The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children—both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals—subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including domestic servitude. Trafficking can occur in both legal and illicit industries or markets, including in brothels, escort services, massage parlors, strip clubs, street prostitution, hotel services, hospitality, sales crews, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service. Individuals who entered the United States with and without legal status have been identified as trafficking victims, including participants in visa programs for temporary workers who filled labor needs in many of the industries described above. Abuse of third-country nationals providing services for U.S. defense contracts in Afghanistan also has been noted by the media. NGOs reported that visa holders employed as domestic workers were subjected to forced labor by personnel of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations posted to the United States; Native American women and girls were trafficked for the purpose of commercial sex acts; and LGBT youth were particularly vulnerable to traffickers, including a report by one NGO that transgender females were compelled to engage in commercial sex by withholding hormones. The top countries of origin of federally identified victims in fiscal year (FY) 2013 were the United States, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Honduras, Guatemala, India, and El Salvador.
The U.S. government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Federal law enforcement prosecuted more cases than in the previous reporting period, obtained convictions of sex and labor trafficking offenders, and continued to strengthen training efforts of government officials at the federal, state, and tribal levels. Likewise, there were reports of increased prosecutions at the state level; each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have enacted anti-trafficking laws. The federal government continued to provide multi-faceted support for comprehensive victim services, including a pathway to citizenship and access to legal services. In addition, it developed the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013-2017, with input from the public. Greater numbers of trafficking victims and eligible family members obtained long-term immigration relief through T and U visas, and processing times for these visas decreased due to additional resources. Prevention efforts were expanded to new audiences and industries. Challenges remained: NGOs noted the critical need for an increase in the overall funding for comprehensive services; and some trafficking victims, including those under the age of 18 years were reportedly detained or prosecuted for criminal activity related to their being trafficked, notwithstanding the federal policy that victims should not be inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked and similar “safe harbor” laws in some states.
Recommendations for the United States:
Increase screening to identify trafficked persons, including among at-risk youth, detained individuals, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations; engage in culturally-based efforts to strengthen coordination among justice systems for and the provision of services to Native American trafficking victims; take additional measures to apprise domestic workers brought in by diplomatic personnel of their rights and responsibilities; ensure federal law enforcement officials apply in a timely and appropriate manner for Continued Presence, and state and local law enforcement are trained on requesting Continued Presence through a federal law enforcement agency; increase funding for relevant agencies to provide comprehensive victim services both domestically and internationally; collaborate with survivors to improve programs, policies, strategies, and materials; ensure transparency in the implementation of the strategic action plan on victim services in the United States; strengthen interagency coordination on survivor engagement, training, shared terminology, and data collection; enhance the training of law enforcement and prosecutors to increase focus on labor trafficking; strengthen prevention efforts, including addressing the demand for forced labor and commercial sex; encourage state and local officials to adopt victim-centered policies that prohibit prosecuting victims for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; increase training on indicators of human trafficking and the victim-centered approach for criminal and juvenile justice officials, family court officials, labor inspectors, health care professionals, social service and child welfare entities, emergency call operators, and other first responders; and explore technology solutions to combat human trafficking.
The U.S. government demonstrated progress in federal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. U.S. law prohibits human trafficking through statutes reaching its various manifestations, such as peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and sex trafficking, as well as confiscation or destruction of documents, such as passports, to compel or maintain service. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and subsequent reauthorizations have refined the U.S. government’s response to trafficking. In addition to criminalizing these acts, U.S. law prohibits conspiracy and attempts to violate these provisions, as well as obstructing their enforcement. Sex trafficking prosecutions involving children do not require a demonstration of the use of force, fraud, or coercion. A criminal prohibition of fraud in foreign labor contracting exists to reach such practices when the work is done in the United States or outside the United States on a U.S. government contract or on U.S. property or military installations. Penalties prescribed under these statutes are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses: penalties for peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and domestic servitude ranged from five to 20 years’ imprisonment or up to life imprisonment with aggravating factors; penalties for sex trafficking ranged up to life imprisonment with mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking of children aged 14-17 years, and 15 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, or sex trafficking of children under the age of 14 years.
