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Today, I joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman to announce a new partnership among the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Amtrak to combat human trafficking. Through this partnership, we are pledging to do more to combat human trafficking by broadening our network of partners to help us identify and rescue victims and help bring perpetrators to justice.
DHS is responsible for investigating human trafficking, arresting traffickers and protecting victims, but we cannot do it alone. Everyone has a role in identifying and combating human trafficking - from Amtrak employees, to police officers, to even passengers on board a train. Transportation workers interact with thousands of travelers every day, so they are in a unique position to observe and report situations that don’t seem right.
These actions can save lives. In just the past few months, investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and our partners in law enforcement have led to convictions of several traffickers, including a case in Virginia, where a former leader of the MS-13 street gang plead guilty for his role in a juvenile prostitution ring; and a case in Philadelphia where a man was sentenced to life in prison for smuggling young immigrants into the U.S. and forcing them to work for little or no pay.
In March of this year, President Obama directed his Administration to redouble efforts to eliminate human trafficking. In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative last week, 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 announced a number of new initiatives. The U.S. Government’s efforts augment the work of business, non-profits, educational institutions and foundations to combat trafficking.
We welcome partnerships like the one we’re announcing today, that can build a whole-of-nation approach to eliminating this scourge. Amtrak will utilize training and awareness materials developed by the DHS Blue Campaign to educate frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers of potential indicators of human trafficking. And DHS and DOT have also committed to training their own employees on how to identify and report potential cases of human trafficking.
What can you do? The DHS Blue Campaign created training and awareness materials to inform people of potential indicators of human trafficking and identify potential victims. I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it to the proper authorities. Together we can help protect innocent victims and prevent this form of modern day slavery.