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Miami Airport joins Blue Lightning Initiative to tackle human trafficking

Posted: 13 January 2021 | | No comments yet

Miami Airport’s nearly 1,400 employees will take part in the Blue Lightning training programme in order to learn how to properly identify and report suspicious behaviour.

Miami Airport joins Blue Lightning Initiative to tackle human trafficking

Credit: Miami International Airport - From left to right: Jimmy Morales, COO of Miami-Dade County; Rebeca Sosa, Commissioner of Miami-Dade County; Jose Diaz, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners; Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade County; Vernon T. Foret, Director of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Miami and Tampa; Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge at Homeland Security Investigations; Lester Sola, MIA Director & CEO; and Major Jesus Ramirez, Miami-Dade Police Department, Airport District.

In recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on 11 January 2021, Miami International Airport (MIA) has announced a formal partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fight human trafficking through the Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI) programme. 

MIA is the first airport in Florida to join this training initiative to help ensure that the millions of Americans who travel each year, even during these ‘new normal’ circumstances, are better informed and able to assist in this fight. 

“Miami-Dade County fully supports the anti-human trafficking goals of the Blue Lightning Initiative. I’m proud that Miami International Airport, under the leadership of Director Sola, continues to empower its employees and the travelling public with the knowledge to identify potential cases of human trafficking. As County Commissioner, I championed policies for public awareness and action against this terrible crime. As Mayor, I remain committed to working alongside all of our partners as we fight together to end human trafficking,” said Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade County.

MIA officially partnered with DHS and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) in November 2020, building on the collaboration forged earlier in 2020 in preparation for Super Bowl LIV, when the agencies held training sessions for MIA employees on the indicators of human trafficking.

“MIA is proud to be the first airport in Florida to join the Blue Lightning Initiative. Airports are uniquely positioned to help raise awareness and train its employees to properly identify and report suspicious behaviour,” said MIA’s Director and CEO, Lester Sola.

MIA will provide the Blue Lightning training programme to its nearly 1,400 employees, with new employees receiving the training as part of their onboarding process. There are plans to expand the training to the entire airport community in an effort to protect employees and customers alike. Some airlines operating at MIA already participate in the programme.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation is proud to work with partners nationwide to train frontline workers across all modes of transportation to recognise and report suspected instances of human trafficking. When frontline transportation employees are trained, actionable tips are reported to law enforcement to help stop this crime,” said Joel Szabat, Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy.

Travellers will also see BLI messages in new locations throughout their journey, particularly in pre-security areas of high concurrence near the checkpoints and at the passport screening areas. Other awareness materials will be made available to the travelling public at the information counters.

The Blue Lightning Initiative is an element of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign led jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a DHS agency. BLI trains personnel to combat human trafficking within the commercial aviation industry.