Posted by Maria Odom, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman and Chair of the DHS Blue Campaign
Today, Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson joined key federal partners at the White House for a meeting of the Presidential Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons where he highlighted the work of the DHS Blue Campaign, announced new interagency partnerships and highlighted the Department’s ongoing efforts to combat this heinous crime.
During the meeting, Secretary Johnson discussed the Department’s interagency engagement through the efforts of the Blue Campaign, and announced a new partnership with the Department of Education (ED)—working together to develop trafficking indicator training and other resources for school administrators, teachers, and staff. DHS has also been working closely with the General Services Administration to display human trafficking awareness materials in government-owned buildings across the United States.
Over the past year, DHS has focused an unprecedented level of resources and engagement to combating human trafficking through a victim-centered approach . Identifying and rescuing victims, however, is only the first step to end human trafficking.
In 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) opened nearly 1,025 cases related to human trafficking, many with the help of the public, resulting in 816 convictions and the identification of more than 330 trafficking victims. Through the ICE Victim Assistance Program, specialists ensure that human trafficking victims are not only rescued, but provided with referrals for medical, mental health and legal assistance, as well as referrals for long term immigration relief, case management and other services.
DHS aims to provide support and assistance for immigrant victims of human trafficking. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides immigration relief in the form of T visas and U visas, allowing victims to remain in the United States and assist in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. These visas also provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence and permit certain family members to join them in the United States.
DHS and the Blue Campaign will continue our efforts to increase investigations and prosecutions of human traffickers, train more frontline law enforcement partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and further improve victim services.
To learn more about DHS’ efforts to combat human trafficking and what you can do, visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign.