Every year millions of men, women, and children are trafficked for sexual or labor exploitation worldwide--including the United States. President Obama has directed his Cabinet to strengthen the Administration’s efforts to stop human trafficking. At DOT, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Because trafficking often involves moving victims from one place to another--against their will--those of us who work in transportation are on the front lines in this effort. We have a responsibility to watch for the signs and report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
We must not let the American transportation system be an enabler in these criminal acts.
That's why DOT has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to create a training program for our nation's airline employees. We want everyone --from baggage handlers to customer service representatives to gate agents to flight attendants to pilots-- to know exactly what to do if they suspect human trafficking is happening in flight or on the ground.
Our new training initiative will help cast a bright light on this exploitative activity. As Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, "It is such an insidious crime that is often not recognized. We want to bring it out of the shadows."
The aviation employee training program we announced this morning at Reagan National Airport will be a first step in that important effort, and I want to thank the airlines that have already signed up for this voluntary program: Delta, JetBlue, Allegiant, and North American.
Delta CEO Richard Anderson took time to join us for today’s announcement, because he and the other leaders of these airlines have recognized that when it comes to preventing human trafficking, everyone has a role to play. They have stepped up and set an example for the entire industry, and I hope other airlines will join them.
This is not the first time we have partnered with DHS on this issue.
Together, we partnered with Amtrak to help train its 20,000 employees on what to do if they suspect someone is being trafficked. And, we have trained nearly all 55,000 DOT employees at home and abroad to help them recognize and report these crimes.
Across the country we also have trained—and continue to train—about 6,000 state and local law enforcement, including our own investigators at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, on the best ways to detect trafficking on trucks and buses. And we launched the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking partnership with about 90 industry leaders from across transportation.
When it comes to human trafficking, raising awareness can save lives. The Obama Administration is doing great work to raise awareness and stop human trafficking, but we can’t do this alone.
We need all hands on deck, and I’m glad to welcome Delta, JetBlue, Allegiant and North American on board