Annual Meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Secretary of State
In 2008, the President spoke at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and he called human trafficking the modern-day enslavement of men, women, and children for sex or labor, and he referred to it as a debasement of our common humanity, which I think sums it up perfectly. As chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, this issue is of particular importance to me as a leader but also to our council, which is represented by all of the agencies in the federal government as well. And it’s why we’re pleased to have you all here today.
We are confident with the Administration working together, with civil society, with not-for-profits, with the private sector, we can actually tackle this issue head on and conquer it. And we’re delighted to have here Secretary Clinton, who has chaired this task force, and I’ll turn it over to her in a second. But I wanted to, by way of introduction, mention that yesterday we were at the State Department for a luncheon with Prime Minister Cameron, and he said about Secretary Clinton that she has been a strong advocate who is committed to the emancipation and empowerment of women. And I thought that that was a perfect way to describe one of her many roles and one that is particularly germane to the topic of this morning.
So with that, again I want to welcome everyone here and tell you how committed the President is to making sure that we are all collaborating and sharing information together and intending to conquer this issue head on. So with that, I’ll turn it over to Secretary Clinton. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, thank you very much Valerie. And thank you for hosting us here at the White House. This annual event is a good opportunity to hear about the progress that our government is making to combat modern slavery and to talk about our goals going forward. And so I very much appreciate the President’s commitment to this work and the collaboration that has been accomplished throughout the United States Government. So with that, I’m delighted to call this meeting to order.
I want to thank Ambassador CdeBaca and his staff not only for the work they put into staffing the task force, but for the zeal with which they lead this fight around the world. Of course, if this issue doesn’t demand zealous advocacy, it’s hard to figure out what does.
This September marks the 150th anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. And it’s a good time for us to recommit ourselves, not only to the promise of freedom, but to the work against ending modern slavery.
Around the world, as many as 27 million men, women, and children toil in bondage. This crime undermines economies and the rule of law. It shatters families and communities. It is an affront to our most fundamental values.
This issue is very near and dear to my heart, since the time I was first lady. And we began a full-hearted effort by our government – both the executive branch and Congress – to address this issue. And I’ve had the experience of meeting with survivors here at home and around the world. I’ve seen firsthand what a horrible toll this takes, and so I’m delighted that we have such a dedicated group of members.
This is a priority in the Obama Administration, starting with the President, as Valerie said. And the first time we convened the task force under this Administration, we laid out a set of commitments – a call to action. And in answering that call, we’ve tried to elevate the fight against trafficking to the highest levels of policymaking.
This goes hand in hand. This is not an individual, one-off effort. This goes hand in hand with other work that we’ve been doing on behalf of women and girls and other marginalized people. The White House recently issued a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security to ensure that women are full partners and participants in our efforts to reduce conflict and promote peace and prosperity around the world, because after all, modern slavery disproportionately affects women and girls. And as it does so, it disrupts family networks, and it undermines the foundation of stable economies and societies. So the Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security contains specific steps to prevent human trafficking of women and children as a result of conflict and to provide assistance to victims.
The State Department has made the struggle against modern slavery an important part of our diplomatic engagement. Our annual Trafficking in Persons Report is the most comprehensive assessment of how well governments are doing to address this crime. The TIP Office’s foreign assistance grants are making a difference in 37 countries, supporting programs that provide crucial assistance to survivors and help governments build their capacity to fight this crime. And thanks to our leadership, the international community is getting behind the effort. Nearly 140 countries have enacted modern anti-trafficking laws, and nearly 150 are party to the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
And we’ve taken action here at home. For instance, we learned that survivors were being made to pay taxes on restitution payments from their abusers. And, well, some of the people in this room as well as colleagues from the Treasury Department who are not with us today saw the problem and said, “This isn’t right; we’re going to do something about it.” So now the Treasury Department has made clear that victims are not liable to pay taxes on the wages of slavery.
Another example: We thought it was unfair for diplomats who victimized their own domestic workers were, because of diplomatic immunity, virtually untouchable. So now, we’re making sure that diplomats coming to this country understand their obligations and responsibilities, and we’re taking action when we have evidence that they are not.
We’re trying to ensure that resources and support are available to victims wherever we find them, and one of those resources is the Department of Health and Human Services National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Its operations have been expanded. It now fields an unprecedented number of calls. And it is really making a difference in reaching out to survivors and helping us prosecute abusers.
Other agencies led by the Department of Homeland Security recently held a public listening session to hear from stakeholders about new ideas for victim services, federal government engagement with local communities, outreach to at-risk groups, and NGO private sector initiatives. Now, we’ve also tried to streamline how we approach cases. And instead of a muddle of agencies claiming or rejecting different responsibilities, thanks to the Departments of Justice, Labor, and Homeland Security, we have in place in the Obama Administration efficient, coordinated, anti-trafficking teams, and they’re making investigations and prosecutions more effective and helping victims.
To help gauge our responses, I’ve included a tier ranking for the United States in the annual Trafficking In Persons Report. I thought it was important, if we were going to be judging other countries, we judged ourselves. And so we hold ourselves to the same standards we apply to others. It’s not only the fair thing to do; it’s turned out also to be the smart thing as well, because including us in the report made it more credible and effective as a diplomatic tool. It shows we’re all in this fight together, that we have a problem, which we are continuing to address, and it’s not just a document that names and shames, but instead it serves as a guide to what practices are working, and more importantly, what every government, including our own, needs to do better, and I greatly appreciate everyone’s efforts on this. This latest publication from the President’s Interagency Task Force Progress in Combating Trafficking in Persons really summarizes a lot of the progress we’ve made in the Obama Administration over the last three-plus years.
Finally, we know that the future of this struggle will depend on innovative solutions, so we are partnering with thinkers whose bold ideas are already helping to make a difference. We now have online tools like the Slavery Footprint so that people can understand the ways in which this crime affects them. It doesn’t just happen to somebody far away, but it does have ripples of criminality that come across the globe.
We have new ways of looking at supply chains and policies, so that can help us cut off the demand that traffickers cruelly exploit. That’s particularly important when you think about the buying power of the federal government. So I think that we meet at a time when we have a lot to be grateful for in terms of the enhanced efforts that we’ve made, the results that we’re getting, but I think this task force is really focused on the challenge and the way ahead.
