WASHINGTON — In January, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called on the nation’s transportation industry to “put the brakes on human trafficking.” Chao asked for 100 pledges, within a 100-day period, from industry organizations to train employees to fight the crime of human trafficking and help raise public awareness of the growing problem.
Today (May 7), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that more than 200 transportation industry leaders have answered Chao’s call to help fight human trafficking. That number is more than double USDOT’s initial commitment to seek out “100 Pledges in 100 Days” from transportation, labor and non-governmental organizations across the country. The signatories represent leaders across all modes of transportation, in addition to leaders of organizations that intersect with transportation, who have committed to raising public awareness regarding human trafficking and to training more than one million employees to help fight the crime.
“Over 200 transportation organizations — double the original goal — are joining the department to ensure that America’s transportation systems are not hijacked to facilitate human trafficking. These companies are on the frontlines of helping to ensure the safety of our traveling public,” Chao said in a video statement. Click here to view Chao’s message.
In late January, Chao announced a series of efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. Among those efforts, she called upon transportation leaders to take a public stand against human trafficking by signing USDOT’s “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge. To date, more than 450 transportation industry leaders have signed onto the pledge, and the USDOT continues to invite additional transportation leaders to join the effort. To see a full list of signatories, click here.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, affecting nearly 25 million adults and children in the U.S. and worldwide. Victims are of every age, race, gender, background, citizenship and immigration status. Some are trafficked within their own communities, while others are transported to new locations using America’s roadways, airways, railways, and waterways.
In addition to US DOT’s commitment to prevent human trafficking, Chao established an annual $50,000 “Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award” to provide added incentive for individuals and entities to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry. USDOT received applications from organizations across the private sector as well as state and local government organizations. Chao said she is pleased to announce the United Against Slavery’s (UAS) National Outreach Survey for Transportation as the first-ever recipient of this award.
UAS proposed a national counter-trafficking survey of up to 15,000 respondents, with the results made available to the public. This effort could either expand upon a current UAS flight-attendant survey to include other public-facing aviation employees or be conducted within another mode of transportation.
Busing on the Lookout, a program of Truckers Against Trafficking, earned second place for its proposal targeting human-trafficking loopholes that exist between buses and casinos. ArtWorks for Freedom earned third place for Airports to Freedom, a proposal to install a multimedia counter-trafficking educational kiosk in up to nine airports to educate and engage the aviation industry and traveling public.
To support the USDOT’s countertrafficking efforts, the USDOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report in July 2019 that recommends actions the USDOT can take to help combat human trafficking, along with best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders. For information about the Trump administration’s efforts to fight human trafficking, click here.