Tag Archives: Government relations

BREAKING: Anti-trafficking bill passes Congress!

Now, on to the president’s desk!

Today, after more than two years of countless phone calls, frustrating roadblocks, and non-stop prayer, your voices rang through the halls of Congress. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act passed through the House of Representatives -- only a few weeks after the same provision passed through the Senate!

Now, it goes to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

The fight to end child trafficking continues

One year ago, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act -- the centerpiece of U.S. policies against modern-day slavery around the world -- expired because Congress failed to reauthorize it in time. Since then, concerned citizens and groups who work to protect children have advocated for the reauthorization bill to be passed.

Below is our latest update from Jesse Eaves, World Vision's child protection policy adviser.

Now or never: take a stand on human trafficking legislation

Recently, Jessica Bosquette shared how she saw the Trafficking Victims Protection Act make a difference in the lives of children in the Dominican Republic. She also shared that if Americans failed to tell their senators they want the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act to pass, the positive results it has yielded will be gone. Today, Jesse Eaves, WV Policy Advisor on child protection, provides an update on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. He has news that requires a response-- if Americans want to see results, we must act soon.

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There's no doubt about it – it's been a scorcher in Washington, D.C.

Luckily for us, the heat outside is only matched by the heat inside Congress to take action on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) S.1301.

But now we can turn up the heat.  We have to make it a political necessity for U.S. senators to vote ‘yes’ for this legislation.  

Human trafficking: Consequences of congressional inaction

Upon arriving at the courthouse in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, we walked up four flights of stairs and into a sparse, yet lively courtroom.

We took our seats on the wooden benches and listened as a pastor from a local church translated the defense attorney’s remarks from Spanish into Creole for three young men.

I was witnessing my first human trafficking trial -- and the Dominican Republic’s first forced child begging case.

Child trafficking: Notes from the front lines

June 12 is the World Day Against Child Labor.  Globally, at least 2 million children are trafficked annually for child labor and sexual exploitation. World Vision is working in places like Bangladesh, a human trafficking source and transit country, to protect vulnerable children from trafficking and forced labor. Traveling in Bangladesh to see World Vision's child protection programs in action, Jesse Eaves, our child protection policy advisor, reflects on what he sees at the Benapole border crossing between Bangladesh and India.

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I see the trucks long before I see the actual border -- colorful, well-used, laden with cargo and people, lined up one after another on the shoulder of the road.

In fact, I almost don’t even see the border gates for all the trucks and the mass of humanity congregating at the exit point. The Benapole border crossing is the busiest in Bangladesh. More than 5,000 people a day cross this inauspicious boundary with India.

The first thing I notice is that lots of people are trying to enter India -- and almost no one is coming over to Bangladesh.

A cooperative Congress can save lives

Most will agree that Congress does not have a sterling reputation these days -- in fact, it bears the worst public perception of any of our branches of government. Some words you may hear used to describe the deliberating body: dysfunctional, divided, self-serving, broken.

The most recent approval rating for Congress (as of the publication of this post) is a dismal 14 percent. Has it always been this way? Does it have to be this way now?

Child trafficking is no joke

For more than a year, World Vision has advocated for reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The law, which represents the cornerstone of U.S. policies to fight modern-day slavery, expired on September 30, 2011, because Congress did not vote to reauthorize it in time.

As a result, U.S. efforts to combat trafficking are essentially on hold until the law is reauthorized.

Here is an update from World Vision's child protection policy advisor, Jesse Eaves.

An open letter to the presidential candidates

Dear presidential candidate,

I consider myself a good citizen and a patriot. I take pride in my country and care about the well-being of my fellow Americans. I want America to prosper. I hope that the United States will be a global leader for good, far into the 21st century.

Congress: Don't play politics with child slavery

For almost a year, World Vision has advocated for the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVRPA), inviting our supporters to join us in advocating for this bill. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) -- the cornerstone of U.S. policies to fight modern-day slavery -- expired on September 30, 2011, because Congress did not vote to reauthorize the law in time. As a result, U.S. efforts to combat trafficking are essentially on hold until the law is reauthorized.

