It’s hard to believe that 13 years ago this month, the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking opened its doors to survivors of human trafficking. FCAHT was one of the first organizations within the state of Florida to address the issue of modern day slavery. Our mission is to improve and provide outreach and services to victims of human trafficking throughout the State of Florida by developing support programs, networking, coalition building, training, service delivery, and referrals to victims in need. As I sit here and look back at the last 13 years, I recall some of our agencies accomplishments, it amazes me as to how much one group of anti-human trafficking advocates can accomplish. In honor of FCAHT’s 13 years, I have decided to share with you 13 accomplishments.
- Tecum Case- This was the first case that I worked on. I discovered a 19-year-old female from Guatemala while working what was initially reported as a domestic violence dispute. This case was discovered in January of 1999. Not only is the Tecum case considered a landmark case, but it was one of the 3 cases presented to the US Congress to urge them to pass the TVPA.
- TVPA- The Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 was the very first law passed in the United States that not only defined the crime of human trafficking but it laid a foundation for the anti-human trafficking movement. I am honored to know that the Tecum case and my experience were used in passing this landmark law.
- Trafficking Visa (T Visa) – On January 23, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft signed the Trafficking Visa into existence. The very first recipient of a T visa was the survivor of the Tecum case. I remember standing by her as Attorney General Ashcroft gave her the pen that he used to sign the T Visa all while stating “With this pen, I have just signed your freedom. Welcome to the United States.”
- The passing of Florida’s Anti Human Trafficking bill 787.05. Not only did the state of Florida pass their own anti human trafficking law in July 2004, but the bill number was identified with my former ID number given to me while working with the Collier County Sheriff’s office. This was done to recognize the work that I had done on the issue of human trafficking from 1999- 2004.
- On July 16, 2004, Former President George W. Bush honored the work that I had done during the very first anti human trafficking summit every held within the United States. The conference was hosted in Tampa.
- The creation of first DOJ Anti Human Trafficking working group for the state of Florida. I was honored to have been appointed by Assistant US Attorney Paul Perez to serve as a part of Florida’s first task force, which began in 2004.
- In 2005, I assisted the Department of Health and Human Services in identifying, creating and providing funding 5 Rescue and Restore Coalitions within the state of Florida. This led to training and providing technical support to other agencies within Florida.
- Collaborating with the United States State Department and the Organization of American States to providing training and technical support in 34 countries.
- Assisting various Central American countries in writing and passing their first anti human trafficking laws. The first country that I assisted in 2005 was Argentina.
- Receiving recognition from local, state, federal and international agencies on the advocacy and assistance that our agency has provided in the last 13 years. We have also been recognized for our anti sex trafficking PSA’s.
- Governor Rick Scott inducted me into FL Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011. It was an honor be included in the shaping of women’s history within our great state.
- Creating and collaborating with KlassKids Foundation and Local and Federal law enforcement agencies during the very first Superbowl 43 Street Outreach in 2009. Our work continued through Superbowl 47, which was held in New Orleans in 2013.
- Serving 1, 346 survivors of domestic servitude, labor trafficking and sex trafficking. This has been the greatest honor and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
During the last 13 years, I have had an amazing support system, from my family to our staff to the community itself. I know that without the support of my family, team and community, many of these accomplishments may have never occurred. And for this I would like to thank each and every person that has support FCAHT and the work that we continue to do. My hope that I can continue to count on your support. At this time, I ask that you help us celebrate FCHAT’s 13 years by donating $13, $1 per year. With your contribution of 13 dollars, we can continue to make a difference in within the anti-human trafficking movement.
Until everyone is Free,