So let me now turn to Ambassador CdeBaca, who will say a few words about why we consider this such a high priority in our government.
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you, Madam Secretary. It’s this Administration’s priority to give voice to the survivors of modern slavery whether in court or in our foreign policy, but those voices have been calling for justice for more than 150 years. A letter from the National Archives recently surfaced, a letter written in September of 1864 by Spotswood Rice to Katherine Diggs, his former master. He wrote from the lines of the Union Army as he and his new comrades marched back to Missouri, back towards the plantation where he had been held. Among those still enslaved was his daughter, Mary. His strength and righteous anger rings out through the years. And I quote:
“I want you to understand that mary is my Child and she is a God given rite of my own. And you may hold on to hear as long as you can, but I want you to remembor this one thing — the longor you keep my Child from me, the longor you will have to burn…and the qwicer youll get their…
“I want you now to just hold on to hear if you want to iff your conchosence tells thats the road go that road and what it will brig you to kittey diggs I have no fears about geting mary out of your hands the whole Government gives chear to me and you cannot help your self.”
We know from the oral histories that once freed, that little girl lived a long and prosperous life. And in 1937, an aged Mary told a WPA historian: “I love army men. My father, brother, husband, and son were all army men. I love a man who fights for his rights and any person who wants to be someone.”
Slavery and the ways that we fight it have changed so much since Spotswood Rice and those other survivors marched with that terrible, swift sword. But as you said last year, Madam Secretary, when we take up this burden at home and abroad, we do it because fighting slavery is part of our national identity. It’s who we are.
Together, we can and we must rise to meet Spotswood Rice’s challenge to go back for everyone’s daughters and sons who remain in servitude. Together, we can give cheer to those who answer the call and march with today’s survivors on their road to freedom.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Lou. And one of the things that Lou has done over his professional life of commitment to this issue is to continually link it to larger struggles for human freedom, including our own.
I want to turn now to the Attorney General, because the Attorney General and the Justice Department have been great partners in our efforts to combat this scourge. And I want to thank Attorney General Holder.
ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: Well, thank you, Secretary Clinton. And also let me start by thanking President Obama for hosting us and for his extraordinary leadership in this global fight against human trafficking, and also thanks to my good friend Valerie Jarrett for bringing us together today and for her attention to this issue.
It’s really an honor for me to join with my colleagues and partners to discuss the progress that we have made over the past year, but also to identify ways in which we can continue the momentum that we have built up over the past year and make sure that all that we have pledged to do in this Administration actually does occur.
One of the things I would point out is that one of the four priorities that I’ve identified for the Justice Department is that we protect the most vulnerable among us. And this fits right into one of those four core priorities for the United States Department of Justice. For Justice, our commitment to preventing human trafficking, bringing traffickers to justice, and assisting victims has really never been stronger, and our approach, I don’t think, has ever been more effective. Our work has sent a clear and critical message that in this country and under this Administration, human trafficking crimes will simply not be tolerated.
I’m proud to report that in the past year we charged a record number of people with human trafficking offenses, and over the last three years we have achieved significant increases in human trafficking prosecutions, including the rise of more than 30 percent in the number of forced labor and adult sex trafficking prosecutions.
Now, this work is really more than statistics. It has saved lives. It has ensured freedom. It has restored dignity to women, to men, to children, in virtually every corner of this country. We have liberated scores of victims. We have secured long prison sentences against individual traffickers. But we’ve also dismantled really large transnational organized crime enterprises. As many of you will recall, last February the Justice Department launched a human trafficking enhanced enforcement initiative in order to take our counter-trafficking enforcement levels – efforts to a new level.
Now, as part of this commitment, I announced the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team, or ACT Team, initiative that’s an interagency collaboration among the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor, aimed at streamlining federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses. And following a very rigorous and competitive interagency selection process, we launched six Phase One Pilot ACT Teams around the country. And they are located in Atlanta, El Paso, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Miami, and today these teams are fully operational. And by bringing federal investigative agencies and federal prosecutors together, they are allowing us to develop and to advance high-impact human trafficking prosecutions.
And let me just share some examples with you. Over the last year we have dismantled a large transnational organized crime enterprise that held Ukrainian victims in forced labor in Philadelphia. We have brought freedom and dignity to undocumented Central American women and convicted the traffickers who, with threats of violence and abuse, compelled them into forced labor and prostitution in restaurants and bars on Long Island in New York. We have restored freedom to undocumented Eastern European women and convicted the traffickers who brutally exploited them in massage parlors in Chicago and even branded them with tattoos to claim them as their own property. We have secured a life sentence against a gang member in the Eastern District of Virginia, just across the river here, for sex trafficking of victims as young as 12 years old.
By providing grant funding to our state and local law enforcement partners and to victims service organizations really across the country, the Justice Department is also supporting proactive efforts to stop traffickers and to help victims heal and to rebuild their lives.
And for the entire anti-trafficking community, we are continuing to provide training and technical assistance as well. And over the last year these efforts have included hosting three regional training forums that have focused on improving collaboration as well as the development of a training curriculum to help state prosecutors and state judges better understand human trafficking crimes. This is something that has to be done at the state and local level as well as at the federal level.
We’re also taking steps to forge and strengthen partnerships across international borders, understanding that this is not simply an American problem. And we have seen that this effort is really essential. Over the last year, by working with our Mexican law enforcement partners, we have dismantled sex trafficking networks that operate on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and have brought freedom to victims and secured really landmark convictions and substantial sentences against the traffickers in these high-impact bilateral cases. We’ve had good cooperation with our Mexican counterparts.
So I think we can all be encouraged by our recent achievements in the fight against human trafficking, but I think we would all agree that we have still more to do and that far too many people remain in desperate need for the help that we can provide. And that’s why I think that our joint efforts and our outstanding efforts really must continue. I am committed to this. The Justice Department is committed to this. This group that meets today is obviously committed to this. This Administration has identified this as a priority.
So I look forward to our discussions as to where we will go from here and how we can keep working in partnership to increase the impact of these very critical efforts. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Attorney General. Now I’d like to invite Secretary Hilda Solis to share the Labor Department’s update. And I want to thank Hilda for making this a high priority within the Labor Department.
