WASHINGTON – On Feb. 26 the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that 100 transportation industry employers have met Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao’s call to sign onto the “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge. These signatories join more than 250 leaders across all modes of transportation who are committed to training more than 1 million employees to help fight human trafficking.
“America’s transportation system is being used to facilitate this modern form of slavery; the Department commends these employers for their commitment to train their employees to help detect and save victims of human trafficking,” said Chao.
In January, Chao announced a series of efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. Among them, she called upon transportation leaders to take a public stand against human trafficking by signing USDOT’s “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge. Chao committed to seeking out “100 Pledges in 100 Days” from transportation, labor and nongovernmental organizations across the country. The department far exceeded that goal, receiving 100 pledges within just 30 days. Forty-nine of 50 state departments of transportation have agreed to sign the pledge, in addition to transportation authorities in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A full list of signatories is available at www.transportation.gov/international-policy-and-trade/against-human-trafficking/transportation-leaders-against-human.
A number of initiatives are underway at USDOT to increase awareness of human trafficking and equip transportation-industry employees and the public with strategies to fight it. More than 53,000 USDOT employees receive mandatory countertrafficking training, including special instruction for bus and truck inspectors. The department also works with federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations to develop and distribute a suite of human-trafficking-awareness training tailored for the aviation, rail, motor coach, trucking and transit industries.
To amplify countertrafficking efforts, Chao established an annual $50,000 award to incentivize individuals and entities, including nongovernmental organizations, transportation-industry associations, research institutions, and state and local government organizations, to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry. The department is reviewing applications and will determine the individual or entity that will most effectively utilize these funds to combat human trafficking.
Chao recently awarded $5.4 million in grant funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative. Twenty-four organizations across the country will each receive funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation. A list of the selected projects is available at www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-programs/safety/human-trafficking-awareness-public-safety-initiative-grant-and.
To support the department’s countertrafficking efforts, the USDOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report last July that recommends actions the department can take to help combat human trafficking and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders. For more information about federal government efforts to fight human trafficking, visit www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-fighting-eradicate-human-trafficking/.
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