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Engaging Stakeholders to Combat Labor Trafficking

Maria Odom
Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

Last Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign hosted its semi-annual stakeholder engagement event, bringing together federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and private industry partners to discuss labor trafficking and identify opportunities to further collaboration in our joint anti-human trafficking efforts.

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas delivered keynote remarks, during which he highlighted the commitment of the Department’s leadership to combat human trafficking in all forms. The event also featured a panel discussion with labor trafficking experts from across the Federal government, including DHS, the Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This diverse set of experts fostered a unique audience engagement that specifically addressed efforts to combat labor trafficking and allowed stakeholders to listen and learn from one another.

The stakeholder event focused specifically on the issue of labor trafficking. Labor trafficking, also known as involuntary servitude or forced labor, is an often overlooked form of human trafficking because it is difficult to discover and prosecute. Labor trafficking may result when unscrupulous employers exploit workers made more vulnerable by poverty, immigration status, crime, discrimination or corruption. It can happen in any industry, but occurs especially in low-skilled labor, like agricultural work, or occupations hidden from public view such as domestic service.

As the unified voice for the Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, the Blue Campaign works together with our federal partners to recognize and combat human trafficking within the United States and around the world. Last week’s event highlighted the importance of continued partnerships between DHS and our stakeholders to enhance our individual and collective abilities to identify and support victims, investigate cases, and bring those who commit and enable the heinous crime of labor trafficking to justice. Our work is far from over, and we remain committed to ending this heinous crime.

I encourage you to visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign to learn more, get involved, and join us in the fight against human trafficking.

Maria Odom is the Chairperson of the DHS Blue Campaign.

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