Amtrak announces plans to target human trafficking

According to USA Today, About 8,000 Amtrak employees nationwide will be learning how to identify human trafficking victims and how to report potential crimes, officials announced today.

Amtrak employees from all of its service areas — 46 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada— will receive training using materials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “Transportation workers, including Amtrak police, train conductors, and ticket counter staff and others come into contact with thousands of people on a daily basis, making them well positioned to identify situations that don’t seem quite right.”

Ms. Napolitano also said that once the victims are identified her agency can prosecute traffickers and bring justice for those caught up in the system.

According to Ms. Napolitano, the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement initiated more than 700 human trafficking investigations that resulted in more than 900 arrests, 400 indictments and 270 convictions.

According to Joseph Boardman, president and CEO of the rail company, there has been no indication that Amtrak trains have been used for human trafficking.

“We don’t want to ignore that there is a problem going on and not be helpful,” he said, noting as part of the new initiative Amtrak managers will view online videos about trafficking and regularly scheduled crew briefings will include talks about trafficking victims.

According to Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, airplane employees receive similar training through the Blue Lightning Initiative launched in January.

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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