The Current

Advocacy News + Updates


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.



Knowing that my friends who work for Congress are working around the clock on issues of historic significance, it was with some reluctance that I contacted a dozen offices to request their assistance on a problem that IJM’s Thailand office is having.  IJM’s staff in Chiang Mai provides legal assistance to ethnic Hill Tribe families to help them obtain the Thai citizenship that is their right under Thai law.  We’ve successfully secured citizenship for over 5,000 people, but for reasons we don’t understand, 800 cases have been stuck in administrative limbo for the past year.


If I were a legislative aide, I might be saying to myself, “Can’t IJM see that we’re busy up here?”  I might not take the time to read a complicated account of the citizenship rights of people I’ve never heard of, much less ask my boss to sign a letter on their behalf to the Thai Embassy.     



Thank goodness, my friends who work for Congress are fully capable of staffing issues of towering significance and simultaneously giving a moment to care about those less prominent.  Indeed, Thai Hill Tribe families are among the world’s most vulnerable people.  Without Thai citizenship, Hill Tribe women and men cannot travel from their villages.  They have no access to any government services (including police protection from crimes committed against them), and it is very difficult for them to work.  As a consequence, Hill Tribe women and girls are highly vulnerable to being trafficked into Thailand’s sex industry and the men to being trafficked into forced labor.


In answer to my plea, Representatives Wolf and Roskam and Senators Boozman and Cochran are signing the letter to the Embassy, diplomatically asking Ambassador Chaiyong Satjipanon to make an inquiry into the 800 cases.  These four are anti-trafficking heroes, as are the legislative aides who brought the matter to their attention.


Thanks, friends.  Thank you so much.