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Putting the Brakes on Human Trafficking
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to strengthen the fight against sexual exploitation crimes – one of the trucking industry’s biggest initiatives. The order was signed on January 31, 2020, the 20th Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which authorized the establishment of a task force to monitor and combat human trafficking.
Human trafficking, which involves the use of force to obtain labor or a commercial sex act, exploits about 25 million people, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking. The DOT committee reports domestic sex trafficking is known to occur in many different locations including restaurants, hotels and private homes, but more often, it happens along our nation’s highways in truck stops and rest areas.
The Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States authorizes over $400 million to fight the issues and dedicates a full-time position at the White House to fight the crimes associated with the issue.
The presidential order also seeks to make available online a list of federal government resources to combat human trafficking, and for government agencies to collaborate on a list of actions that will help overcome communication barriers about human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Just days before the order was signed, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called on industry leaders to combat human trafficking through workforce training and outreach programs.
In a media event held in Washington at DOT headquarters on Jan. 28, Chao called for a renewed focus on the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge to recognize and report human trafficking. Chao challenged transportation logistics leaders to commit to 100 pledges in 100 days and boost industry awareness and education of the issue.
The DOT Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking (TLAHT) initiative is a group of transportation industry professionals who connect to recognize the signs of human trafficking and raise awareness about the issue through outreach campaigns. Among them is Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), who told Landstar that Chao’s call to action coupled with Trump’s executive order confirms that the United States is at the forefront of combatting human trafficking in a holistic manner.
“TAT is pleased to see an executive order that will hopefully expand housing options for survivors of human trafficking,” said Paris. “While we need to address the root cause issues that lead to sexual exploitation and human trafficking (demand for commercial sex, homelessness, poverty, abusive homes, etc.), and intervene to recognize, report and recover victims, it is imperative that public and private dollars be allocated for aftercare. Otherwise, we will only be putting a band aid on a gaping wound.”
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a nonprofit organization that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking, bus and energy industries to combat human trafficking. Its goals are to saturate trucking and related industries with TAT materials, partner with law enforcement and government agencies to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking and marshal the resources of our partners to combat the crime.
Landstar has pledged its support of TAT and the organization’s goals of educating owner-operators about human trafficking since 2014. In turn, the company has helped to educate thousands of independent owner-operators and employees, equipping them with the knowledge to identify and report domestic sex trafficking taking place along our nation’s highways.
Truckers Against Trafficking:
National Hotline 1-888-373-7888
Take the National Pledge to raise awareness about the fight against human trafficking: