Posted by Senior Counselor Alice Hill
On December 31, 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to recognize the vital role we can play in eliminating all forms of human trafficking. And as we begin a new year, we also mark the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a powerful reminder to rededicate ourselves to bringing an end to slavery and human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a horrendous crime and at DHS, we are committed to doing all we can to prevent it. Every year, we initiate hundreds of investigations and make arrests, while providing support for victims through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Victim Assistance Program. To protect victims, we also provide immigration assistance in the form of Continued Presence, T visas and U visas.
DHS also works to educate state and local law enforcement and members of the public on how to identify victims of human trafficking and report the crime. Through the Blue Campaign, the Department’s unified voice in combating human trafficking, DHS works in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations to protect the basic right of freedom, and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.
In October, Secretary Napolitano joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman to announce a new partnership among DHS, the Department of Transportation and Amtrak to broaden our network of partners in our fight to prevent human trafficking. Amtrak is using training and awareness materials developed by the Blue Campaign to educate all of its employees, including Amtrak Police Department officers, on potential indicators of human trafficking.
We further broadened our network of committed partners last fall when Secretary Napolitano joined INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble in France to sign a joint statement reaffirming a mutual commitment to combating human trafficking. Broadening our network of domestic and international partners is just one way to help us identify and rescue victims, and help bring perpetrators to justice.
While we pay close attention today and this month, we must continue this fight every day. I encourage you to get involved by learning about the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it to the proper authorities.
Everyone has a role in identifying and combating human trafficking, and together we can help protect innocent victims and prevent this form of modern-day slavery.