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Human Trafficking 101: A Conversation with Mrs. Cindy McCain and Ernie Allen

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On Thursday, October 16, 2014, the McCain Institute hosted the kick-off conversation of our Human Trafficking Conversation Series, “Human Trafficking 101,” a one-on-one discussion between Mrs. Cindy McCain and Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Downtown Phoenix.
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  p.1 Human Trafficking 101: A Conversation with Mrs. Cindy McCain and Ernie Aen  [applause] Claire Sechler Merkel : Thank you, Paris. Welcome, everyone. I am Claire Merkel. I amthe Director of Arizona Initiatives for the McCain Institute. I am just delighted to welcome each of you here tonight for the first in what we hope to be a seven or eight-piece series on human trafficking.You can see the titles we have up on the billboards here. We're excited to get started this evening with Ernie Allen. Before we get started, I get to have just a couple of minutes to tell you about some of the exciting things that are going on in human trafficking, here in Arizona, with Mrs. McCain and the Institute.First of all, I get to announce that we have a new partnership with ASU and Demand Abolition, which is an organization that is run by former ambassador Swanee Hunt. The program will look at demand in Arizona and first do a baseline study. After that, the goal is to reduce demand in Arizona by 20 percent in two years, which I think is a very laudable goal. We are lucky enough...[applause] Claire : Yay. [claps] You can clap. Lucky enough to have our project coordinator, Angie Bayless, with us tonight. If you all have questions about that, please see her.In addition, Lindsay and I just came from a meeting with the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign, which is something that the Arizona Governor's Human Trafficking Council is partnering with.I learned a fact there today that I didn't know, and it was exciting. The city of Phoenix and the Governor's office in Arizona are the very first state governments to partner with the federal Department of Homeland Security on the Blue Campaign.Once again, Arizona is first. I will say over the last several years, Arizona has done more than most states to improve the situation for victims and human trafficking.The woman who's about to come out here tonight needs no introduction. She is an incredible humanitarian who has done work all over the world, in a number of realms but,tonight, we're focusing on her work on human trafficking.She's been working on it for years. She has been the Co-Chair of, first, the Governor's Human Trafficking Task Force and then the Human Trafficking Council. I am looking at the audience and realizing that the first thing I was supposed to do was to recognize the  p.! VIPs that are here tonight, those that are on the council with her.With that, members of the Governor's Human Trafficking Task Force and Council that are with us tonight are Representative Doug Coleman, Sarah Suggs...[applause] Claire : ...Dominique Roe-Sepowitz. Carolyn Jones RSVPed, but I don't see Carolyn tonight. These are the folks that spend a lot of their time working on improving the situation for Arizona. As you know, the new law that went into effect this year gives us a great groundwork, a lot of improvements and room to grow.Back to Cindy McCain. She's been doing this for a long time. She's incredibly dedicated to this topic. I think we're very fortunate to have an opportunity to listen to she and Ernie Allen, who is pretty much the father of the work against human trafficking and child exploitation, tonight. With that and without further ado, please help me welcome Cindy McCain and Ernie Allen.[applause] Cindy McCain : My name's on my seat. I found it OK.[laughter] Cindy : Thank you. [laughs] Thank you all. I know there's an accident on 51 or on I-10 or something tonight, so I appreciate all of you weeding through that and coming out heretonight.This is, I'm sure you were told, the first in a series of conversations that we're going to be having nationally, on this issue. It is, as you know, an issue that is new to the forefront, interms of visibility and the option to hear about it in Arizona, but it is not new to the forefront nationally or internationally.The person I have next to me tonight, that we are so fortunate to have with us, is the gold standard on what you do to begin work on trafficking, to work on trafficking, to solve theissue of trafficking and to simply make people understand what is right.I am so honored that you are here. When you said yes to come to tonight, I thought, Oh, my gosh. How can I talk to this man? He is so incredible on this issue. What we thought we would do first is I'll let him introduce himself to you. I know you know his name and know who he is, but we're going to take you on a little journey tonight. It's Human Trafficking 101. Pretend this is a class that you're not being graded in, tonight.