News From Washington - February
By Holly Burkhalter - Tue, 02/07/2012
We had the most awesome experience here at IJM headquarters last week. On the morning before President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, IJM sent out an email to our friends and supporters around the U.S., inviting them to sign a letter to President Obama, urging him to exert real leadership to end modern day slavery at home and abroad.
Within a few hours (before the President had even given his address that evening!), several thousand people had signed the letter. At the time of this writing, we have over 24,000 names and more come in every hour.
Compare that to a year ago when we issued a similar appeal to President Obama. We kept the letter alive for six weeks after his State of the Union address, and gathered 21,000 names. This year we’ve surpassed that mark within just one week.
What’s going on? I tell my staff that it must surely be because of the excellence of the text (I wrote it!). But I wrote last year’s as well…and the one before that.
All joking aside, the most important factor of all may be that we’re in an election season. The office of the presidency is much on Americans’ minds – whatever their political leanings. And it looks to me like Americans, who may disagree on other issues, are passionate about our government playing a leading role in confronting the ages-old, horrific crime of slavery.
We’re hoping to gather 27,000 signatures on the letter to the President before we deliver it to the White House – 1 American for every 1000 people thought to be enslaved today.
Here at IJM, we have focused most of our effort to improve the United States’ anti-trafficking policy by asking Congress to pass anti-slavery legislation like the Child Protection Compact Act in 2010, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2011. Congress is hopelessly deadlocked, however, and prospects for enacting good laws this year are dim and growing dimmer. But the Office of the President can do a great deal. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, we need a President who will pick up where Lincoln left off.
Want to help? Sign your name!
Holly Burkhalter is the Vice President of Government Relations at International Justice Mission. IJM's Justice Campaigns mobilizes people around the country in support of U.S. policies that will lead to the abolition of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Support IJM Now
Your gift enables IJM to bring rescue and restoration to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.