'Blue Campaign' takes fight to modern slavery on 'National Human Trafficking Awareness Day'

January 11, 2016
In The News

Today marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a proclamation made by President Obama in 2012. Human trafficking is as much of a problem now as it has ever been in history, and it’s not just overseas.

It’s barbaric and horrific, yet the practice continues to thrive across the world. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working to raise awareness that this is not just an issue on foreign soil.

"It’s 2016, and there are anywhere between 21 and 30 million boys, girls, children, in slavery,” said Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX). "That’s outrageous to me."

Maria Odom works at DHS and is the chair of the Blue Campaign, a DHS effort to combat human trafficking.

"We’ve been working to raise consciousness about the fact that human trafficking does occur in the United States in the form of commercial sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor,” said Odom.

Last summer lawmakers passed a law that makes it easier for law enforcement to bring human traffickers to justice, but Congressman Hurd says there’s still a lot of work to be done in Washington.

"This is something that...promoting the awareness of this but making sure we’re doing everything that we can to ensure law enforcement is working together to stop this despicable practice,” said Hurd.

Odom says her campaign is working with law enforcement training centers to provide advanced training for detecting and reporting human trafficking at home and abroad. In 2015 Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested more than 1,400 individuals for human trafficking.

"I think that there has been an awakening to the problem of human trafficking, and the communities are finally accepting the fact that this is happening in our own backyard,” said Odom.

The Blue Campaign has formal partnerships with more than 15 companies, cities, states, and countries. The Campaign just formalized a partnership with Washington D.C. this morning. To learn more information about human trafficking or to report such activity, you can visit the Blue Campaign’s website www dot dhs dot gov backslash blue dash campaign, or call 1-888-373-7888.