SECRETARY SOLIS: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, and also to our colleagues. I want to also congratulate President Obama and Valerie Jarrett for having this meeting convened here. This is a topic that obviously is very controversial and one that some of us in this room we know take very seriously and, of course, feel that we need to do as much as we can to make sure that every effort, especially at the Department of Labor, is focused in on combating this terrible error that occurs not just in our shores but also abroad.
I want to applaud President Obama. He’s been very clear in his vision for an America built to last, one where everyone has a fair shot at success and where everyone plays by the same rules. Our actions to end the exploitation of workers are critical to achieving that vision. That’s why the Department of Labor is here.
The Department of Labor’s efforts to combat human trafficking have been broad and varied and can be broken down into two – three main categories. The first is detection and law enforcement. Our investigators are on the front lines of trafficking, identifying potential cases and providing critical support such as translation services during investigations.
We’ve revamped the integrity and enforcement actions of our guest worker program to ensure a fair process for employers who use temporary foreign workers and to enforce protections for all of our workers. We’ve now announced new protocols to begin certifying new visas. That’s allowed us to help immigrant victims of trafficking assist in investigation of those crimes.
The second category involves transnational engagement and research. We’ve signed currently declarations with Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and DR to ensure that foreign workers, often the most vulnerable, are informed of their labor rights here in the U.S. This is very important as well because, in many cases, folks come here thinking that there are no serious protections available to them, there is no one that’s going to listen to them, so it’s a course of trying to reeducate people over and over again that there are different laws here, and there is a responsibility and accountability process.
The funding that we have included in these programs includes technical assistance projects and research that we’re doing across the board on child and forced labor across the globe. And since 1995, the Department of Labor has been funding projects to combat the worst forms of child labor. And as a result, hundreds of thousands of children have been prevented from being trafficked.
The third and final category in our efforts to combat trafficking victims is services – services that must be provided, a full restitution for the labor that they have performed. So we are very excited to be working with our friends in Department of Justice and our other sister agencies on these issues. Alongside our agency partners, we’ve been proud to assist these victims by computing the back wages that they are rightfully owed. So that’s a big message, I think, to the overall community that it’s time to speak up and not be afraid to speak out.
Another critical part of helping trafficking victims is to make sure that they have the support they need to get back on their feet, so we’re proud to offer employment and training services to victims of severe forms of trafficking through our network of one-stop career centers so they can enter and get information and, hopefully, get on their feet again. And of course, we’re aiming to support workers.
We’re also aiming to support employers in helping us combat trafficking, so that’s another big part of our effort. Our enforcement officers are working both to ensure a level playing field of law-abiding businesses, because we don’t agree that unscrupulous businesses should get away with this crime, and to protect the rights of workers to deter unscrupulous employers that continue to exploit workers.
Looking ahead, we continue to remain committed to further these efforts. Soon, we’ll be providing awareness training to our national field staff so that even more prepared individuals will know about this issue. We’ll also be announcing a new joint declaration with the following – the Philippines, Ecuador, and Peru – to make sure that their vulnerable workers here in our country know of their rights and protections available.
Additionally, we’ll do more to engage with our stakeholders in this critical issue by hosting listening sessions, roundtables, and making sure that our fact sheets and reports are also equally translated in those various languages that are much needed as well.
Finally, I look forward to partnering with all of you in fulfilling the Promise campaign, which is critical to our collective action on the issue.
I want to thank everyone. I’m incredibly proud of the work that all of you and all of us have been able to accomplish under your leadership in this Administration. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Hilda, and let me now turn to Secretary Sebelius. Obviously the Department of Health and Human Services is an absolutely essential partner in everything we do.
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, thank you, Secretary, for your leadership on this task force. And Valerie, I hope that you convey to the President how important we all think it is that he has provided the kind of vision and leadership that brings us all here today, because this collaborative effort is incredibly important.
On this issue, the Department of Health and Human Services is motivated by the collaboration across federal agencies to raise public awareness and make the most of our resources. And we’re especially motivated to continue the important role in reaching and helping human trafficking victims every day. So over the past year, we have really deployed a lot of assets to our regional offices, 10 of them around the country, who have expanded their efforts to develop staff capacity through multiple trainings and meetings to monitor and combat human trafficking. We substantially expanded our outreach efforts through the Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking campaign, which includes now an online posting of the Look Beneath the Surface training video that is both available in English and Spanish.
During the last fiscal year, we built on our anti-trafficking efforts by providing services and resources on human trafficking through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center. Going forward, the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget includes a new $5 million proposal to award competitive grants focused on reducing the exploitation of children in the form of domestic sex trafficking. HHS also, as Secretary Clinton has referred, funds the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which is a nationwide resource for potential victims and the public who may encounter a trafficking situation.
We maintain a national toll-free hotline that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. And last year, the hotline received over 16,000 calls, a 43 percent increase in the last fiscal year, which I think is both an indication of the depth of the problem, but also an indication that people now are aware that there’s someplace to go for help. Of this total, we have close to 800 cases resulting in direct report to law enforcement, which is a 51 percent increase, so that connecting the hotline with actual action on the ground, thanks to our partners in the Department of Justice, has been a really important initiative.
Through a recently established interdepartmental working group, HHS and other agencies are discussing better coordination of the federal anti-trafficking efforts when dealing with victims and attendant services training and technical assistance. And as a group, we’ve identified the need for two types of call lines – a central hotline for calls regarding victims and investigative tip lines. We’ve also agreed to explore additional opportunities to appropriately highlight and differentiate between the resource center and the investigation hotlines.
So I feel confident that our efforts at HHS, hand in hand with our federal partners here at the table, continue to move us closer to our ultimate goal of freedom for all by bringing an end to this inexcusable human rights abuse.
And again, thank you, Madam Secretary, for convening this critical meeting, for the report that you’re doing, and we look forward to continuing this critical work together.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Kathleen.
Now let me turn to the Department of Homeland Security’s update. Certainly, DHS personnel are on the front lines not only here at home but literally around the world, and we greatly appreciate Secretary Napolitano’s leadership.
SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: And thank you, Secretary Clinton. I also appreciate the leadership you’ve shown on this issue and the leadership of the President. It’s a social issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s a law enforcement issue, it’s a moral issue, and I think that joins us all around the table. We have also been working through partnerships of various types under an umbrella we call the Blue Campaign at DHS. It is leading directly to more tips, more investigations, improved services for victims, and I think will help us serve our ultimate goal of finally getting some deterrence to this issue.
We have partnered with the Department of State to develop two online trainings, one for the federal acquisition workforce. Our contractors have a zero-tolerance clause built into every federal contract, so we’re now training them and also training for the general public. CBP has worked with the Department of Transportation to launch something called the Blue Lightning Initiative, teaching airline employees the signs of trafficking and how to notify law enforcement. We’re working with the firefighter and EMS communities to create training for first responders who may come into contact with victims, and we are in the process of putting the finishing touches on a one-week interdisciplinary training course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, FLETC, which will bring together teams representing victim services, investigations, prosecutions, a first of its kind type of training in this area. And we expect it to be available no later than this summer.
We’ve worked to increase public awareness of human trafficking through targeted video messages and public service announcements, including CBP’s No Te Enganes campaign, Don’t Be Fooled, and ICE’s Hidden in Plain Sight campaign, which reached an estimated 5 million people.
We’ve worked to address and recognize the needs and unique challenges of trafficking victims. We have now put 39 specially trained human trafficking experts in each of our ICE field offices, and we’ve doubled the number of forensic interview specialists. CIS has developed a one-pager for law enforcement on options for victims, including the T and the U visa programs.
The efforts are succeeding. We are finding more investigations with a nexus to human trafficking. Last year, we initiated 722, we obtained 271 convictions. Eric, working with your folks, seized assets worth well over $2 million. We also have seen a steady increase in the number of reports to the tip line, up 69 percent between FY2010 and 2011, and I think looking at the ’12 numbers, there will be another record, unfortunately, in a way.
This year, we plan to do even more. We are requiring all of our contracting professionals to take training on combating trafficking in persons, and we have already trained 600 acquisition personnel on how to use that clause in the standard federal contract. We’re working to assure that age-appropriate care and services are provided to unaccompanied minor children encountered by us typically through the immigration system. We had a roundtable discussion here at the White House with retail, hotel, and airline industry leaders, and also with state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies and associations discussing ways we could work together to raise awareness. We are continuing to deploy ideas from those sessions.
And we are expanding the reach and scope of our free, interactive computer-based training system for local law enforcement partners. We work extensively with Justice, with Labor on the ACT teams that the Attorney General referenced, because those teams, I think, hold great promise in actually dealing with this problem. So we will continue to listen, we will continue to work, and like everyone else around the table, we intend to, if anything, increase our commitment. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great. Thank you very much, Janet. Now let me turn to Cecilia Munoz, the assistant to the President and Domestic Policy Council Director.
MS. MUNOZ: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. It’s a real honor to be part of this gathering today. This is obviously incredibly important work and it falls to me to talk a little bit about the work of the Domestic Policy Council on the domestic side of this issue.
As everyone in this room knows, two years ago, the President forcefully articulated his personal commitment to fighting modern slavery and human trafficking, described it as a shared responsibility. And as we’re hearing today, the – since the President made that commitment two years ago, we’ve been making progress through investigations and prosecutions, the victims assistance programs, we’ve been hearing about technical assistance for states and localities. I mean, it’s a good list and it’s a long list, but it doesn’t involve only the work of government. The conscience of the country was really awakened by the President’s remarks. And we have churches, we have businesses and communities across the country heeding the President’s call to action, finding ways to combat trafficking, and to serve those who have been victimized by it.
The Domestic Policy Council has partnered with many of you in this important work, and the President has really reiterated just this morning in a statement his commitment to these issues. He’s instructed his Cabinet, all of us, to find ways to strengthen the good work that we’re already doing, and to expand our partnerships with civil society and the private sector so that we can bring more resources to bear on this terrible problem.
As the President announced in his statement, in the coming weeks, the White House will build on this gathering on behalf of human dignity. This is an issue that the President understands the way that your agencies do – as a crime, as a violation of universal human rights – and it’s a policy priority on both the domestic and international fronts. We are committed to maximizing our efforts in every way possible, and we’re confident that working together, we can – collectively, we can strengthen the efforts of both the federal government and civil society in ending the scourge of modern slavery.
So our direction is clear. We intend to continue to work in partnership with all of you and your teams. The White House intends to redouble its efforts and build on this already strong record of accomplishment, and we’re going to reach out to our partners outside of government in the hope that, together, we can really make an unprecedented push to raise awareness and have further real and sustained results. We don’t have any illusions about this task being easy. If it – this were an easy issue with simple solutions, we wouldn’t need to be here having this gathering today. But we are persuaded that by working with each other effectively and working with our partners around the country and around the world, we can really bring positive change to this issue.
So we will be working with you to expand the resources, to leverage our efforts and our coordinated – coordinating capacity. And so I look forward to working with all of you to do that. I look forward to playing a role in helping lift up the work that you’re already doing and helping to coordinate it as strongly as possible. And we’re convinced that with this partnership within government and partnerships outside of government, we can make an enormous difference on this issue, and we’re honored to be part of it.
Thank you, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Cecilia. Now I will turn to someone I work with practically every day on a wide variety of security issues around the world, and I’m delighted that he would be here for this meeting.
So, Assistant to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.
MR. MCDONOUGH: Madam Secretary, thank you very much, and allow me to join Cecilia in thanking all of your teams who we get to work with every day on this matter. Let me just take a minute too to highlight our team – Rob Berschinski, Quintan Wiktorowicz, and most especially, Samantha Power, who, on behalf of the National Security staff, have really made this a priority and have been working with your teams to push this through.
Human trafficking is just one of those topics that doesn’t make it in the paper every day. But I think what we see in this year’s report and in each of the reports that are coming from the agencies now is that the work that all the agencies are doing is actually having a very profound, life-changing impact on Americans and non-Americans, men, women, and children all around the world. So it’s something about which I think we should feel quite good, recognizing, of course, as everybody said, that there’s an awful lot of work to be done.