Federal trafficking offenses are investigated by agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), as well as the Department of State’s (DOS) Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Human Trafficking Unit and field elements overseas. Federal human trafficking cases are prosecuted by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO) for the 94 federal judicial districts, as well as by two specialized units—the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU), which oversees prosecutions involving labor trafficking and sex trafficking of adults, and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), which specializes in prosecuting child sexual exploitation offenses, including child sex trafficking and child sex tourism.
The federal government reports its law enforcement data by fiscal year, which runs from October 1 through September 30. In FY 2013, ICE HSI reported opening 1,025 investigations possibly involving human trafficking, an increase from 894 in FY 2012. The FBI formally opened 220 human trafficking investigations concerning suspected adult and foreign child victims, a decrease from 306 in FY 2012, and additionally initiated 514 investigations involving the sex trafficking of children, an increase from 440 in FY 2012. For the FBI to formally open an investigation, there must be an articulable factual basis a crime has occurred. DSS reported investigating 159 human trafficking-related cases worldwide during FY 2013, an increase from 95 in FY 2012. The Department of Defense (DoD) reported investigating nine human trafficking-related cases involving military personnel, an increase from five in FY 2012.
DOJ prosecutes human trafficking cases through the USAOs and the two specialized units that serve as DOJ’s nationwide subject-matter experts and partner with USAOs around the country. Taken together, USAOs, HTPU, and CEOS initiated a total of 161 federal human trafficking prosecutions in FY 2013, charging 253 defendants. Of these, 222 defendants engaged predominately in sex trafficking and 31 engaged predominately in labor trafficking, although multiple defendants engaged in both. In FY 2013, DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, in coordination with USAOs, initiated 71 prosecutions involving forced labor and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, or coercion. Of these, 53 were predominantly sex trafficking and 18 predominantly labor trafficking; several cases involved both.
During FY 2013, DOJ convicted a total of 174 traffickers in cases involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and sex trafficking of children, compared to 138 such convictions obtained in FY 2012. Of these, 113 were predominantly sex trafficking and 25 were predominantly labor trafficking, although several involved both. These totals do not include child sex trafficking cases brought under non-trafficking statutes. In these cases, penalties imposed ranged from probation to life imprisonment plus five years. During the reporting period, federal prosecutors secured life sentences and other significant terms of imprisonment against traffickers in multiple cases.
In response to a request for public comment, NGOs have called for greater transparency in reporting on the results of federal criminal trafficking investigations that do not result in criminal prosecutions. A disparity between the number of investigations and prosecutions can result when the available admissible evidence of trafficking is insufficient to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt as required under U.S. criminal law; legal restrictions preclude disclosure of information about or evidence developed in criminal investigations that do not result in the public filing of charges.
Notable prosecutions in the reporting period involved defendants who lured adults and children through false promises, advertised the victims online, inflicted beatings, and threatened the victims with guns to compel them into commercial sex; defendants who compelled their victims using addictive drugs to coerce them to engage in prostitution, including one defendant who was sentenced to 33 years in prison; 23 defendants who lured victims to the United States on false promises and used violence, threats, and control over the victims’ children to compel the victims to engage in commercial sex acts across the southeastern United States; a defendant convicted of 89 counts of forced labor, visa fraud, and related charges for using manipulation of debts, false promises, and threats of deportation to enslave Filipino workers in a home health care operation; and defendants convicted of confiscating the public benefits of a woman with cognitive disabilities and her child, and holding the woman in forced labor as a domestic servant.
During the reporting period, DOJ, with DHS and the Department of Labor (DOL), continued to support and train six pilot Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams to enhance coordination among federal prosecutors and agents. DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) co-funded 16 anti-trafficking taskforces nationwide, comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement, labor officials, and victim service providers. Each USAO was directed in 2012 to establish or participate in human trafficking taskforces, and each of the 94 offices had done so by the end of FY 2013. The number of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Forces, which focus in part on the sex trafficking of children, increased to 69 in FY 2013 from 66 in FY 2012.
