Letter to the White House on 2016 Administration Priorities

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March 8, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20502

Dear Mr. President:

At the most recent meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (“PITF”) in early January, we were pleased to see the progress reported by those departments and agencies across the federal government with responsibility for coordinating efforts to combat trafficking in persons. In particular, we applaud that the PITF marked the first convening of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

At the close of the meeting, Ms. Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the White House’s Council on Women and Girls, challenged those in attendance to feel the “fierce urgency of the remaining 12 months” to cement the President’s legacy by making “as broad and as deep a commitment” as necessary to combat trafficking in persons. Like Ms. Tchen, ATEST and the Freedom Network believe the Administration is poised to realize important gains against human trafficking in the U.S. and overseas. We request that you consider the following key priorities during the final year of the Administration, which are further described in the attached document.

  1. Implement Nationwide In-Person Registration Program for Domestic Workers: In October of 2015 the Department of State launched a pilot program to conduct inperson registration of A-3 domestic workers in Washington, DC. We are pleased that the pilot program, also outlined in the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, is now underway and ask that full nationwide implementation of the program be completed within the year. The inperson registration program is an important tool to monitor the conditions of employment of A-3 and G-5 domestic workers, who are often employed in isolated settings with little access to information about their rights or appropriate working conditions.
  2. Adopt Comprehensive Approach to Child Trafficking When Implementing the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014: The trafficking of children – whether for sex or labor – is a critical child welfare issue. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 requires state child welfare agencies to develop policies and procedures for identifying and serving children and youth who have experienced or are at risk of sex trafficking, reporting these cases to law enforcement, and reporting the number of these cases to Congress. he Administration can and should encourage states to incorporate labor trafficking, alongside sex trafficking, as they develop these new processes.
  3. USG Procurement & the Fair Food Program: The Fair Food Program (FFP) of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) brings together workers, consumers, growers and retail food companies in support of better wages and humane labor standards in the agricultural industry. The FFP is a unique, and uniquely successful, collaboration premised on risk prevention, supply chain transparency, and the verifiable, marketenforced protection of workers’ basic human rights, monitored by the independent Fair Food Standards Council. As President Obama considers further measures that his administration can take to combat forced labor and human trafficking during his final year in office, we urge him to require federal Departments to procure fresh tomatoes (and now strawberries and bell peppers), to the extent available, through the Fair Food Program.
  4. Enforce the Ban on the Importation of Goods Made with Forced, Prison and Forced Child Labor from Entering the United States: The enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act effectively closed the “consumptive demand” loophole to the prohibition on the importation of forced labor contained in the Tariff Act of 1930. Building an effective approach to implementation of this newly robust prohibition could have a tremendous impact around the world. We urge the White House to convene immediately a task force charged with meeting and creating a road map for effective enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other relevant agencies, of the ban on importation of goods made with forced labor, forced child labor and prison labor. A system for enforcement should be in place before the end of the year.

A comprehensive and coordinated approach is necessary to effectively eliminate human trafficking, requiring programming across several U.S. government agencies. The Obama Administration has made important strides in enhancing inter-agency efforts and we encourage those departments and agencies mentioned here, and the others on the the PITF, to embrace the momentum of this final year by ensuring Administration’s legacy is sound and strong.

We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of our requests. Should you have any questions, please contact Melysa Sperber, ATEST Director, at 631-374-0749, and Jean Bruggeman, Freedom Network USA Executive Director, at 202-321-5002. Thank you again for your strong efforts to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.


Melysa Sperber
Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking

Jean Bruggeman
Executive Director
Freedom Network USA


Valerie Jarrett
Senior Advisor to President
Chair, White House Council on Women and Girls

Tina Tchen
Assistant to the President
Chief of Staff to the First Lady
Executive Director, White House Council on Women and Girls

Avril Haines
Deputy National Security Advisor