The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has 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 committed to training more than one 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 U.S. Secretary of Transportation 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 DOT’s “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge. Secretary Chao committed to seeking out “100 Pledges in 100 Days” from transportation, labor, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the country. The Department far exceeded that goal, receiving 100 pledges within just 30 days. 49 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 online.
At the U.S. Department of Transportation, a number of initiatives are underway to increase awareness of human trafficking and equip transportation industry employees and the public with strategies to fight it. More than 53,000 DOT employees receive mandatory counter-trafficking training, including special instruction for bus and truck inspectors. The Department also works with Federal agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop and distribute a suite of human trafficking awareness training tailored for the aviation, rail, motor coach, trucking and transit industries.
To amplify counter-trafficking efforts, Secretary Chao established an annual $50,000 award to incentivize individuals and entities, including NGOs, 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.
Secretary 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.
To support the Department’s counter-trafficking efforts, the DOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report in July 2019 that recommends actions the Department can take to help combat human trafficking and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders.