victims, witnesses, or their family members.
  • Traffickers often use immigration status as a tool of coercion to exploit immigrant communities, both documented and undocumented. Local enforcement of immigration law, as mandated under the executive order for “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” will irreparably damage law enforcement’s ability to identify, investigate and prosecute traffickers. Both executive orders will result in an imbalanced approach that is likely to exacerbate immigrants’ vulnerabilities and assist traffickers preying on these communities.
  • Traffickers exploit weak law enforcement regimes and abuse legal structures and institutions, and they target the most vulnerable in society. This often includes runaway and homeless youth; foster youth; the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) community; Native Americans; Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; migrant workers; youth of color; children; low literacy or numeracy individuals; and those with disabilities. The executive order is silent on the need to reach vulnerable communities.
  • Promoting corporate accountability is critical to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal networks of human traffickers. The executive order is silent on whether the administration intends to focus on the escalating risks of forced labor and human trafficking in global supply chains.
  • Human trafficking requires a whole of government approach. The executive order is silent on existing interagency frameworks to combat human trafficking, including the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) and the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG). These platforms engage critical agencies like the Department of Treasury that tracks financial crimes, the Department of Health and Human Services that provides support for victim services, and the Department of Labor that protects workers.
  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) implements the U.S.’ obligations under the Palermo Protocol. The executive order is silent on the TVPA and on our international legal obligations to protect victims and address root causes.

We can all agree that human trafficking is a serious crime and needs to be prioritized by the federal government. To be successful in stopping it, the administration should adopt a more comprehensive and victim-centered approach to combating this horrific human rights abuse and crime. The U.S. government can bring freedom, empowerment, and justice to millions of people around the world. ATEST’s new report “A Presidential Agenda for Abolishing Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking” is an urgent call for the new administration to undertake a deliberate, forward leaning, and strategic initiative to combat human trafficking.

5 for Five Challenge 2016

Our CEO, 20160926_074754 (1)Shamere McKenzie, was one of the many speakers at the Fort Bragg Sexual Assault Summit held on Monday, September 26, 2016.  The  Fayetteville Observer covered the event.

“Shamere McKenzie had big plans for her life. She was going to be the next Marion Jones. An Olympian. The fastest woman alive. A high school track star, McKenzie earned a full college scholarship. But then, her dreams fell a part.” Click here to read more.

Click here to listen to a podcast of our CEO, Shamere McKenzie speaking at the Equip for Freedom Conference.

Nursing Textbooks“Gong*came to the United States hoping to study English and eventually become a nurse, but she was ensnared in a sex trafficking ring after responding to a job ad for a Chinese-speaking tour guide. She escaped her traffickers in 2014 and the City Bar Justice Center helped her apply for a T Visa as a victim of trafficking. Her T Visa was approved and Gong was accepted to a nursing program that started in September 2015.”

Click here to read the full story.

It’s that time of year again. A time when many college graduates will walk across the stage celebrating their hard work and dedication.  Some graduates walk across the stage with a big smile responding to the screams from family and friends who came to support. While others walk across the stage with tears streaming down their faces.  Not because it is a sad moment, but tears of joy when they look back on all the hurdles they jumped to make graduation a reality.

We would like to honor two strong, powerful and resilient women who graduated on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Women who have jumped several hurdles beating the odds to make graduation a reality.

 

Aubree Graduation

 

We would like to say congrats to Aubree Alles who graduated from the University of Phoenix with her Associates in Human Services Management.  On June 7th, Aubree will  begin her Bachelor’s program in Psychology as she continues to work towards better services at her safe house and become more involved in public speaking and awareness. The most challenging part of obtaining her degree was juggling work, school, family and ministry. She is very grateful to the Sun Gate Foundation for helping her to get to the next step without an additional financial strain. Her advice to other survivors is “You are NOT what happened to you! Go get em and shine!!!!” When asked what is something you’ve learned about yourself through this process, her response was “anything worth having takes hard work and much effort, there is a process we must go through to achieve greatness.”

 

 

 

 

 

Evelyn Chumbo

 

We say congrats Evelyn Chumbo, a survivor activist, who graduated from the University of Maryland University College with a Bachelor’s in Homeland Security. Now that she completed her undergraduate degree she will be pursing her law degree while assisting survivors of human trafficking to obtain employment. The most challenging part of obtaining her degree was not being able to attend school from the ages of 9 through 17. She is a true definition of an over-comer. With motivation and encouragement from family, friends and the Sun Gate Foundation, she was able to persevere. Her advice to survivors of human trafficking is, “Isn’t easy but never give up on your educational dream if it is what you truly want.” When asked what is one thing you have learned about yourself during the process, her response was, “I have learnt that if you put your heart into what you really want, you can achieve it and never give up.”

 

 

 

 

 

Again, we say congrats to Evelyn and Aubree on a job well done. We are cheering you on as continue to pursue your dreams. We hope that these two over-comers encourage other survivors that they too can pursue their educational dreams.

 

 

reportA huge thanks to all our donors who participated in the 2015, 5 for Five Campaign.  Through your generous donations, we were able to provide textbook scholarships to 8 survivors.  Click on the link for the full report: Spring 2016 Textbook Scholarship1

“A traveling exhibit sharing the stories of female sex trafficking survivors is scheduled to run at the Loyola University Museum of Art from Feb. 6 through March 19. It will highlight victims who have positively changed their lives and their communities.The exhibit, called “More than a Survivor: More than a Story,” originated in  New York as a project of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, the only organization in the state serving girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual abuse and domestic trafficking. According to a GEMS representative, the exhibit is intended to present survivors in an honest and empowering light. ” Click here to read the full article.