White House faith council presses gov’t to prioritize human trafficking

WASHINGTON (JTA) – A White House faith-based advisory council in a report on human trafficking urged the Obama administration to raise awareness about the problem overseas and domestically.

The report released Wednesday by the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which includes two Jewish organizational leaders, said the administration needs a national call to action and should press government agencies to make human trafficking a priority by dedicating more staff and resources to the issue.

It also called on the administration to recruit community groups into spotting and reporting human trafficking.

The council chairwoman is Susie Stern, government affairs adviser to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, is one of 14 council members.

"The Jewish community joins Americans of all faiths in our abiding belief that human beings are inherently free and may never be viewed as property, much less subject to the horrors of labor and sexual exploitation," Schonfeld said in a statement.

The White House welcomed the recommendations as "thoughtful."

"The council’s recommendations demonstrate the commitment of a distinguished set of civic leaders to strengthen and expand partnerships with government to end the scourge of modern-day slavery," the White House said in a statement.

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