The mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. That means preventing terrorism, securing our border, managing our immigration system, safeguarding cyberspace, and ensuring resilience to disasters. But it also means fighting human trafficking, which is an affront to human dignity, and stands to threaten our people, our homeland, and our values.
DHS created the Blue Campaign in 2010 to serve as the Department’s unified voice to combat human trafficking. By prioritizing the fight against human trafficking and improving our coordination across the Department on this important issue, we embarked on a concerted effort to raise public consciousness of human trafficking, protect victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
Earlier today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson participated in the annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking (PITF) at the White House. This meeting provided an important opportunity to take stock of our efforts to combat human trafficking not only over the past year, but throughout this Administration. We know that our work to fight human trafficking is not over, but I am incredibly proud of how far we have come.
During the meeting, Secretary Johnson announced the Department’s revision to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Directive on Continued Presence. This revision will extend the duration of this important immigration designation for non-U.S. citizen victims of human trafficking from one year to two years, providing crucial stability and greater support to victims as they aid in the investigations of their traffickers. This is a part of our Department’s victim-centered approach to combating human trafficking.
This January, the Blue Campaign announced that going forward, human trafficking awareness training would be integrated into the basic training courses at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC), ensuring that over 90 federal law enforcement agencies that participate in FLETC are equipped with the tools to recognize possible cases of human trafficking and respond appropriately.
These two examples demonstrate that a holistic approach to combating human trafficking means both protecting victims as well as equipping law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to recognize, report, and investigate human trafficking.
But our work cannot and does not end there. Every day, DHS employees look for indicators of human trafficking in the course of their daily duties. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees investigate human trafficking cases, and support victims through a victim assistance program. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees work with airline personnel to combat human trafficking through the Blue Lightning Initiative, and ensure that products made with forced labor overseas are not able to enter our supply chain. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) works to ensure that eligible non-citizen victims of trafficking have access to badly-needed immigration designations for trafficking victims. And the Blue Campaign works to empower communities to combat human trafficking by forming partnerships, raising public awareness, and creating and disseminating free tools and resources for use across the country in combating human trafficking.
Our work is far from over. Until it is, it remains my honor to combat human trafficking alongside the dedicated women and men of DHS.
Download this graphic here to learn more about DHS’s unified effort to combat human trafficking.