RECESS IS OVER AND MUCH TO DO
I have many friends who are legislative aides in the House and Senate, both Democrats and Republicans. They are much on my heart this week, as legislators returned to Washington from a five-week recess. They and their hard-working staff are taking up the solemn issue of whether to approve the use of force against the Syrian government in the wake of the regime’s recent use of chemical weapons against the civilian population near Damascus. Legislative aides and their bosses will also be struggling with a broken budget process that may well end up in a government shut-down in coming weeks, and increasing tensions between the executive and legislative branches.
A LITTLE HELP FOR THE HILL TRIBESRead More
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. In honor of the event, President Obama spoke from the same steps where, years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. had offered America his dream so famously. Witnessing all was the memorialized sixteenth president, sitting silently in grandeur, framing the scene.
Sara Pomeroy is the founder of Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI), an organization of volunteer modern-day abolitionists who use their gifts and talents in the fight against human trafficking. On September 5, 2013, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced great strides in taking on the problem of human trafficking. Sara and her group celebrated this progress but also emphasized the need for continued action. She agreed to share with us about her experiences as an advocate and how her faith has motivated her in her work.Read More
August is typically dead as a doornail in my town. The Members and Senators and a good portion of their staff have fled during the Congressional recess, and for good reason. The climate in Washington, DC, in this dullest of months is not for the faint of heart. Everybody who can leave does leave.
But happily, advocating for strong U.S. policies to fight slavery around the world doesn’t have to happen here in Washington. As I write this, some 400 friends of IJM from all 50 states are participating in meetings in their own states and towns with Members and Senators who are back for in-district meetings, or with their locally-based staff.Read More
The Halls of Hart
I can vividly remember walking up to the U.S. Senate Hart Building the day following the 2004 Presidential election. I was always intimidated by the marble floors and grand ceilings, though on this particular morning it was also eerily quiet as people were out celebrating, or mourning, depending on how their candidate fared the night before. The empty hallways were a stark contrast to what I would soon learn was their normal state: full of constituents, lobbyists and interest groups, all hoping to get a few minutes with their Member of Congress to discuss their work or to ask them to vote for or against a particular bill.
Last week, I joined 19 other people from all around the country in Seattle, Washington, for the IJM Freedom Tour, a 430-mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland, Oregon. The ride, organized by Venture Expeditions, was designed to raise money for IJM and to educate people about the realities of human trafficking.
I am not an experienced cyclist—in fact, I didn’t even have a bike when I signed up for the trip—but for the past five months, I’ve learned how to use clip-in pedals without tipping over (which required some practice), how to cycle in a group, and how to stay fed and hydrated for a 50+ mile ride.Read More
California joined 38 other states over the last year in passing new laws to fight human trafficking, according to leading slavery abolition non-profit Polaris Project. In its annual State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws report released today, California improved by passing laws that removed the requirement of force, fraud, or coercion for conviction of minor sex trafficking and adding the requirement to post the National Human Trafficking Hotline.Read More
Some of us bike for fun, some for fitness, some for convenience—and still some for freedom. Erica Boonstra, of the Government Relations team here at IJM, is doing the latter.
As part of the Venture Expedition’s IJM Freedom Tour, Erica and the team will be cycling from Seattle, WA, to Portland, OR, to raise awareness and support for the fight against modern-day slavery. (You can support Erica’s ride here!)Read More
Debbie Wright has switched tracks. Not so long ago, she worked in quality assurance at a healthcare company. Now, she and a friend are producing a documentary called “From Liberty to Captivity,” aimed at raising public awareness on human trafficking in Pennsylvania, their home state. After she visited IJM this month, I had the opportunity to speak with Debbie about the big changes she’s made in her life and her new project.Read More
This summer, we at IJM have been sharing stories with our friends around the country about heroes we have come to know in the work of justice. Those of you involved in IJM’s Justice Campaigns also know that we are working together to develop some heroes of our own in the U.S. Congress. A hero is a Senator like Marco Rubio (R-FL), who asks every State Department official who comes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – including newly appointed Ambassadors – detailed questions about human trafficking. Another Senate hero is Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who, along with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, founded the Senate Anti-Trafficking Caucus and is a reliable friend on virtually every anti-trafficking initiative in play this year.Read More