The fact is that the – when the United States Government, when our people, are understood to be an international leader on this issue, it speaks to something at the heart of the President’s National Security Strategy, which he put out in 2010 – one, that we’re strengthened by the power of our example, and that we’re strongest when we’re working to advance the dignity of individuals all around the world. So for us at the National Security staff, this is a national security issue.
It is – human trafficking is at the nexus of organized crimes, is a source for funding for international terrorist groups, is a source for funding for transnational criminal groups. It fundamentally endangers international security. And so while we’re trying to create an international economy in which everyone can choose and be paid for for their work, it, by lifting this up, will strengthen our ability to be a leader in the global marketplace as well.
Now I know Ash, Raj, and Maria have not had a chance to brief out their results yet, so I’m not going to steal their thunder. But I do want to highlight a couple of things that I see from my position in terms of coordinating the interagency’s work on this effort.
First, as I said above, when we lead by example, we’re standing as a model for other governments in how we train our people, hold them to the highest ethical standards when it comes to trafficking, and makes it able for us to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. As Raj will no doubt highlight, USAID has been at the forefront of this effort through the standards it’s applying to all its employees – contractors, subcontractors, and grantees. We recognize that across the government, there’s still an awful lot to do to improve on this in terms of procurement of goods and labor, and the President is demanding that we do more in exactly this area as the report pulls forward.
As Secretary Clinton said, being a model also means we’re willing to place ourselves to the same level of scrutiny that we’re applying to others, which is why he was so appreciative of the report including the United States on the list of countries that are graded in this and State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report this year.
Second, let me emphasize that when it comes to trafficking, one thing that we do know is that we don’t know enough. In addition to what Cecilia has mentioned, in his statement today, the President spoke of trafficking as a form of exploitation that hides both in the dark corners of our world and in plain sight in our own towns and country – towns and cities. We know in certain areas we don’t have great data on the scope of the problem. And in terms of our programming, we may know what works and what doesn’t, but we’re still learning precise causal relationships. That’s why the President’s demanding that we keep the focus on learning and improving on our interventions.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we would urge that on topics like our anti-trafficking work, we maintain laser-like focus on mainstreaming what we’re doing in all our day-to-day operations. Whether in your internal strategy development or in policy papers you bring to the interagency coordination arena, if the majority of your staff are diplomats, are development experts, are service members, see efforts to counter trafficking as a silo, as a job of only people in the Trafficking Office, rather than as a core component of their job then we will not have lifted this up the way the President, Secretary, all of you are demanding that we do.
So I’ll leave it at that. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the tremendous work that all of your teams have – are underway. And obviously, as each have highlighted, I think we’re here to be commended here – on the work done heretofore. And just to echo Cecilia on the President’s direction today, our team is looking forward to working with each of you and your teams on the months to come to build on all the good work that we already have in place.
So, Madam Secretary, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Denis. We really appreciate that overview. Now let me turn to the director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General Jim Clapper.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL CLAPPER: Thank you, Madam Secretary. And again, I join colleagues in praising you for – commending you for your leadership, and it’s an honor to be here. I thought I’d discuss very briefly the intelligence community’s role in combating transnational organized crime, and in particular, the understanding and combating trafficking in persons. My priority in this job is to integrate collection analysis across the intelligence community in line with policy-maker needs.
Now after last year’s meeting of this group, I rededicated some internal assets to stand up our own transnational organized crime team on my staff, and we never had -- in the history of the DNI, never had a single office for that sort of focus. And in line with the theme of leveraging across the government, we’ve become very engaged with the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office, and are experiencing Lou’s zeal. (Laughter.)
I’ve only been active for a short time, but we are seeing an increase, however modest – and I anticipate this will gain momentum through our channels, and I just – I think this is the beginning. We expect bigger results in the future as we continue to strengthen partnerships with key NI human trafficking advocates. And as others have eluded on this issue, partnerships are absolutely crucial to success.
And just to underline a point that Denis just made -- certainly we in the intelligence community recognize this --that trafficking in persons is a national security issue in addition to be a social, economic, and law enforcement issue. And so we’re committed to doing our part to defeat it.
Our efforts across the intelligence community to integrate collection analysis and work with state, local, and tribal law enforcement will improve our ability to combat this appalling crime, and we can and must do more.
In October, my team attended the Trafficking in Persons Reporting Conference hosted by the State Department, Miami; made sure that different agencies within the intelligence community attended. This was the first time the IC has ever integrated with the State Department on this mission of ensuring that trafficking in persons reporting is accurate.
In November, our team hosted our own transnational organized crime event at my headquarters via video teleconference, and it was a global thing throughout the IC to many interested members of the intelligence community. And this was, I think, part of my responsibility to ensure awareness within the intelligence community. And a special presentation by the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons team was the highlight – had a huge impact, feedback I got.
We also coordinate extensively to have attendees who represent the nations we refer to as our Five Eyes allies. Those are the commonwealth countries with whom we have the closest, most intimate intelligence relationships. So I refer specifically to the UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Australian Federal Police, and the New Zealand Customs agency. We’re starting – we’re working towards the goal of a better understanding of the role that trafficking plays in persons in national instability, corruption, and crime around the globe. I think it’s our job to shine a light on those dark corners.
So I’ll just say that we are committed to this and we do recognize that it is a national security issue. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks so much, Jim. Now I’d like to invite Acting Director Zients to share OMB’s update. Jeff?
MR. ZIENTS: Thank you. Now given the fiscal situation – everybody knows that budgets are very tight, difficult budget environment; many agencies are experiencing actually lower budget. In this environment, it’s OMB’s job to make sure every dollar’s well spent and importantly, that the most important priorities of the Administration, of the President, are well funded, and that we allocate dollars accordingly. Preventing human trafficking is a clear priority for the President and the Administration, so we are committed to working with each agency to make sure that we have the appropriate resources to fund these important efforts. I think we have good working relationships with each agency and your teams, but we will make sure that adequate resources are allocated to these efforts. We also stand ready to help – in any way to help manage cross-agency processes to ensure that we continue to make significant progress. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. We like hearing that. (Laughter.) I hope everybody really (inaudible.)
