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U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Join Airlines to Announce New Partnership to Combat Human Trafficking

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U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Join Airlines to Announce New Partnership to Combat Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Deputy Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan took part in a press conference with Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson and JetBlue Airways Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Associate General Counsel Robert Land today to announce a new partnership to combat human trafficking. Under this voluntary partnership, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways, along with Allegiant Air and North American Airlines, will train employees to identify and recognize indicators of human trafficking both in flight and on the ground.

“We cannot let the American transportation system be an enabler in these criminal acts,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “With today’s announcement, we are sending a message to any would-be traffickers – whether you travel by land, by rail or by air, we will be watching you. By working together, we can raise awareness and keep an eye out for these activities.”

Together, DOT and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed a training program called the Blue Lightning Initiative that is available to airlines as part of the DHS Blue Campaign to help them educate their employees on potential indicators of human trafficking and how to identify potential victims. The Blue Lightning Initiative provides U.S. commercial airlines and their employees a voluntary mechanism to identify suspected human trafficking victims and notify federal authorities.

This partnership is part of DOT’s efforts to raise awareness about the issue and ensure that the U.S. transportation system is not being exploited for human trafficking.  In addition to inviting airlines to join the Blue Lightning partnership, DOT partnered with the Department of Homeland Security and Amtrak last October to help train Amtrak employees on what to do if they suspect someone is being trafficked. Amtrak is currently developing a system for training all 20,000 of their employees.

DOT has also trained its more than 55,000 employees to identify and report human trafficking, and is working with representatives from all modes of transportation to secure industry support in stopping this crime.

In March 2012, President Obama directed his Administration to redouble efforts to eliminate human trafficking. In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative last year, the President reaffirmed America’s commitment to leading the global movement against human trafficking, calling it one of the great human rights causes of our time and announcing a number of new initiatives. The U.S. Department of Transportation welcomes partnerships like the one announced today, which helps build a whole-of-nation approach to eliminating this scourge. 

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Updated: Thursday, June 6, 2013
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