Agencies in the federal government are aligned in efforts to prevent human trafficking, to protect victims and provide them health and human services, and to prosecute offenders and bring traffickers to justice. Through collaboration and partnerships, agencies have developed tools, trainings, and resources to raise awareness about the problem and provide information on how to recognize the signs, contact the appropriate people, and, ultimately, ensure that children are safe and therefore able to thrive. There are also several federal laws developed for preventing and responding to human trafficking issues.
The U.S. government supports a victim-centered approach to this problem. It is committed to upholding a system that recognizes all victims of human trafficking—whether adults or children; male, female, or transgender individuals; U.S. citizens or noncitizens—regardless of the type of modern slavery they endured or their immigration status. It seriously pursues human trafficking cases, prosecutes the traffickers, and funds a number of nongovernmental community-based organizations that assist victims or raise awareness.
The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons developed a plan to strengthen services for victims of human trafficking entitled Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity, the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013-2017 (the Plan) (PDF, 84 pages). The Plan was created to describe the steps that federal agencies are taking to ensure that all victims of human trafficking in the United States are identified and have access to recovery services. The Plan was designed to appeal to a wide audience to bring additional resources, expertise, and partnerships to end human trafficking and better support victims. It lays out four goals, eight objectives, and contains more than 250 associated action items for victim service improvements that can be achieved by 2017. Federal agencies will coordinate efforts and work toward each of these goals simultaneously.
Federal Departments and Agencies
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Safe and Healthy Students
The Office of Safe and Healthy Students developed a fact sheet to inform schools about human trafficking, how it can affect schools, potential signs, how to help, and additional resources.
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center
The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center provides information and resources about Trafficking in Persons/Commerically Sexually Exploited Children.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
ACF administers more than 60 programs to serve children and families across the United States and is the second-largest agency at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Victims and survivors of human trafficking are served through multiple programs.
Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
The Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Division identifies and serves foreign national victims of human trafficking in the United States to help them become eligible for public benefits and services to the same extent as refugees and receive case management services. The program also raises awareness of human trafficking through the Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking campaign. ORR funds the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), which is supported by a grant from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Office of Refugee Resettlement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is run by the nongovernmental organization Polaris Project. In addition to operating a national, victim-centered, toll-free hotline, the NHTRC provides referrals, resources, general information, and training and technical assistance to build individual and practitioner expertise and strengthen local anti-trafficking infrastructure to improve the nationwide response to human trafficking.
Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB)
FYSB operates the Runaway and Homeless Youth, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, and Family Violence Prevention Services programs and particularly works with child trafficking victims intersecting with the runaway and homeless youth centers. Resources on child trafficking are available through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training & Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC), including a fact sheet (PDF, 5 pages) on the issue.
The Children’s Bureau partners with federal, state, tribal, and local agencies, including foster care and adoption systems, to serve victims of child abuse and neglect, many of whom are vulnerable to child trafficking. Resources on child trafficking are available through the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
ASPE published a series of reports and issue briefs in 2007 to inform several aspects of serving victims of human trafficking, including residential facilities for child sex trafficking victims and evidence-based mental health treatments for victims, among other topics.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
The Blue Campaign is the unified voice for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to combat human trafficking. DHS is responsible for investigating human trafficking, arresting traffickers, and protecting victims. DHS also provides immigration relief to eligible noncitizen victims of human trafficking. Working in collaboration with law enforcement, government, and nongovernmental and private organizations, the Blue Campaign strives to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice. View additional resources and trainings at http://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/share-resources.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) helps protect victims of human trafficking and other crimes by providing immigration relief to eligible noncitizen victims of human trafficking and other crimes:
- T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa) T nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of a severe form of human trafficking who would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States. The T Visa allows victims to remain and work in the United States and to assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases. Those under the age of 18 are not required to assist law enforcement.
- U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa) U nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of certain criminal activity who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. The U Visa allows victims to remain and work in the United States and to assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Please see Resources for Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes for more information.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security investigates both international and domestic human trafficking cases and provides support to victims. ICE accomplishes this mission by making full use of its authorities and expertise, collaborating with U.S. and foreign partners to attack networks worldwide, and working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations to identify, rescue, and assist trafficking victims.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Victim Assistance Program
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Victim Assistance Program helps coordinate services to help human trafficking victims, such as crisis intervention, counseling, and emotional support. Victim Assistance Specialists can help by connecting the victim to community-based groups to provide medical, mental health, legal assistance, case management, and other services.
U.S. Department of State
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) leads the United States’ global engagement on the fight against human trafficking by partnering with foreign governments and civil society to develop and implement effective strategies for confronting modern slavery. The TIP Office has responsibility for bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance, and public engagement on trafficking in persons. The Office pursues policies, partnerships, and practices that uphold the “3P” paradigm of protecting victims, preventing trafficking, and prosecuting traffickers. The Office is organized into three primary sections: Reports and Political Affairs, International Programs, and Public Engagement. The Office also has special teams focused on multilateral affairs and strategic planning and budget issues. The TIP Office website offers many resources, including 20 ways individuals can help fight human trafficking. The Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons directs efforts for the Office and chairs the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG), which consists of senior officials designated as representatives of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) members. The SPOG meets to quarterly to coordinate interagency policy, grants, research, and planning issues involving international trafficking in persons and the implementation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations.
U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Justice Assistance
The Bureau of Justice Assistance’s efforts to combat human trafficking include training for law enforcement and communities to identify trafficking in persons and rescue victims by working with federal law enforcement and victims service providers. The Bureau also offers support and funding to task forces (in coordination with the Office for Victims of Crime) based on a sound strategy of collaboration among state and local enforcement, trafficking victim services providers, federal law enforcement, and U.S. Attorney Offices.
Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section
Since its creation in 1987, the mission of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) has been to protect the welfare of the nation’s children and communities by enforcing federal criminal statutes relating to obscenity and the exploitation of children. The CEOS website includes information and resources on child pornography, child sexual abuse, extraterritorial sexual exploitation of children, child prostitution, and more.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Investigative Programs, Violent Crimes Against Children
The mission of the Violent Crimes Against Children program is threefold: to decrease the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation; to develop a nationwide capacity to provide a rapid, effective, and measured investigative response to crimes against children; and to enhance the capabilities of state and local law enforcement investigators through programs, investigative assistance, and task force operations.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
The National Criminal Justice Reference Service provides information, publications, resources, and answers to frequently asked questions on trafficking in persons.
Office for Victims of Crime
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is committed to enhancing the nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime. Since 2003, OVC, with funding authorized by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, has supported the development and enhancement of programs designed to provide a comprehensive array of culturally competent services to victims of human trafficking. This includes partnering with the Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to support a multidisciplinary anti-human trafficking task force model to help communities identify, rescue, and restore victims of human trafficking.
Office of Legal Policy
The Office of Legal Policy coordinates the development of the Department’s anti-trafficking policies and is responsible for compiling the Attorney General’s Annual Report to Congress on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Assessment of U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) supported the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council’s development of Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. This OJJDP-sponsored report examines current approaches to addressing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children, identifies causes and consequences for both victims and offenders, and highlights recommendations to prevent, identify, and respond to these crimes. Learn more about OJJDP and the report.
Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center
The Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center provides a mechanism to bring federal agency representatives from the policy, law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic areas together to work on a full-time basis to address the separate but related issues of alien smuggling, trafficking in persons, and criminal support of clandestine terrorist travel and to convert intelligence into effective law enforcement and other action.