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DOT/DHS Blue Lightning Announcement

Secretary Ray LaHood

"Remarks as prepared for delivery"

DOT/DHS Blue Lightning Announcement Washington, DC

June 6, 2013

Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today for this important announcement.

I’m very proud to have some of our partners here with us today:

  • Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta and
  • Robert Land, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Associate General Counsel at Jet Blue.

Two other airlines—Allegiant and North American—could not join us today, but I want to thank them as well.

These airlines are demonstrating great leadership in the fight to end human trafficking. And I truly hope to see other transportation leaders follow in their footsteps.

I also want to thank Secretary Napolitano and her team at the Department of Homeland Security for partnering with us to fight human trafficking across our transportation system.

I want to thank Kevin McAleenan [MAC-A-LEE-NAN], the Acting Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, for being here today.

And finally, I want to thank our folks at FAA for working with CBP on this initiative.

I care about this issue not just as the Secretary of Transportation, but as a husband, a father, and a grandfather.

Human trafficking is a hidden crime.

We may not think that human trafficking is happening around us, but it is.

Trafficking is going on right now, in cities and small communities all across America. 

We cannot let the American transportation system be an enabler in these criminal acts.

Those of us who work in the transportation industry are on the front lines—and we have a responsibility to watch for the signs of human trafficking and to report suspicious activity to the authorities.

To help our transportation partners, DOT and DHS developed a special voluntary training program, known as the Blue Lightning initiative.

Airlines can use this training program to educate their employees so that they know exactly what to do if they suspect human trafficking is happening in flight or on the ground.

Today, we are proud to announce our first four partners who signed up to train their employees:

  • Delta Air Lines,
  • JetBlue Airways,
  • Allegiant Air, and
  • North American Airlines. 

This is an important step in our fight to end human trafficking. It will raise awareness. And it will help us save lives.

Today’s announcement is a welcome continuation of our work to stop trafficking across the American transportation system.

I look forward to seeing more airlines join our efforts in the coming weeks.

President Obama has directed all of us in his Cabinet to strengthen the Administration’s efforts to stop human trafficking. And that’s exactly what we’re doing at the Department of Transportation.

DOT is taking action across all modes of transportation, and we are working with our partners throughout the Federal government, at the local level and in private industry to stop the flow of human trafficking.

This is not the first time we have partnered with DHS on this issue.

Last October, we partnered with DHS and Amtrak to help train Amtrak employees on what to do if they suspect someone is being trafficked.

Amtrak has committed to train all 20,000 of their employees.

In addition to our work with DHS, we have trained nearly all 55,000 DOT employees at home and abroad to help them recognize and report these crimes.

Across the country we have trained—and continue to train—about 6,000 state and local law enforcement, including our own investigators at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, on the best ways to detect human trafficking on our trucks and buses.

And we’re working with industry leaders.

We launched the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking partnership with about 90 industry leaders, including people from the travel and tourism industries.

When it comes to human trafficking, raising awareness can save lives.

It can be as simple as a pilot getting a tip and then calling it in from the flight deck. Or the ground crew taking note of unusual behavior at the gate.

These steps could help save a life. 

Again, I thank all of our airline partners for stepping up and setting an example.

The Obama Administration is doing great work to raise awareness and stop human trafficking, but we can’t do this alone. We need all hands on deck.

And now, I’d like to hand it over to Acting Deputy Commissioner McAleenan [MAC-A-LEE-NAN], who is going to describe the Blue Lightning initiative in more detail.

Updated: Thursday, June 6, 2013