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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Overview of U.S. Government Agencies' Principal Roles to Combat Trafficking in Persons

Fact Sheet
April 1, 2009


Several agencies within the U.S. Government play a role in combating human trafficking. The agencies described in this document participate in the Senior Policy Operating Group on Human Trafficking, which is chaired by the Director of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and reports to the President's Interagency Trafficking Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This interagency working group coordinates the implementation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and addresses emerging interagency policy, grants, and planning issues.

Department Health and Human Services (HHS)
HHS is responsible for certifying foreign victims of human trafficking once they are identified. HHS issues certification letters for foreign adult trafficking victims to confer eligibility for certain benefits and services under any federally funded program to the same extent as refugees.1 HHS issues similar letters of eligibility to foreign minor trafficking victims (under age 18), who can be referred to the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program for foster care placement, when appropriate. HHS funding focuses on TIP victim assistance and increasing awareness and identification of foreign and internally trafficked victims in the United States. Through the HHS Per-Capita Services contract implemented by civil society partners, HHS provides "anytime, anywhere" services to foreign human trafficking victims, including prior to certification. HHS also funds the Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center with an information and referral hotline at 1-888-3737-888.

Department of Justice (DOJ)
The DOJ Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section has the primary enforcement responsibility for the forced labor, adult sex trafficking, involuntary servitude, and peonage statutes. It works closely with the FBI, DHS/ICE, other federal and local law enforcement agencies, and U.S. Attorneys Offices to investigate and prosecute cases of trafficking in persons. The Civil Rights Division also funds and staffs its national complaint line for reporting trafficking crimes at 1-888-428-7581. The Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), in conjunction with federal and local law enforcement agencies, focuses on cases involving child sex trafficking, such as children exploited in prostitution in the U.S. The Bureau of Justice Assistance funds certain domestic programs, such as the Human Trafficking Task Forces throughout the U.S., and the Office for Victims of Crime provides assistance to TIP victims prior to certification. The National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics conduct TIP research. The Office of Legal Policy produces the Attorney General's Annual Report to Congress and the Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
DHS investigates cases of trafficking and is an important partner in victim identification through investigations conducted by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE investigates human trafficking cases both domestically and abroad. Suspicious activity associated with trafficking in persons can be reported to ICE's twenty-four hour hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. ICE's anti‑trafficking enforcement activities also include providing training and support to international and domestic law enforcement. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) awards T‑visas and coordinates with ICE's Law Enforcement Parole Branch which approves continued presence status.

Department of Labor (DOL)
DOL offers programs such as job-search, job-placement assistance, and job‑counseling services as well as educational and training services. DOL provides referrals to supportive services such as transportation, childcare, and housing through its One‑Stop Career Center System, which victims can access after HHS certification. DOL's Job Corps program provides educational opportunities to eligible young people (ages 16 through 24) and offers career technical and academic training to prepare students for success in more than 100 occupations. The Wage and Hour Division investigates complaints of labor law violation, and is an important partner in the identification of TIP victims. DOL also funds international anti-trafficking in persons programs that focus on children who are at risk of, or who have been trafficked into exploitive labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

Agency for International Development (USAID)
USAID funds international anti-trafficking in persons programs that prevent trafficking, protect and assist victims, and support prosecutions through training for officials in judicial systems. USAID reinforces successful anti-trafficking initiatives by funding programs that support economic development, good governance, education, health, and human rights, and flow from country-based collaborative frameworks that have the committed participation of civil society, government, and law enforcement.

Department of State (DOS)
DOS chairs the interagency Senior Policy Operating Group and Cabinet-level President's Interagency Task Force responsible for coordinating anti-trafficking policies and programs. 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. G/TIP also produces the annual Trafficking in Persons Report which spotlights modern-day 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. PRM funds the Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification Program for Victims of Trafficking.

Department of Education (DoEd)
DoEd is working to raise TIP awareness and increase victim identification among schools via a network of school officials and after-school programs.

Department of Defense (DOD)
DOD developed and fielded a general TIP awareness, Leadership, and Law Enforcement training modules and is conducting awareness training annually for all personnel. DOD has adopted a zero‑tolerance policy on prostitution and human trafficking and amended its Manual for Courts Martial in October 2005 so that patronizing a prostitute is a chargeable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In February 2007, DOD published an internal Regulatory Instruction that clarifies the role and responsibilities of the Military Services and the Combatant Commanders (COCOMs) in combating TIP.

Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center (HSTC)
The HSTC serves as the federal government's intelligence fusion center and information clearinghouse for federal agencies addressing the inter-related problems of human smuggling, trafficking in persons, and clandestine terrorist travel. The HSTC brings together subject matter experts to leverage agencies' knowledge, expertise, and authorities to address the global threat of illicit travel. The HSTC serves as a focal point for international police agencies, acts as the official point of contact for INTERPOL on trafficking matters, and sits on the Steering Committee of the INTERPOL Working Group on Trafficking in Human Beings.

1 Benefits and services include: housing or shelter assistance, food assistance, income assistance, employment assistance, English language training, health care assistance, and mental health services.

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