Voices for Change
CAST’s work is directly informed by the real experiences of the clients it serves. Through a unique organizing approach, CAST launched the Survivor Advisory Caucus, a one-of-a-kind leadership development program where members of the Caucus organize to speak publicly on behalf of all survivors of trafficking.
Since the inception of the Caucus in 2003, survivors have transformed into advocates and the impact of their voices on policies and public awareness have led to the development of stronger protections for victims in both California and Federal anti-trafficking laws.
In 2008, CAST Caucus members traveled to Sacramento to participate in a panel discussion on human trafficking that took place at the Border Governor’s Conference and was led by California’s first Lady Maria Shriver. A month later the Caucus members addressed media questions and mobilized supporters for a Green Card Campaign to provide victims of trafficking with legal status in the United States at the LA Metro Task Force’s trafficking awareness event.
The Green Card Campaign is an example of the way the Survivor Advisory Caucus has trained and equipped victims to become powerful advocates for ending slavery. Caucus members used a CAST-designed strategy to record their testimonies regarding the inefficiency of the system to procure Green Cards to T-Visa holders within a promised two-year period of time and the impact that the delay had on their health, economic, and social stability. Members sent this document to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in collaboration with CAST partners. As a result of this advocacy effort, the DHS issued regulations allowing victims to adjust their status and apply for Green Cards in a shorter amount of time. These regulations fulfilled the congressional intention of the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000, as it allowed survivors freedoms such as visiting family and getting better jobs.
Through CAST’s comprehensive client services programs, seeds of renewal are planted in a survivor’s life, empowering victims of slavery and transforming them into powerful agents of change.
The Caucus members have become influential advocates and the impact of their voices on policies and public awareness have led to the development of stronger protections for victims in both California and Federal anti-trafficking laws.
Each year, based on their own experiences, the Caucus identifies key areas of state legislation which they believe are most important to the identification and protection of trafficking victims.