Indian-American Minal Patel Davis conferred with Presidential Award for combating human trafficking

“My administration will focus on ending the absolutely horrific practice of human trafficking”, says President Donald Trump

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC, November 1, 2018 – Indian-American attorney and crusader Minal Patel Davis has been conferred with one of the nation’s top honors for her exceptional contribution to end the scourge of human trafficking.

Davis was presented the 2018 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the presence of President Donald Trump, at a key meeting held in the Indian Treaty Room of the historic Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located next to the West Wing of the White House.

Davis serves as Special Advisor on Human Trafficking to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner since 2015 when she was appointed to the first municipal-level position of its kind in the US. She was bestowed with the presidential award for her groundbreaking work against sex slavery and labor exploitation at the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Annual Meeting held for the first time under the Trump administration.

Upon receiving the award, Davis said, “My parents came here from India. I was the first one in my family born in the United States. So, to end up in the Mayor’s office a few years ago and then to now end up in the White House, it was unbelievable”.

As Special Advisor, she is responsible for making a local impact on human trafficking in Houston, the fourth largest city in the nation, from a policy-level perspective and by advancing systems change. To her immense credit, she has developed and is currently implementing Mayor Turner’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan, the first comprehensive municipal response to human trafficking by a US city.
Davis is passionate about helping other cities and countries end the scourge of modern-day slavery. Recently, she traveled to India and Canada to discuss municipal leadership in trafficking with government officials.

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It is estimated that there are 24.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide.

“My administration will focus on ending the absolutely horrific practice of human trafficking”, vowed President Trump who was introduced at the meeting by his daughter and special adviser Ivanka Trump.

“This is an urgent humanitarian issue”, he stressed. “My administration is committed to leveraging every resource we have to confront this threat, to support the victims and survivors, and to hold traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes”.

In his remarks, the president dwelt on a number of measures taken to combat trafficking since he took office including: signing an executive order directing federal law enforcement to prioritize the dismantling of criminal organizations that engage in human trafficking; hosting survivors and experts at the White House on a number of occasions to brainstorm on improving the nation’s anti-trafficking efforts; prosecuting the perpetrators of “these monstrous acts and deeds”; signing several anti-trafficking bills into law including a legislation to help states and victims fight online sex trafficking; and investing millions in the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery to combat the crime internationally.

Presidential Adviser Ivanka Trump delivers opening remarks during the annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons held October 11, 2018, in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

On hand at the meeting were several high-ranking officials including: US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley; Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke; Labor Secretary Alex Acosta; US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio; Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri; US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; FBI Director Christopher Wray; and courageous survivors of human trafficking.

“Every Cabinet member here today and every member of this presidential taskforce is fully engaged in the fight”, Trump said. “Our country will not rest until we have put these vile organizations out of business, and rescued every last victim. And we will not stop until we have stamped out the menace of human trafficking once and for all”.

Together with Davis, Detective William Woolf, head of the Fairfax County Police Department Human Trafficking Unit, was awarded for his efforts to combat the evil trade.

Following the meeting, Secretary Pompeo said, in a press statement, “I was honored to present the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons to Ms. Minal Patel Davis and Mr. William C. Woolf”.

America’s top diplomat underlined four key initiatives by the State Department: the Program to End Modern Slavery through which $75 million has been allocated to achieve a measurable reduction in human trafficking on a global basis; Domestic Worker In-person Registration Program to enhance protection and oversight of foreign domestic workers employed by foreign missions and international organization personnel; a soon-to-be-released ‘Know Your Rights’ video that will air in US embassies and consulates to increase visa applicants’ awareness of their rights, help them identify human trafficking situations, and lead them to both avoid and report suspicious activity; and the planned creation of the Human Trafficking Expert Consultant Network which will allow survivor input to be meaningfully incorporated into the Department’s anti-trafficking work.

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