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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Obama and Human Trafficking


By Sheila Liaugminas

He probably means what he says, or at least we should extend that presumption of goodwill. But he doesn’t say what he means, as proven by the policies his administration has enforced.

Just one of many examples is the remarks he made this week on the public stage.

After his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Obama today addressed the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting, where he called for an end to human trafficking.

The president also unveiled new initiatives aimed at combatting the practice — which the administration says impacts more than 20 million people around the world.

“It ought to concern every person,” Obama said, “because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.”…

In a more emotional moment, Obama shared the real-life stories of a few women who survived the “unspeakable horror” — including Sheila White, a Bronx woman.

“Fleeing an abusive home, [Sheila] fell in with a guy who said he’d protect her. Instead, he sold her — just 15 years old, 15 — to men who raped her and beat her and burned her with irons. And finally, after years, with the help of a nonprofit led by other survivors, she found the courage to break free and get the services she needed.

Stop there. This is a good point at which to examine his administration’s policy toward helping such victims, which nobody did better than the US bishops. But in one of the earlier steps to excise faith-based organizations from the social services they have so long delivered better than government, the department of Health and Human Services (yes, the same HHS that delivered the notorious controversial contraceptive mandate this year) cut out the bishops’ organization from providing aid and relief to victims of trafficking.

“Show me the data” is an urgent request from USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services. MRS has long worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help refugees, migrating children, and people trafficked to the U.S. for labor and the sex trade. The U.S. Justice Department recently lauded MRS in a brief defending HHS, which is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for working with Catholics. Said the Justice Department, as reported in the Washington Post, “the bishops have been ‘resoundingly successful in increasing assistance to victims of trafficking.’”

Despite this, a recent anti-trafficking grant application from MRS to continue serving people caught in the 21st Century’s version of human slavery was denied. MRS asks why?

I have been informed that six organizations applied for anti-trafficking grants from HHS’s Office for Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Four scored so low they did not make the cutoff when evaluated by an independent review board. Two applicants scored well. Heartland Human Care Services scored highest and MRS came in second, very close to Heartland, even after losing points for not being willing to refer for contraceptives and abortions. Yet, after finagling by Sharon Parrott, one of three politically-appointed counselors to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, ORR awarded $4.5 million, spread across Heartland, which earned the award, and United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Tapestri, groups that hadn’t made the grade according to the independent review board.

HHS denies any hanky-panky. Show me the data.

Obama’s high profile rhetoric received higher level scrutiny soon after he delivered it.

Obama announced a new executive order to prevent human trafficking through new regulations for U.S. contractors and subcontractors, including a prohibition on trafficking-related practices such as charging recruitment fees.

Large contract holders will be required to implement awareness and compliance programs, and a process will be created to identify industries with a problematic history.

The order also requires additional “guidance and training” for those responsible for enforcing the new measures.

The announcement, however, drew criticism from Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.), who said that the president has put his own political gain before the good of trafficking victims.

While he says that he “wants to promote awareness of human trafficking,” Obama has a “record of removing the experts at providing these services,” Lankford charged in a statement responding to the president’s speech.

He pointed to the administration’s decision last year not to renew a grant with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to aid human trafficking victims.

An independent review board gave the bishops’ group superior ratings for their work over several years. However, the group was passed over for a grant renewal, and the funds were instead given to an organization with a significantly lower score.

The decision came after new guidelines for grant applicants indicated that “strong preference” will be given to organizations that offer referrals for the “full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care.”

Critics contended that the administration was putting the promotion of abortion before the needs of trafficking victims.

The administration and its party is putting the promotion of abortion before just about all else, as was evident in the DNC in Charlotte. The media aren’t paying attention to this story at all. But that doesn’t change its appalling truth.


From here.

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