PARTICIPANT: It was the shortest --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. We should meet at the White House more often. (Laughter.) Now let me turn to Deputy Secretary Ash Carter to give the Department of Defense’s update.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CARTER: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. The President’s determination to combat trafficking is reflected in each of the three ways that we, the Department of Defense, touch this problem. Namely, through our own people, uniformed and civilian and their conduct. Second, through our contractors. And the third, in our foreign military training programs. So let me just take each of those in turn.
First of all, for our own folks, both uniformed and civilian, they are required to receive training. I’ve reviewed the curriculum. It’s very good, it’s incisive. It basically has two parts: Don’t do it and learn to recognize it. So let me take the don’t do it part first.
The don’t do it part – you may not know this, I was a little surprised myself, but it has only been recently that patronizing a prostitute became an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It is, and that’s something that we need to begin to and continue and increase our enforcement of that provision. Because in the neighborhood around bases here or abroad, obviously, there’s an opportunity for that. So don’t do it.
And the second part of the training is recognize it. And that – for that, it’s part of the annual training. We also have public service announcements on Armed Forces Network and that kind of thing. If you’re in a gym somewhere around the world or in Afghanistan, you’ll frequently see them to increase awareness and to give the tell-tale signs of it to our people. We do some specific things regionally in PACOM, USFK -- U.S. Forces Korea -- where we’ve had – historically had an issue there. So wherever we detect it, we try to follow up. And there have been some cases recently, which we have aggressively followed up in the law enforcement sense.
Contractors. You know that for every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine deployed, there’s at least one contractor that ends up in theater at the same time. They’re all employed by us. Secretary Napolitano already made it clear. It’s part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and it’s Defense Federal Acquisition Supplement that contracts are to have a provision forbidding trafficking as in any connection with the country. Now, it’s one thing to write it into the contract and you say, “How do you make sure you get it done?” We’re going to make it training for the contractors mandatory, even as it is for our own people, civilian and military – number one.
Number two, contracting officer representatives, a COR. What is a COR? COR is the person who makes sure that the contract is executed. So there’s somebody who follows around the contractor and makes sure it gets done. Those people are now trained, which they didn’t used to be, in recognizing trafficking. So they can see if an association with one of our contracting activities – this has gone on, very important. And we have our inspector general now tracking to make sure that those contract clauses are all there and the contracting officer representatives are, in fact, monitoring compliance with those. Very important, because contractors is a huge part of what we do.
Last piece is our foreign military training engagements. All of our programs, be they 1206, be they IMET, JSET, our training of UN peacekeepers and so forth, it is a required part of that curriculum. If we offer it as a department to another military that it include training for those foreign military members in trafficking, both don’t do it and recognize it. So for example, just to give you one example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, AFRICOM, our African Command, works through DIILS – the Defense Institute for International Legal Studies – maybe some of you may be familiar with – to train justice professionals in the prosecution of trafficking crimes and Congolese military commanders in how to prevent their troops from engaging in this. It’s very important in all of our training. So those are our training activities.
So in those three arenas where we might touch this problem and do touch this problem, we’re trying to make sure that we’re reflecting the President’s fight.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks very much, Ash. Now, Deputy Secretary Porcari, would you please report from the Department of Transportation?
DEPUTY SECRETARY PORCARI: Thank you, Secretary Clinton, and we appreciate your leadership on this. And Valerie, we very much appreciate the clear and consistent direction the President has given us on this. It’s energized all of us.
We want to make sure, first and foremost, that the transportation system is not inadvertently an enabler of human trafficking. We’re very committed across land, sea, and air to making sure that’s not the case. Marlise Streitmatter, our deputy chief of staff, has been our lead person on this and will continue to be, but we’re using all of our resources across borders and agencies to make sure that we can positively impact this problem.
For example, working with Secretary Napolitano in Customs and Border Protection, the Blue Lightning Initiative provides an in-flight procedure to report human trafficking events, law enforcement, as well as awareness for the flight crews. We’ve gotten very positive response from our airlines on this; they’re very interested in moving forward on this. Likewise, on the highways, we want to make sure they’re free of human trafficking. If a commercial truck or bus driver commits a felony, we can take them off the road – and obviously, human trafficking is a felony. This gives us an opportunity to remove the bad actors.
We’re also pursuing opportunities with Amtrak and the motor coach industry to develop a public awareness campaign and specialized training for our inspectors that are out in the field all across the country to recognize the warning signs of human trafficking. We’re also collaborating with our Mexican and Canadian partners to increase awareness, and we look forward to expanding on those partnerships.
There are also some less conventional partnerships that can be very effective. Working, for example, with our local and state departments of motor vehicles, as well as truck stops, to build public awareness, and give people that are literally on the front lines of this fight the tools to recognize and report suspicious activities.
And finally, this really starts at home, and we’re working internally within our Department of Transportation, across all the transportation modes, to make sure that we educate our team on identifying human trafficking, and we’re building, essentially, on the DHS program that’s out there.
So we’re dedicated to moving forward with this. This is an unconscionable and unacceptable activity, and we are looking forward on building the – on the progress to date. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Now I’d like to invite from the State Department, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Maria Otero, to go into a little more detail about what we’re doing at the State Department.
UNDER SECRETARY OTERO: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. And I also want to express appreciation for the leadership that our President is giving us on this issue, and Valerie, convening us here, and of course, express the importance for us to be able to work with every department across the board under the commitment and leadership of Secretary Clinton, who has really enabled our Department to push forward in this area.
Over the last year, the TIP Office, under the leadership of Ambassador CdeBaca, but working in partnership with our regional bureaus and with all of the other colleagues across the Department, we’ve made advances in several areas that I think are important to highlight in addressing the State Department’s response to modern slavery. And let me just touch on a couple of them, as Secretary Clinton has also talked about some of them.
First, the Department – as other departments have stated here – is in the process of developing a training program that is going to be applicable for all of our direct hires. And this is with the purpose of helping all of our employees understand the nature of this crime better. And not only be able to understand it but to be able to recognize it when it happens and to be able to see the warning signs before it is happening and also take action if that is necessary. So this is in the process of being developed, and we anticipate through it that the degree of understanding of this issue will increase by all of those that are working at the Department.
