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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Highlights Department’s Work to Combat Human Trafficking

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao highlighted the commitment by the U.S. Department of Transportation to combat human trafficking during keynote remarks at a forum hosted by Voices Against Trafficking. The virtual event was held in conjunction with the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which is acknowledged annually on July 30. 

“The Transportation sector is uniquely positioned to help fight human trafficking, and the Department has launched numerous initiatives to help transportation employers train their workers on how to detect and prevent it,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading and supporting a range of anti-human trafficking efforts at the state, local and Federal levels. The Department is a member of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF). The PITF is a Cabinet-level entity chaired by the Secretary of State to coordinate Federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons.  

In January 2020, Secretary Chao called upon transportation leaders to take a public stand against human trafficking by signing the Department’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge. To date, more than 500 signatories have committed to training over 1.3 million employees across all modes of transportation to help fight human trafficking. The Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative comprises transportation and travel industry stakeholders working jointly to maximize their collective impact in combating human trafficking. 

This year, the Department’s Federal Transit Administration awarded $5.4 million to 24 organizations from across the United States to support the prevention of human trafficking and other crimes that may occur on buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. In 2019, the Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration awarded over $1 million in grants to combat human trafficking through driver’s license standards and programs. 

Also this year, the Department established a new 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. As the first-ever recipient of the award, United Against Slavery will be conducting the National Outreach Survey for Transportation with up to 15,000 respondents and will be making the results available to the public.

Internationally, the Department underscores the important role of the transportation sector in combating human trafficking through its participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Transportation Working Group, and the International Transport Forum.  

The report from the Department’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking (ACHT)  provides helpful tools and resources to guide transportation leaders in their counter-trafficking efforts. Secretary Chao’s remarks from today’s event can be viewed online here