Incentivizing innovation | Houston Airports receives 2023 Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award

The U.S. Department of Transportation award incentivizes innovation and shareable solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry.

July 31, 2023

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is recognizing Houston Airports for its “Together We Will #EndHumanTrafficking” initiative. The initiative, which earned the second place U.S. Department of Transportation 2023 Combatting Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award, is a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking. The counter-trafficking proposal submitted by Houston Airports to the DOT includes expanding community awareness ahead of major travel periods and holidays, expanding employee training to comprise human trafficking survivor voices, and providing donated financial support to local advocacy groups.  

“Transportation workers and the traveling public have a key role to play in the fight against human trafficking - which is why it’s so important for everyone to recognize the signs and be prepared to report it,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

The campaign’s strategic use of ‘together’ invites the greater Houston community to come together to end human trafficking. The campaign reminds the public that there are crime victims among us who need our help in reclaiming their lives and their freedom. Together, the community benefits. 

“While the campaign is unique to Houston Airports, the message underscores the need for the community to work with the airports in ending this heinous crime,” said Saba Abashawl, Chief External Affairs Officer for Houston Airports. “The inclusivity of the campaign allows for law enforcement and civilians to team with Houston Airports on a solution.”

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READ MORE | Houston Airports collaborates with community to educate citizens on human trafficking

Federal data confirms 70% of victims are trafficked through airports. Bush and Hobby airports are a gateway to the South-Central region of the U.S. and serve as a primary gateway to Latin America. In 2022 Houston Airports welcomed about 54 million passengers to its airports. As of March 2023, Houston Airports has trained more than 31,000 badged airport workers to identify a potential victim and safely report human trafficking through the Blue Lightning Initiative. In 2022 Houston Airports began training the greater community. The unprecedented training resulted in 450 people -including pastors, educators and parents- becoming empowered to identify and assist potential victims through life-saving training provided by survivors, law enforcement and Houston Airports.

National Human Trafficking Hotline | 1-888-373-7888

For more information about the Department of Transportation's efforts to end human trafficking, click here.