Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Speaking today at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama announced “major actions to fight human trafficking at home and abroad.” US News and World Reports explains:

Obama chose to focus his speech on the single issue of trafficking, and what the U.S. can do to stop it. Obama told the assembled audience it was time to turn the focus on fighting trafficking within American borders.

"The ugly truth is that this goes on right here," he said. "It's the migrant worker unable to pay off the debt to his trafficker... The teenage girl—beaten, forced to walk the streets. This should not be happening in America."

The president also said it was time to call human trafficking by its real name: "modern slavery." Obama's speech came just days after the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 that freed millions of slaves across the United States.

The president is right. “Modern day slavery” is the right term and we welcome this announcement. Also speaking today was Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who oversees the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. We were proud to have the ambassador in Seattle in March when Attorney General McKenna convened a meeting of international trafficking experts.

Here’s what Ambassador CdeBaca had to say today:

[T]he term "human trafficking" has long been used by diplomats as a euphemism, because "slavery is an uncomfortable word."

"But slavery should be uncomfortable... And the president's speech today shows it's okay to look into this dark place, and name the evil for what it actually is," says CdeBaca.

Well said, Ambassador. Among other points, the president’s plan includes:

  • An Executive Order Strengthening Protections in Federal Contracts
  • Tools and Training to Identify and Assist Trafficking Victims
  • Increased Resources for Victims of Human Trafficking
  • Comprehensive Plan for Future Action

Find more information about President Obama’s plan at WhiteHouse.gov. And you’ll find even more information at Human Trafficking.

-Dan Sytman-