Second, Secretary Clinton, last year at this task force, announced the establishment of a new trafficking investigation unit that would be set up by our Diplomatic Security Bureau. And I’m very pleased to say that, indeed, that was not only set up, but that in fact it has been operating this last year. And it is very exciting that it has already carried out a number of investigations that have led to indictments. And that for us is a real sign of being able to move this forward. The unit’s Victims’ Resource Advocacy Program is also equipped to fully support the victims themselves that are discovered in the course of any of these investigations. So we are applauding our Diplomatic Security Bureau for how quickly they’ve put together this team, and not only set forth its parameters, but also how its work is already showing results.
Third, we’re working to protect the visa holders who come to the United States as domestic servants of diplomats. Thanks to the works of one of our working groups, which is headed by our chief of protocol, we are working closely with the diplomatic community to raise their awareness of this issue and to make sure the diplomats that bring domestic workers to the United States now follow a set of requirements that are in place that will prevent those workers from being abused.
Finally – and Secretary Clinton mentioned this briefly – the TIP Office has partnered with an NGO to develop a tool that allows anybody and everybody to go online, to take a survey, and then to see how many victims of human trafficking it takes to sustain their lifestyle. This is called the Slavery Footprint, and it is the kind of innovation that is helping create change and also create awareness not only of the existence of this crime but also of the challenges that we face in addressing it, and it is bringing people to this issue.
We know that more than three million people from more than 200 countries have logged on to this site, and we’re confident that tools such as this one are going to be some that are going to help make a difference in engaging those around the world in addressing this issue in the years ahead. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Maria. Since we are being broadcast here, perhaps, Lou, you could give the website for the Slavery Footprint, because it’s had a remarkable impact, and we want to encourage everybody everywhere to sign on.
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Certainly. Thank you, Madam Secretary. It’s pretty intuitive. It’s the slaveryfootprint.org – not dot com – slaveryfootprint.org.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. So we invite everyone to log on.
Now let me turn to Dr. Raj Shah, the USAID administrator, who is such a great partner in this and so much of the work that we do.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Thank you, Madam Secretary, for your focus and direction on these issues, and to President Obama for elevating the attention and the resources that we will hope to invest against results in this space.
In the past year, our agency has made significant progress trying to live up to commitments we’ve made around this table for each of the past two years as part of this task force. We are implementing a more results-oriented approach to counter-trafficking efforts around the world, which starts, as Denis mentioned, with the adoption of a strict, new code of conduct for ourselves, our partners abroad, our contractors, and in particular, our security contractors that often operate in high-risk conflict environments. The code of conduct, much as Ash Carter described, will make sure that more people serve as eyes and ears in the search for those at risk or those enslaved. And we have intensified procurement actions and implementation of that code of conduct so that those terms are written into our contracts and enforced through our contracts’ officers and reviewers.
We’ve also launched a new counter-trafficking policy developed in close partnership with many agencies represented around the table. This policy requires every USAID mission in a high-risk country to conduct baseline surveys on trafficking and develop clear metrics to assess progress against prevention for our efforts and efforts of others in the international community. It also directs us to create more multi-country databases so victims can be tracked across countries and supported in their efforts as they – as that is such a critical barrier, having that data be accessible in a number of different environments. And it prioritizes investments in technologies, like mapping platforms, mobile applications, and other innovations.
We also believe that the – one of the challenges is getting the word out and making sure that people who are in a difficult situation have the capacity to seek help. In that effort, we have expanded a highly successful partnership with MTV EXIT into Russia for the very first time, but it is a global program that has had some real successes, especially in Asia. Through the partnership with MTV EXIT, they have created public service advertisements, music videos, and other efforts to create awareness about trafficking and provide hotlines so that people can access resources to fight back. We believe it has reached more than 300 million households in Asia over the last seven years.
And just to share one story that we heard about just a few weeks ago, that for more than three years a young Cambodian boy and his three friends had been essentially enslaved on a Thai fishing boat. Just a few weeks ago, their boat docked at a port in Thailand, and they happened to see on television one of the MTV EXIT advertisements about trafficking. The video flashed a free hotline number in both Thai and Cambodian so the kids could read it and respond. They did. Immigration authorities responded immediately, and they were freed. We seek many, many more stories like this and believe our expanded efforts are helping to get us there.
We also know, as the President mentioned in his statement today, that we want to work more effectively with partners throughout our own country in the private sector, on universities and campuses, and in faith-based communities. I recently visited Bethel University, a Christian college outside of Minneapolis, and I met with about 100 students the day after we had released our counter-trafficking policy, actually, in this room. And sometimes it takes in the federal government – as everyone here knows – some time for these policies to be read by our teams and really inform changes and action and behavior. I know we all address that. Every one of the 100 kids that I met with had already read our policy online, and they had ideas, they had things they wanted to contribute.
So today, we’re thrilled to announce that we will launch a college – a campus challenge to combat trafficking, and we’ll seek to partner with the most innovative, creative ideas in the realm of prevention and protection. And we’ll match our campus challenge champions, the winners of our awards, with our missions in the field, so students have access to many of our partners who are on the frontlines of trying to help victims or help communities that are in high risk. We look forward to working with the next generation of American students to craft the next generation of solutions to this critical challenge.
And thank you for the chance to be here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Raj. That’s very exciting news. Let me now ask Deputy Director Sean Joyce of the FBI to share the FBI’s update.
MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Madam Secretary. And thank you to the White House for hosting this event today. And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people on the street that work this issue each and every day and many of the folks in this room in some of the chairs behind us that work tirelessly every day on some of the policy issues regarding this issue.
The FBI continues its commitment to fighting human trafficking and child exploitation in coordination with our federal, state, and local partners. Over the last year, we’ve increased our resources approximately 66 percent dedicated to this issue, especially against instances of coerced or forced adult labor, in addition to our agency placing a tremendous significance on ensuring child victims are safe, secure, and away from those who would prey on their innocence.
I can tell you I’ve been personally involved in rescuing some child victims, and as a father and a special agent, it is both emotional and rewarding, but devastating for the victims. The FBI recognizes these investigations require specialized resources, and thus we commit 80 victim specialists from our Office of Victim Assistance to our human trafficking efforts. To facilitate our fight against human trafficking and child exploitation, we participate in 77 task forces in 47 working groups across the country.