Here is an update from our child protection policy advisor, Jesse Eaves.

The state of America's children

Have you ever asked yourself, “What am I doing to make my community, my country, and my world a better place?”

Perhaps you asked yourself something similar in your new year resolutions; or perhaps you ask it when you look at your own children. As a mother of three, I find myself doing this.

As I reflect on the words of President Obama's State of the Union address from last night, this is the question I hope we are all asking -- and doing something about it.

Combining our efforts to protect victims of human trafficking

It goes without saying that this year has been one of the craziest in the history of Congress. Despite all the ups and downs and swings of momentum in moving the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act forward, one thing has remained constant: our advocates’ dedication to stand up and make their voices heard.

It’s safe to say that neither the House nor the Senate versions of this legislation would be where they are without those voices.

The beginning of the end of AIDS

Last week, the world commemorated the 23rd annual World AIDS Day -- a day in which we remembered the 30 million lives that have been tragically lost, showed solidarity with 34 million people around the world living with HIV, and, most importantly, rededicated ourselves to the cause of ending the epidemic.

I had the privilege to attend a forum sponsored by ONE and (RED) at George Washington University entitled “The Beginning of the End of AIDS” that was simulcast live by YouTube. Among the participants were President Barack Obama, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Kay Warren, and Bono.

Dear G20: Remember the real 99%

Cannes, France, is world-renowned for its glamor, beauty, and opulence. This week, the playground destination for the rich and famous is filled with politicians, media, and NGO representatives, as the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies gather for the annual G20 Summit. And as the Eurozone crisis deepens and the U.S. economy remains unsteady, the stakes couldn’t be much higher.

These issues must be discussed, and the G20 is a crucial forum to have these discussions. But there’s much more to this story. Right now, in cities around the world, there is a growing protest movement putting the issue of inequality squarely on the public agenda. Regardless how you feel about the movement, I believe there is another 99 percent whom we need the G20 -- and other global leaders -- to remember and prioritize.

Don't leave child health up to chance -- Highlights from the G20 Summit in France

This week in Paris, world leaders are meeting at the annual G20 Summit. I'm here with my media, government relations, and child health colleagues from around the globe who work tirelessly, not just this week but every week of the year, to bring attention to child health issues around the world.

As part of our awareness campaign at this year's G20, World Vision urged Parisians to participate in a game of chance, spinning a colorful wheel to see what kind of life they might live based simply on where they were born.  Chance dictates where each of us is born – and whether or not we will have enough to eat, be able to attend school, or live to see past our fifth birthday.

What our nation’s top leaders have to say – My notes from the FWD campaign live stream

Yesterday I tuned in to the official launch of the FWD (Famine. War. Drought.) campaign following the White House live streamed video web chat. As a representative of World Vision but also as a private citizen, I was interested in what some of our nation’s top officials had to say about the U.S. response to some of the greatest crises yet in the 21st century.

I captured some highlights from the discussion to share with you, and have noted the minute mark for many of the questions asked. This is not an exact transcription, but a paraphrased overview.

The state of play in the Horn of Africa: -- Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council

The people in the region are experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. That means that farmers have very little to fall back on. People are literally dying as we speak. Without assistance, they will in fact die.

The importance of acting now:, Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator

There are 13 million people who are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa. Already more than 30,000 children have lost their lives from starvation or the consequences of severe malnutrition and the disease that accompanies it. The UN estimates that number could grow to 750,000 over the course of the next six months.

Now is the time to act. This is also a moment to acknowledge that when we do these actions, it is an expression of American values. The more Americans that can engage in the response, the better off we will all be in saving lives today and putting in place the systems that can help prevent these tragedies in the future.

Should U.S. give a free pass to countries that use child soldiers?

