How does the U.S. government respond?
- Services for Survivors
- Federal agency efforts
- Services for Survivors
The U.S. Government has enacted four federal laws that specifically address human trafficking both internationally and domestically. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) adopted a three-pronged approach to combat trafficking: protect victims, punish traffickers, and prevent trafficking. It also created a non-immigrant T visa for foreign born victims of human trafficking in the U.S. There have been three reauthorizations of the original TVPA which strengthen U.S. efforts to combat trafficking in persons. These are the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization of 2005, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization of 2008.
Services available to foreign national survivors of trafficking
According to the TVPA a foreign national victim of a severe form of trafficking has certain rights and is eligible for benefits including immigration relief, social services, and access to refugee benefit programs.
Foreign national victims may receive benefits and services to the same extent as refugees through certification or eligibility determination from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS/ORR). Adult victims are certified, whereas minor victims are determined eligible. Benefits and services certified victims may be eligible for include Medicaid, Refugee Medical Assistance, Refugee Cash Assistance, job training and employment programs, food stamps, and victim compensation funds. To receive certification, an adult foreign national victim must:
- be a victim of a severe form of trafficking as defined by the TVPA,
- be willing to assist law enforcement in every reasonable way with the investigation and prosecution of their case, AND
- have received continued presence from USCIS, OR
- have received a bona fide determination of the T visa, OR
- have received a T visa.
The Department of Justice, Office of Victim Crime and HHS/ORR provide programs in which survivors of human trafficking receive benefits and social services.
USCCB/MRS administers the Anti-Trafficking Per Capita Services Program through a contract with HHS/ORR to provide services to survivors of human trafficking across the country.
Federal agency efforts
Many federal agencies have established programs or projects to combat trafficking in persons, both domestically and internationally. Some of these efforts are summarized below:
- Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS/ORR)
HHS/ORR is responsible for certifying and determining eligible foreign national victims of human trafficking upon eligibility. Once certified/determined eligible, victims of trafficking are eligible to receive federal benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee.
HHS/ORR also contracts with USCCB/MRS to provide comprehensive case management services to survivors. The program is administered via subcontracts between local social service agencies and USCCB/MRS. Visit Anti-Trafficking Per Capita Services Program for more information.
HHS/ORR also awards a variety of direct service and outreach grants to organizations throughout the country to assist victims and promote awareness. These grants fall into two general categories:
- Grants that raise public awareness, build coalitions, and provide training and technical expertise to law enforcement agents, social service providers, and other professionals.
- Grants that provide outreach to vulnerable populations in order to identify victims. Outreach efforts include direct support, person-to-person awareness raising, and information sharing.
HHS/ORR administers the Rescue and Restore Campaign, a public awareness campaign to identify and assist trafficked persons. A critical component of the Rescue and Restore campaign is the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1.888.3737.888) which connects victims and other callers with service providers.
Office of Victims of Crime (DOJ/OVC) also funds and administers programs for services for survivors of human trafficking who are foreign nationals. DOJ/OVC programs serve individuals prior to certification by HHS/ORR.
Civil Rights Division (DOJ/CRD) has the primary responsibility of prosecuting trafficking cases in the U.S. It works closely with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases.
The Civil Rights Division also runs the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line at 1-888-428-7581, a mechanism for individuals to report suspect trafficking crimes.
Office of Legal Policy (DOJ/OLP) produces the Attorney General’s annual report to Congress on U.S. government efforts to combat trafficking.
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) has the primary responsibility to investigate human trafficking cases both internally and abroad. DHS/ICE also provides training and support to international and domestic law enforcement and coordinates the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, an interagency intelligence project.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) coordinates with ICE to grant Continued Presence, a temporary stay of deportation, for victims whose assistance may effectuate the prosecution of their traffickers. USCIS also awards T non-immigrant visas, a special four-year visa for victims of trafficking which will allow them to adjust to legal permanent residence status upon eligibility.
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (DOS/G/TIP) funds international anti-trafficking programs and produces the annual Trafficking in Persons Report which highlights human trafficking trends and best practices to combat it around the world. It is used as a diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments in efforts to combat trafficking.
Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (DOS/PRM) also funds international anti-trafficking programs. Additionally, it administers the Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification Program for Victims of Trafficking.
USAID funds international anti-trafficking programs to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and train judicial officials to aid in the prosecution of traffickers.
DOD conducts awareness raising for all of its personnel.
DOE has developed awareness raising materials such as “Human Trafficking of Children in the U.S: A Fact Sheet for Schools.”
DOL offers programs such as job training and placement services through its One Stop Career Center System. This program is available to victims upon certification by HHS/ORR.
International Labor Affairs (ILAB) provides technical assistance to international organizations and other governments around the eradication of exploitative child labor. DOL/ILAB also conducts research and funds international anti-trafficking programs that focus on reducing the vulnerability of children who are at risk or have been trafficked into exploitative labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
Wage and Hour Division (DOL/WHD) investigates complaints of labor law violation and subsequently helps in the identification of trafficking victims.