The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced on May 7 that over 200 transportation industry leaders have answered Transportation Secretary Elaine L. 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. These 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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
In January, Secretary 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. Signatories include over 180 airports and airlines, 104 transit agencies, 33 motor carriers, 9 railways, 9 ports, 49 State departments of transportation, 8 states, and 14 cities. To date, more than 450 transportation industry leaders have signed onto the pledge. A full list of signatories is available online, and the USDOT continues to invite additional transportation leaders to join the effort.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, affecting nearly 25 million adults and children in the United States 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 other counter-trafficking support, Secretary Chao established an annual $50,000 “Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award” to incentivize 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. Secretary Chao 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, and to make the results 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 their 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 counter-trafficking 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, and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders.