The Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, has announced several new initiatives aimed at combatting human trafficking, vowing to stamp out use of American transport routes for “this modern form of slavery.”
“It is shocking to learn that in this day and age, something so horrible as human trafficking exists, and there are so many people who don’t believe it,” Chao said Jan. 28.
“But it is happening, and it’s happening in the United States, in our cities, in our suburbs, in our rural areas.” said Chao at the agency’s “Putting the Brakes on Human Trafficking” summit in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
“Our purpose today is to make a difference, and that’s to make the transportation sector a more effective force against the evil that is human trafficking. Because America’s roadways, railways, airways, and waterways are being used to facilitate this modern form of slavery,” Chao stated.
Chao was joined by members of Congress, officials from multiple states, law enforcement personnel, and leaders of the transportation industry on Tuesday at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Chao called on leaders of transportation companies to take the “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking Pledge” to train their employees challenging the transportation industry to commit to 100 Pledges in 100 Days.
Currently, there are commitments to train more than one million employees to fight human trafficking, according to USDOT, and Chao listed anti-trafficking initiatives already underway at the agency, with the strategies of “detection, deterrence, and disruption.” More than 53,000 USDOT employees have already received mandatory counter-trafficking training, including special instructions for bus and truck inspectors, she said.
Sec. Chao also announced an annual $50,000 award for individuals or companies who create “innovative” solutions for combating trafficking, as well as $5.4 million in grant selections