[laughter]  p. Cindy : We're going to take you on a journey, the beginning journey of understanding human trafficking, what it is, where we're going, what we intend to do and what we want to do, both nationally and internationally.The only person that I feel that can really talk from an incredible level like this is, of course, my good friend and our friend to the victims in all of this, and that is Ernie Allen. Thank you for being here tonight. Ernie Allen : Thank you. Thank you.[applause] Cindy : Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.I know that all of you know Ernie's reputation and all, and but I'd like...The question I love asking people when we get together and talk about this issue is...Ernie, I'd like to begin with How? Why? Why are you here? Why did you get into this issue? What droveyou to this? Ernie : Cindy, I was in local government in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. We were focusing on crimes against children. The head of the county group homes came to see me. He said, Kids are disappearing from our shelters and group homes and are turning up on the streets, in the child prostitution business. Social workers basically treated them as AWOLs. They're runaways. Did nothing. The kid's gone. Law enforcement did nothing, because they looked like anybody else's kid. These kids literally became hidden victims. They fell through the cracks.We created the idea of a multidisciplinary approach, a police/social work team, to try to bridge that gap. We immediately started making arrests and rescuing kids. The media noticed. I got invited to go to Atlanta.Many of you may remember the tragedy of the missing and murdered children in Atlanta,of '79 to 1981. 26 children, young African-American children, were ultimately murdered,their bodies disposed of in the lakes, the gullies and the rivers around this great Americancity.I was invited to go there and consult on the investigation. The Vice President of the United States also went to Atlanta to demonstrate his commitment, which was then George H. W. Bush.I made a proposal to the Vice President. I said, This is not about one sick city. This is happening in lots of communities across this country, and America's missed it. He said, What do you think we ought to do? I said, I think you ought to bring together the experts, and you ought to develop a national strategy. One of the challenges then, 30 years ago, and today, to some extent, is that this is a nation  p.# of 50 states that act like 50 separate countries and 18,000 different police departments that don't always communicate with each other. How do you bridge that?It was also a time in which virtually every police department had a mandatory waiting period. If a kid disappeared, the response would be, Well, if she doesn't show up in 48, 72 hours, call us back and we'll respond. I suggested that we bring together national leaders and develop a coordinated national response. One should always be careful about offering one's ideas and suggestions, because a few months later, I hosted that meeting.[laughter] Ernie : That was not the plan.[laughter] Ernie : Members of Congress attended. Law enforcement leaders attended. Victim parents attended. The result of that was a 23-point action agenda, and one of the items in that agenda was the creation of a national center.It was my idea that it would be an arm of the Justice Department or the FBI, but PresidentReagan said, If this is going to work, it needs to be a private organization with a strong partnership with the public sector. More than you wanted to know, but that's the history. We created that center in 1984 and,I think, have made tremendous progress in the effort to protect America's children, to findmissing children, to address the exploitation of children.Because of a similar national crisis in Belgium, in 1996...A man named Marc Dutroux and a pedophile ring killed a number of Belgian children. Prime Minister of Belgium called me and said, I'd like to come see your center. I didn't get many calls from heads of state, so I said, Sure. He asked us to come to Belgium and help him create a version of our national center in Brussels, which we did.We began to get calls and requests from other countries around the world so, in 1998, we created a separate international center. That's really been the source.Our goal was to build systems, to change laws, to build capacity, to train law enforcement, to make systems respond -- recognize and respond -- more effectively to these problems, which are massive, and whose victims remain hidden. Cindy : I can only imagine that through the course of these years, and certainly in the beginning years as you began to uncover each of the layers that deals, that is involved in all of this, that your heart must have been broken. To not only find out what was going on, to figure it out and figure out that at that time we didn't really have an answer for it.
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