Today we gladly and gratefully received a report from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships with its recommendations for strengthening partnerships to combat human trafficking. The report is the product of months of work by a diverse and dedicated group of advisers on an issue President Obama has identified as “one of the great human rights causes of our time.”
The Advisory Council’s report will help support a larger campaign that is being waged by the Administration against human trafficking. Just yesterday, for example, the White House held a forum to highlight the significant progress it has made on these issues since President Obama’s speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2012. The four elements of the Administration’s strategy include:
1) Preventing trafficking by raising awareness among vulnerable populations, leading by example, and educating the public and first responders;
2) Prosecuting traffickers through strengthened investigations and enforcement tools;
3) Protecting survivors through comprehensive social services, family reintegration, and immigration services; and
4) Partnering with civil society, state and local government, the private sector, and faith-based organizations to maximize resources and outcomes.
The work of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is a crucial part of our efforts to advance this fourth objective. The Council’s recommendations demonstrate the commitment of a distinguished set of civic leaders to strengthen and expand partnerships with government to end the scourge of modern-day slavery. Their thoughtful recommendations deserve our close attention.
When President Obama took office, he created the Advisory Council as one way of continuing his conversation with religious and other community leaders about the common good. The President met with Advisory Council members to thank them for their work. Like the inaugural Advisory Council, this Council has proven to be an excellent way of making sure that the good ideas of faith and other neighborhood leaders are heard by the President himself as well as by officials and employees across the federal government.
I would like to thank the members of this Council for their service over the past several months. They have worked collaboratively and thoughtfully to arrive at consensus and have offered us some key recommendations on this important issue. We are fortunate indeed to be able to draw on their insights and benefit from their good counsel. In particular, I would like to thank Council Chair Susie Stern for her leadership of this group.
Now that the Administration has received the Advisory Council’s report, its job is to review these recommendations carefully and to respond. We look forward to doing so in the days ahead.
Many who now live in the shadows are counting on us to see them and to make changes that will help them to reclaim and restore their lives. This report will be an invaluable resource for us as we continue to work to achieve those aims.
Melissa Rogers is the Director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships