Today, I was honored to host a roundtable discussion at the White House to discuss efforts to combat human trafficking. Every year thousands of men, women and children become trafficked into the international sex trade and forced labor throughout the world – including right here in the United States.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and today’s meeting brought together representatives from across government, NGOs, law enforcement, first responders, private business and a brave young woman named Shyima Hall to continue to shed light on what is often described as a hidden crime.
When Shyima was just 9 years old, she was forced into domestic servitude in Egypt for a family and later brought with them to California. If it wasn’t for a neighbor suspecting something was wrong and reporting it to the Orange County Child Protective Services, who then worked with the Irvine Police Department to rescue her and contact ICE, Shyima might have remained captive much longer.
Today, Shyima is free, and she recently became an American citizen. Her captors went to jail. This story is a powerful reminder of how vital individuals and communities are in the effort to protect America.
Human trafficking is a horrendous crime, and at DHS, we are committed to doing all we can to prevent it. To that end, two years ago, I launched the DHS Blue Campaign to coordinate and enhance the Department’s anti-human trafficking efforts. And while we pay close attention today and this month, we must continue this fight every day.
I encourage you, as I encouraged all of the representatives at today’s meeting, to take a few minutes to review some of the indicators of human trafficking and to report human trafficking to authorities if suspected.
Learn more about the DHS Blue Campaign.