As a humanitarian worker, a child protection expert, and as a U.S. citizen, I have certain expectations -- some call them naive ideals -- that the U.S. government will work to reduce the vulnerability of children around the world and here in the United States.

Laws like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the PROTECT Act, and the Child Soldier Prevention Act have all set in place strict policies that made America the global leader in working to prevent and respond to vulnerability among children.

That’s why, on October 4, I was angry, and, to be honest, feeling slightly betrayed. On October 4, the Obama administration announced the latest round of guidelines outlining how, for the second year in a row, the federal government will provide military aid to countries whose armed forces recruit and use child soldiers.

Q & A with USAID's Raj Shah on the Horn of Africa and foreign assistance

On Tuesday, Dr. Raj Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), visited World Vision's U.S. headquarters in Federal Way, Washington, to talk to our staff about faith and global development. After his speech -- which included a call for Americans and the American church community to continue supporting the United States as a leader in bringing relief to those suffering from poverty around the globe -- I had the great privilege of talking to Dr. Shah for a little more in-depth Q & A.

Here is the transcript of our conversation:

JAMES: Did Horn of Africa governments respond quickly enough to early warnings [of the food crisis and famine]?

DR. SHAH: It’s important to put this in context and recognize that the famine early warning system did generate knowledge of this crisis before it happened. The Ethiopian and Kenyan governments -- and the United States and a range of other partners, including the World Bank -- did work together in advance of this to put in place poverty safety-net programs that today are effectively protecting millions and millions of people. This is why we are not seeing large-scale child deaths in Kenya and Ethiopia, despite the fact that this drought is actually worse than previous ones. In Somalia, it’s a very different story, because access for humanitarian partners has been highly impeded by militias and al-Shabaab. The direct consequence of this is a famine that has taken tens of thousands of children who otherwise would not have died. The United States is doing everything it can, working with a broad range of international partners, both to save lives now and to put into place our Feed the Future programs so that future droughts don’t lead to these catastrophes. And we are already seeing some important policy reform measures that the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments are taking to liberalize their agricultural economies and allow for more agricultural development to achieve their own degree of food security.

Should we pray for our public leaders as much as we pray for ourselves?

Should we pray for our public leaders as much as we pray for ourselves? When praying for our elected officials, what should we be praying for?

These are the questions I ask myself every year around this time in October as the first of the month marked the start of a new fiscal year for our federal government. That means some reflection on the past fiscal year, including major accomplishments and major deficits regarding federal policies. In my position at World Vision, these are especially important.

October 1 is also the first day of a new fiscal year for World Vision offices. To appropriately honor the day, our staff members, volunteers, and World Vision supporters from all around the world commit the day to prayer for direction, encouragement, and renewal in the fiscal year ahead. It's an important tradition that World Vision looks forward to each year.

Although our federal government isn't tied to the same Christian mission as our organization, my role working in government relations calls me to reflect on the previous federal fiscal year, too. This includes the bills enacted with the support of World Vision's advocates and campaigns -- like the Child Soldier Prevention Act, the Sudan Peace Act, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, to name a few.

Your chance to fight human trafficking [Livestream]

It’s easy to get disillusioned with political debate. Frequently, it degenerates into petty point-scoring and partisan bickering. Constructive dialogue, it seems, often disappears out the window.

So it’s nice when an issue comes along on which nearly everybody can agree. One such issue is the problem of human trafficking -- the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit a child or adult for profit. It’s estimated that there are more than 12 million trafficked people in the world today -- a $32 billion industry. Every day, children are forced to perform sexual acts or work long hours in filthy, dangerous conditions for the financial benefit of someone else.

Sometimes, I imagine my own children forced into this position, and my mind almost blanks out at the horror of it.

In 2000, Congress unanimously passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act -- widely regarded as the most comprehensive piece of human-rights legislation in U.S. history. The act has done much to protect the vulnerable and support trafficking survivors. At the same time, it has given law-enforcement agencies the tools to prosecute traffickers -- both for crimes committed in the United States and abroad.