U.S. Government Entities Combating Human Trafficking
Combating human trafficking requires participation and coordination among agencies with responsibilities for criminal enforcement, labor enforcement, victim outreach and services, public awareness, education, trade policy, international development and programs, immigration, intelligence, and diplomacy. Coordinated efforts are essential to an integrated response to human trafficking that leverages resources. For this reason the United States advocates that foreign governments undertake interagency coordination efforts. This fact sheet presents information about U.S. government (USG) anti-trafficking coordination efforts and the roles of principal agencies.
The President’s Interagency Task Force
The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (PITF) is a cabinet-level entity created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 whose purpose is to coordinate government-wide efforts to combat human trafficking. Member and invited agencies of the PITF include those on this fact sheet in addition to the Directorate of National Intelligence and the White House Offices of Management and Budget, National Security Council, and Domestic Policy Council.
Senior Policy Operating Group
The TVPA amended in 2003 also established the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG) to implement the vision of the PITF and coordinate the government’s interagency effort to combat human trafficking. The SPOG includes senior representatives from the PITF member and invited agencies and oversees three committees: Grantmaking, Research and Data, and Public Affairs.
Principal roles of USG agencies
Department of State (DOS): DOS represents the United States in the global fight to address human trafficking by engaging with foreign governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, and civil society to develop and implement effective strategies for confronting modern slavery. This occurs through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance, public outreach, and specific projects on trafficking in persons. DOS chairs the PITF and the SPOG. The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) fund international anti-trafficking programs. PRM also funds the Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification Program for Victims of Trafficking. G/TIP produces the annual Trafficking in Persons Report which spotlights modern slavery around the world, encourages the work of the civil sector, and is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic tool used to engage foreign governments.
Department of Defense (DOD): DOD endeavors to ensure that the U.S. military, its civilian employees, and its contractors are aware of and adopt the zero tolerance policy on human trafficking. A demand reduction campaign helps make contractors, government personnel, and military members aware of common signs of human trafficking and provides a hotline number to report suspected incidents. The awareness campaign is reinforced by the requirement for all military and civilian members of the Department to take annual trafficking awareness training. DOD’s subordinate organizations are further required to report on completion of their personnel’s annual training. Public service announcements on labor and sex trafficking are in effect.
Department of Justice (DOJ): The Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit within DOJ’s Civil Rights Division prosecutes traffickers in partnership with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide. The cases are investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Department of Homeland Security as well as other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Its national complaint line is 1-888-428-7581. The Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section prosecutes cases of child sex trafficking and child sex tourism. The Criminal Division’s Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training program provides antitrafficking training and technical assistance to law enforcement internationally. The Bureau of Justice Assistance funds 38 anti-trafficking task forces composed of local, state, and federal law enforcement as well as nongovernmental victim service providers. The Office of Victims of Crime funds nongovernmental organizations to provide services to U.S. citizen victims and foreign victims. Significant research is con- ducted by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. DOJ also produces the Attorney General’s Annual Report to Congress on U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Department of Agriculture (USDA): The USDA’s Consultative Group to Eliminate the Use of Child Labor and Forced Labor in Imported Agricultural Products includes government, private sector, academic, and nongovernmental organization entities. It is charged with making recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture regarding guidelines to reduce the likelihood that agricultural products imported into the United States are produced with the use of child or forced labor. The Secretary is then required to finalize the guidelines and release them for public comment.
Department of Labor (DOL): DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) carries out civil law enforcement in the nation’s workplaces and its field investigators are often the first government authorities to detect exploitive labor practices. WHD coordinates with other law enforcement agencies to ensure restitution on behalf of victims of trafficking. DOL’s Employment and Training Administration offers job search, placement and counseling services, and vocational skills training to trafficking victims. Additionally, DOL’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs awards international grants to combat exploitive child labor and publishes three reports on child labor and/or forced labor, including the “List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor,” which identifies 122 goods from 58 countries.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): HHS leads the Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign, funds organizations to conduct outreach to foreign and U.S. citizen victims, funds comprehensive case management and support services for foreign victims in the United States, and certifies foreign victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons to be eligible to receive federal benefits and services to the same extent as refugees. A range of programs also assist youth at-risk of trafficking, including the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program. HHS also funds the National Human Trafficking Resource Center that provides a nationwide 24/7 hotline at 1-888-3737-888.
Department of Education (ED): ED’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools uses the internet, listservs, and trainings to raise awareness both to prevent trafficking of children and to increase victim identification of trafficked children in schools. Trafficking often involves school-age children who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation. The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools develops and disseminates materials about preventing human trafficking, such as “Human Trafficking of Children in the United States: A Fact Sheet for Schools.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS): DHS’ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducts domestic and international investigations of human trafficking, child sex tourism, and forced child labor. Worldwide, ICE conducts law enforcement training and public awareness campaigns as part of its outreach efforts. ICE also provides trafficking victims with short-term immigration relief, manages the DHS Victim Assistance Program, and operates a 24-hour hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services grants immigration relief to trafficking victims, while also conducting training for nongovernmental organizations and law enforcement. U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducts public awareness campaigns and victim identification screenings. The U.S. Coast Guard routinely conducts maritime operations independently and with other federal law enforcement agencies and international partners. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center provides human trafficking training to federal, state, local, campus, and tribal law enforcement officers throughout the United States.
Agency for International Development (USAID): USAID funds international programs that prevent trafficking, protect and assist victims, and support prosecutions through training for police and criminal justice personnel. USAID reinforces successful anti-trafficking initiatives by funding programs that support economic development, child protection, women’s empowerment, good governance, education, health, and human rights. USAID supports country assessments of the scope and nature of trafficking and the efforts of governments, civil society, and international organizations to combat it.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The EEOC investigates, attempts to informally resolve, and litigates charges alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, and genetic information. In appropriate cases, therefore, the EEOC is able to secure civil remedies (e.g., monetary and equitable relief) for trafficking victims. In 2010, the EEOC participated for the first time in both the PITF and SPOG meetings as a full partner. The EEOC has committed to active participation in order to identify additional labor trafficking cases through its 53 offices nationwide.