In a press conference yesterday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton and leaders from CBP, USCIS, FLETC, shed light on how each of their agencies are combating this crime of modern-day slavery. Senior Counselor to the secretary, Alice Hill, also spoke at the conference, saying the Blue Campaign focuses on "the three 'Ps': prevention, protection, and prosecution."
Morton cited last week's 24-year prison sentence meted to a human trafficker who had forced 20 victims -- some as young as 10 years old -- to work six to seven days a week, eight to 12 hours a day in hair-braiding salons without pay. The perpetrator and his associates used threats, violence and voodoo curses to control the victims; some of whom were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, and held in servitude for more than five years.
ICE is attacking these types of crimes on several fronts. The agency encourages the public to recognize and report human trafficking crimes through its Hidden in Plain Sight public outreach campaign. The campaign included widespread distribution of posters, billboards and transit shelter signs. ICE is taking a global strategy, working with NGOs and international partners hosting meetings, coordinating efforts and sharing information to dismantle human trafficking organizations that bring such desperation to the people they ensnare.
ICE's Victims Assistance Program helps to coordinate services in support of human trafficking victims. In April 2009, ICE was recognized for its commitment to assisting victims of crime with a Federal Service Award from the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victims' Service Awards program.
"We must recognize the tireless efforts of those who came before us -- the prosecutors, the investigators, people in the media and advocates of all kinds, and we are here building on those efforts," said Morton. "We build on those efforts today in the hope that one day we won't have to investigate human trafficking at all, and we have much work to do between now and that day."
More details on the DHS Blue Campaign can be found in this fact sheet (http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/gc_1279809595502.shtm) and this website (http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/humantrafficking.shtm). A fact sheet on ICE's involvement in the Blue Campaign is available by visiting the following URL: http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/hst-blue-campaign.htm.