One highlight is our Innocent Lost National Initiative we started in 2003. This initiative addresses the tragic challenge of children recruited into prostitution. It is supported by the Department of Justice, Child Exploitation/Obscenity Section, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. To date, the initiative has resulted in 1,961 children being rescued. There have been nearly 1,500 investigations initiated, resulting in 927 convictions, to include seven life sentences and several ranging in length from 25 to 45 years.
Recognizing this is also an international problem. The FBI continues to build capacity through a number of training efforts, and in conjunction with our partners in the Department of State, we recently administered a two-week human trafficking course for law enforcement officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama. The FBI looks forward to the continued collaboration with our law enforcement partners, both at home and abroad, to ensure that child exploitation and/or forced or coerced adult labor is met with swift justice.
Thank you, Madam Secretary, for this opportunity.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Deputy Director and Special Agent. That was a very stirring rendition of the great work you’re doing, and I appreciate it.
Let me now turn to Assistant Secretary Russlynn Ali to share the Department of Education’s update.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY ALI: Thank you, Madam Secretary, Ms. Jarrett, and to all of you for your commitment on this issue. Secretary Duncan shares in that commitment and this sense of urgency.
Over the past year, we have set about using all of the tools within our disposal to really launch an awareness through – prevention through awareness efforts in our schools, through technical assistance and supports and training for educators that need it so that they can spot the warning signals. We know that these signals, whether they be absenteeism or signs of abuse or behavioral problems, they prevent children from learning. They not only affect the victim and those at prey of traffickers but the entire school community. And schools have a responsibility and need help and support.
So it is about identifying where those problem areas exist, working with so many of you to target our solutions and our efforts, to answer the calls of educators and school districts around the country that are dealing with these problems in ways that they have never before, helping them with language and talking to school-age children about very difficult and grown-up issues. And how they do that with sincerity and the education they need to help their children be safe is something that is hugely important as well.
We are also doing the kind of technical assistance through web-based tools on what services are available, what supports are available. We’ve brought together, just last summer, over 2,000 educators to deal with issues of climate and safety in their schools writ large and highlighted and focused on issues of trafficking and ways to help. Finding those places that are also doing great things to eradicate trafficking where in exist – a school district in San Diego, for example, Grossmont Union High School, we’ve worked with them to create a training video, which we will disseminate to all school districts that need it as we find those places that are eradicating this and work to take their lessons to scale.
We’ve also worked closely with the Office of Violence Against Women, our colleagues at the Department of Justice, and elsewhere to ensure that we bring best practices to bear and outreach with as many groups as possible and interested on this issue. In the future, we will continue to work with our sister agencies in finding the places that need the help most, understanding the data better, learning about those solutions and bringing them to scale.
We look forward to sharing those tools, like the Slavery Footprint, to working with Raj and others on things like the campus challenge while we do climate checks and climate schools in our schools, making sure that we hear from students themselves on both problems and solutions, and working with our colleagues and our school resource officers and our colleagues in the Department of Homeland Security on training for law enforcement officers on how they, too, can help change the school environment. We will use all of the tools in our disposal to help you and help our schools deal with this tragic problem. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And now let me invite our final speaker, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jacqueline Berrien.
MS. BERRIEN: Thank you so much to President Obama for his leadership and commitment to end human trafficking, and thank you, Secretary Clinton, for your leadership and the opportunity to participate in this very important discussion.
On behalf of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, I am privileged to report on the EEOC’s work to identify and remedy the trafficking of workers. EEOC staff across the country work diligently to protect one of the most fundamental human and civil rights – the right to work without being harassed, intimidated, or mistreated on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability. The EEOC plays an important role in helping to make victims of trafficking whole. We seek and obtain civil remedies, such as back pay and monetary relief, for the harm caused by employment discrimination as well as punitive damages and equitable relief to deter and prevent future discriminatory conduct.
Since the last meeting of this task force, EEOC has worked with enforcement partners at the federal, state, and local levels to improve outreach to vulnerable populations, including victims of trafficking. For example, we trained representatives from state and local fair employment practice agencies to identify and remedy trafficking. EEOC also certified new visas last year to ensure that victims of sex harassment and other discriminatory treatment at work could participate fully in related law enforcement efforts without fear of deportation.
Building on the successful resolution of anti-trafficking cases against J.J. Pickle and Trans Bay Steel, the EEOC is challenging discriminatory working conditions and terms of employment in two recently filed cases. In one case, the EEOC alleges that more than 200 Thai men were subjected to a pattern or practice of national origin and race discrimination, harassment, abuse, and retaliation on farms in Hawaii and Washington. The second case alleges that hundreds of Indian employees were recruited to work as welders, pipe fitters, and ship fitters in Mississippi and Texas, but after arriving in the United States as guest workers, they were subjected to abuse based on their national origin and race and encountered other forms of discriminatory treatment, including segregated and substandard housing. Both of these cases are pending now, and we’re seeking not only relief for the affected workers, but also injunctive relief to prevent future occurrences.
Last January, the commission conducted a public meeting on human trafficking, and with the insights provided by Ambassador CdeBaca and other witnesses, we have redoubled our efforts to identify and remedy trafficking. In the past year, my colleague, Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru, launched the EEOC’s immigrant worker team to improve the commission’s outreach to immigrant workers, strengthen enforcement of laws prohibiting national origin discrimination, and increased collaboration with other agencies addressing human trafficking and related issues affecting immigrant workers. The immigrant worker team of the EEOC will continue to address these issues in 2012.
Once again, thank you for convening us, Madam Secretary. My EEOC colleagues and I look forward to continuing to work with all of the members of this task force towards the goal of ending the scourge of human trafficking.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. And again, thanks to everyone, not just for being here today for this meeting, but for the work that everyone has done since our last meeting. I think it does help to focus our attention that we do have an annual meeting where we come together and share the results of our efforts. I think it’s especially meaningful to be meeting here in the White House, because, after all, this is a national priority, it’s a priority of the President’s, and we do have to do more to reach out to have partnerships with the private sector, with NGOs, state governments, local governments, and the like.
So again, Valerie, thank you for hosting us, and we appreciate the emphasis that the White House has put on this program.
MS. JARRETT: Thank you. Thank you all for being here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.