International Air Carriers Servicing the U.S. Invited to Join the Blue Lightning Initiative
As part of its observance of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI) hosted an “Intersections of Human Trafficking and International Aviation Roundtable” at the American Association of Airport Executives Headquarters in Alexandria, VA on January 18, 2023.
The event convened U.S. government leaders and 21 foreign airline executives from 18 countries to discuss how global partnerships can enhance the fight to end human trafficking.
Airline delegates heard from DOT and DHS about BLI’s expansion to include partnership opportunities with international carriers that service the United States. In addition, representatives at the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT), Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) explained how they can enhance their anti-trafficking efforts to address an ever-evolving threat that impacts an estimated 27.6 million people around the globe.
Participants contributed to a robust dialogue on industry best practices for recognizing and reporting suspected instances of human trafficking, discussed opportunities for future collaboration, and highlighted the importance of creating and strengthening international partnerships.
“The Blue Lightning Initiative is committed to being at the forefront of providing relevant and impactful anti-human trafficking resources to the aviation industry,” said DHS Executive Director for Social Impact and Campaigns Karinda L. Washington. “BLI’s success with domestic organizations provides a framework to assist international airline partners in combating this heinous crime with us.”
"Combating human trafficking across the global aviation sector is a collaborative effort,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs Annie Petsonk. “We look forward to working together with Blue Lightning Initiative and international partners to expand the number of aviation personnel trained to recognize and report suspected instances of human trafficking."
“CBP plays a critical role in fighting human trafficking, but we would not be successful without the support from our Blue Lightning Initiative partners and the aviation industry,” said Pete Flores, Executive Assistant Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations. “We are on the frontline to combat human trafficking — and it’s paramount that we continue to apply our resources and skills to address this heinous crime.”
“The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to working with our law enforcement and private sector partners to prevent situations where vulnerable individuals are exploited in human trafficking schemes,” said DSS Human Trafficking Investigations Coordinator Ryan LaBranche. “Because of our global presence, DSS is positioned to work with U.S. and foreign law enforcement to stem the tide of human trafficking and target the criminals who prey on these victims.”
DHS will continue to assist victims of human trafficking, target perpetrators of the crime regardless of where they operate, and empower the aviation industry to recognize and report common indicators.
About Blue Campaign
DHS Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign designed to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners on how to recognize the indicators of human trafficking and how to appropriately respond to possible cases. Blue Campaign is a member of CCHT, a cross-Department coordination center for countering sex trafficking and forced labor, including the importation of goods produced with forced labor. CCHT’s mission is to advance counter-human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims, and enhance prevention efforts by aligning DHS’s capabilities and expertise.
About Blue Lightning Initiative
BLI provides human trafficking awareness training to the aviation industry and is an element of the DHS Blue Campaign, led by DOT and CBP, a DHS agency. BLI trains the aviation community to identify potential traffickers and human trafficking victims, and to report their tips to federal law enforcement. To date, BLI’s over 110 partners have trained over 200,000 aviation industry personnel, and actionable tips continue to be reported to law enforcement. For more details, visit the BLI website. To become a BLI partner, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.