The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has partnered with the Virginia Office of the Attorney General to combat human trafficking, an egregious form of modern-day slavery involving the exploitation of children and adults for a labor or commercial sex purpose.
DHS’s Blue Campaign aims to combat human trafficking through enhanced public awareness, training, victim assistance, and law enforcement investigations.
Through this new partnership, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General will provide Blue Campaign training and materials throughout the Commonwealth to raise public consciousness of the indicators of human trafficking and how to report suspected cases.
“The Blue Campaign is honored to work alongside the Virginia Office of the Attorney General,” said Blue Campaign Chair Maria Odom. “Partnerships like this are important to our efforts to combat human trafficking in the United States and in our communities, because no one fights human trafficking alone.”
The Attorney General’s Office will also host joint trainings throughout the Commonwealth for law enforcement, school administrators, Child Protective Services employees, and the general public on recognizing the signs of human trafficking.
“I think this partnership with DHS and the Blue Campaign is going to take our efforts to the next level. This collaboration is going to allow us to provide even more sophisticated and powerful tools and resources to not only law enforcement, but community members around Virginia who want to get engaged in the fight,” said Attorney General Mark Herring.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing business of organized crime. Estimates put the number of domestic and international human trafficking victims in the millions, mostly females and children enslaved in the commercial sex industry for little or no money, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Earlier this year, DHS’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released an alarming report revealing that human traffickers are exploiting the US visa process to smuggle victims into the country. Data from 2005 to 2014 indicates that work and fiancé visas were the predominant means by which more than half of the human traffickers known to federal law enforcementlegally smuggled victims into the United States.
As Homeland Security Today previously reported, fiancé visas are used to lure human trafficking victims to the United States as part of marriage fraud schemes. The traffickers confiscate the victims’ passports and often subject them to psychological and physical abuse, such as forced sex and/or forced labor.
Federal resources play a critical role in helping law enforcement to combat human trafficking and Blue campaign partnerships are an important part of these efforts.
In the last year, the Blue Campaign also established partnerships with the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights. Other partnerships have included teaming up with TravelCenters of America, North Dakota Public Health Association, Amtrak, several foreign governments, and the National League of Cities, to name a few.