While federal law applies across the United States, state laws form the basis of the majority of criminal actions, making adoption of state anti-trafficking laws key to institutionalizing concepts of compelled service for rank-and-file local police officers. All states and all U.S. territories have enacted anti-trafficking criminal statutes in recent years. All 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the prostitution of children under state or local laws that predate the TVPA; however, in some cases, trafficked victims, including those under the age of 18 years, continue to be treated as criminal offenders. By the close of the reporting period, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted laws that define child sex trafficking consistent with federal law with no requirement to prove force, fraud, or coercion for victims under the age of 18 years; 18 states, an increase from 14, enacted “safe harbor” laws that formally identify those under the age of 18 years as victims, and, in some states, fund and provide services, instead of prosecuting them for prostitution; and 14 states, an increase from eight, enacted laws to allow trafficking victims to petition the court to vacate historical prostitution-related criminal convictions that resulted from trafficking. Although these laws reflect an increased effort by state legislatures, only 32 states and the District of Columbia provided designated victim assistance as part of their anti-trafficking framework.
During FY 2013, 16 DOJ-funded taskforces reported 828 investigations involving 717 suspects in human trafficking-related cases, an increase in investigations from 753 in FY 2012 involving 736 suspects from 26 taskforces. These investigations may overlap with numbers reported above by federal law enforcement, as parallel investigations may occur. The federal government began collecting data on human trafficking investigations from state and local law enforcement during the reporting period through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
Media reports indicate an increase in the number of state prosecutions: over 100 cases were prosecuted at the state level. While there was a heavy emphasis on sex trafficking cases, especially of children, cases range from sex trafficking—including in illicit massage parlors and of individuals with intellectual disabilities—to cases of exploitation for forced labor, including domestic servitude and of children in sales crews. During the reporting period, state prosecutors secured a range of sentences for sex and labor traffickers, including a 40-year sentence for the sex trafficking of girls with cognitive disabilities in Minnesota.
At least three instances of complicity of government officials in human trafficking cases were reported: a local police officer in the District of Columbia was arrested on felony charges of pandering two minors; in Texas, a local juvenile probation officer and five gang members were arrested and indicted on charges of child sex trafficking; and in Guam, two officers were convicted of sex trafficking-related charges, one of whom was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment.
The U.S. government continued efforts to train law enforcement officials and enhanced information-sharing. Federal agencies developed a referral protocol to enable 50 “fusion centers” to share information related to law enforcement investigations, and began a pilot project in 10 countries to increase the flow of information about human trafficking overseas with a nexus to the United States.
The federal government enhanced its protection measures to increase victim identification and fund services to identified victims, including by increasing funding for family reunification. It also released the strategic action plan on victim services in the United States, which was informed by input from survivors of human trafficking and other stakeholders. The authorities for the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women were expanded to enhance the ability of communities to assist victims of trafficking, particularly tribal and youth victims of sex trafficking. The federal government has formal procedures to guide officials in victim identification and referral to service providers; funds several federal tip lines, including an NGO-operated national hotline and referral service; and funds NGOs that provide trafficking-specific victim services. The government also supports foreign national and U.S. citizen victims during trafficking investigations and prosecutions by using victim assistance coordinators in law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices and by providing immigration relief to victims.
Federally-funded victim assistance includes case management and referrals to resources such as: medical and dental care, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, sustenance and shelter, translation and interpretation services, immigration and legal assistance, employment and training services, transportation assistance, and other services, such as criminal justice advocacy. Federal funding for victim assistance generally increased during the reporting period and was provided primarily by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for comprehensive case management on a per capita basis for foreign national victims, and by DOJ’s OVC using a comprehensive services model or specialized service delivery for trafficking victims identified within a specific geographic area.
HHS issues a certification letter that enables a foreign national victim to receive federal and state benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee when Continued Presence is granted or when a victim of a severe form of trafficking has a bona fide or approved application for T nonimmigrant status. Child trafficking victims are eligible immediately for an HHS certification letter. In FY 2013, HHS issued 406 such certifications to foreign national adults and 114 eligibility letters to foreign national children, compared to 366 adults and 103 children in FY 2012.
HHS awarded $4.5 million in FY 2013 to three NGOs for the provision of case-management services to foreign national victims through a nationwide network of NGO sub-recipients, a decrease from $4.8 million in FY 2012. Through these grants, HHS supported 138 NGO service providers across the country that provided trafficking victim assistance to a total of 915 individual clients and family members, a 20 percent increase compared to the prior fiscal year. An increase in the enrollment of victims and their family members caused uncertainty as to whether ORR-funded services would be available for new and existing clients during the last three months of the fiscal year. In response, ORR provided grant supplements to the three NGOs totaling $350,000, and NGOs limited assistance to family members and, in some cases, reduced reimbursements to sub-recipients during that period.
HHS provides services to individuals who are trafficking victims and who intersect with runaway and homeless youth and domestic violence programs, among others; and awarded approximately $38 million for its Runaway and Homeless Youth Program for this purpose. HHS currently does not collect data on the number of trafficked clients served through these programs.
Unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who come to the attention of federal authorities are placed in the care and custody of HHS, which screens these children for trafficking victimization in the United States or abroad. When appropriate, HHS makes a determination of eligibility for benefits and services, which may include long-term assistance. During FY 2013, more than 24,000 UACs were referred to HHS for care and custody. Of the unaccompanied minors identified by HHS as victims of trafficking, 20 were placed in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program, which establishes legal responsibility under state law for such children to ensure they receive the full range of assistance, care, and services available to foster children in the state.
OVC continued to administer grant funding and oversee special initiatives, including comprehensive services. OVC funding was used to serve both foreign national and U.S. citizen victims, with the number of U.S. citizens served increasing by 25 percent since the previous reporting period. From July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, OVC grantees reported more than 1,911 open client cases, including 1,009 new victims, compared with 1,300 open client cases and 775 new victims in the previous reporting period. During FY 2013, OVC competitively awarded new funding to 19 victim service organizations across the United States, totaling approximately $7.9 million, an increase from $5.7 million in FY 2012.
Record-keeping systems used by DOJ and HHS did not allow for cross-referencing to determine which victims were served by both agencies during different stages of the process. NGOs reported that federal funding streams and grants for victim services remained limited given the scope of the problem, and that they were unable to provide comprehensive care options for all types of trafficking victims. Federal agencies joined a charitable foundation in a public-private partnership to address sustainable housing, economic empowerment, and social services.
The United States provides trafficking-specific immigration relief to foreign trafficking victims in two ways: short-term Continued Presence and longer-term “T nonimmigrant status” (commonly referred to as the T visa). Both statuses confer the right to legally work in the United States. T visa applicants must show cooperation with reasonable requests from law enforcement unless they are under 18 years of age or are unable to cooperate due to trauma suffered. In the application for the T visa, victims may petition for certain family members, including certain extended family members who face a present danger of retaliation; recipients and their derivative family members are authorized to work and are eligible for federal public benefits and services. After three years, or upon the completion of the investigation or prosecution, victims with T visas may be eligible to apply for permanent resident status and eventually may be eligible for citizenship.
In FY 2013, Continued Presence was issued to 171 trafficking victims who were potential witnesses, a decrease from 199 in FY 2012. NGOs reported improper application of internal protocols and delays or refusals to file applications for Continued Presence by DHS field offices. DHS began updating the tool used by law enforcement to streamline the application process. T nonimmigrant status was granted to 848 victims and 975 eligible family members of victims, representing an increase from 674 and 758, respectively, from the previous period. The application processing time for T visas decreased, but scheduled updates to implementing regulations were not released. NGOs noted that the lack of DOL protocols regarding law enforcement certification, which strengthens the T visa application, limited some victims’ access to related public benefits.
Another immigration benefit available to victims of trafficking is the U nonimmigrant status (commonly referred to as the U visa) for victims of certain qualifying crimes who are helping, have helped, or will help law enforcement. There is a 10,000 statutory maximum for the U visa each fiscal year. In FY 2013, there were nine approved principal applicants where trafficking was the qualifying crime. DHS added additional resources to adjudicate U visas in the fourth quarter of FY 2013, and provided employment authorization for waitlisted U visa applicants.
In 2013, a government-funded program brought 240 family members to the United States to join identified victims of trafficking, an increase from 209 in FY 2012, and provided two survivors with assistance returning to their home countries. DOS provided $813,000 in FY 2013 to support this program.
The federal government continued to provide victim protection training to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, as well as to NGO service providers and the general public. DHS trained all new asylum officers on referral procedures, trained various audiences on immigration benefits, and required ICE officers to screen for human trafficking indicators among the UAC population. DOL employed full-time U visa coordinators in each of five Wage and Hour Division (WHD) regions and hosted stakeholder meetings to discuss employment and training for trafficking survivors; and the Department of Education continued the development of an anti-trafficking guide for schools that includes a victim identification component. In addition, DOS engaged federal agencies participating in anti-trafficking taskforces to educate members about the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program. HHS initiated a pilot training to increase the medical and health care systems’ response to human trafficking.
NGOs expressed concern that some government officials misunderstood complex legal aspects of human trafficking cases, including coercion and consent, and did not consistently take a victim-centered approach. In some instances, employees of public benefits offices and child welfare agencies lacked training and official guidance to provide critical support services to victims of trafficking. Existing services for victims were often disproportionately available to female and child survivors of sex trafficking. Shelter and housing for all trafficking victims, especially male and labor trafficking victims, continued to be insufficient, and one NGO reported that potential cases of labor trafficking were still being viewed too often as “workplace disputes” or contract violations, rather than being investigated as potential criminal matters. It was reported in some cases that immigration enforcement by state and local law enforcement officers appeared to have impacted immigrant victims’ willingness to approach local police for help.
Although federal, state, and local grant programs existed for vulnerable children and at-risk youth, including the homeless, identified child trafficking victims, especially boys and transgender youth, faced difficulties obtaining needed services. HHS increased funding during the reporting period to train service providers for runaway and homeless youth and provided formal guidance to states and service providers on addressing child trafficking, particularly as it intersects with the child welfare system and runaway and homeless youth programs. NGOs noted more reports than in previous years of gang-controlled child sex trafficking and of the growing use of social media by traffickers to recruit and control victims. NGOs expressed concern that federal and state efforts to prevent and respond to child labor trafficking allegations were inadequate.
During the reporting period, some trafficking victims, including those under 18 years of age, were reportedly detained or prosecuted for conduct committed as a direct result of being trafficked. In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 136 males and 443 females under 18 years of age were reported to the federal government as having been arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice by state and local authorities, compared to 190 males and 581 females in 2011.
The U.S. government made progress on efforts to prevent trafficking. The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) and its coordinating body, the Senior Policy Operating Group, continued work on federal anti-trafficking efforts. Federal agencies provided increased opportunities for stakeholder input and transparency, such as a listening session for survivors and requests for public comment on federal policies, including on preventing trafficking in federal contracts. The U.S. government also reports annually on its activities to combat human trafficking in a report compiled and published by DOJ, a compilation of agency accomplishments to combat human trafficking prepared by PITF agencies, and this Report.
There were reports of abuses, including allegations of human trafficking, of workers in the United States on work-based or other nonimmigrant visas. Rules for both the H-2A program (temporary agricultural workers) and H-2B program (temporary non-agricultural workers) prohibit employers and their foreign labor recruiters, attorneys, and agents from either directly or indirectly charging foreign workers job placement, recruitment, or other fees related to employment. Included in this category are fees related to obtaining a DOL labor certification that there are insufficient U.S. workers available to perform the needed work and that the importation of the foreign worker(s) will not adversely affect U.S. workers.
In the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program, DOS prohibits jobs deemed dangerous to exchange visitor health, safety, and welfare, such as certain sales positions, domestic positions in private homes, positions involving patient contact, and all adult entertainment industry positions. DOS implemented a monitoring program to ensure participant health, safety, and welfare, and during the reporting period, conducted more than 700 site visits and 3,000 monitoring interviews in 32 states targeted to certain placements, including those with prior problems. DOS also continues to operate a 24-hour emergency hotline to respond to complaints. NGOs noted vulnerabilities in the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program that can potentially facilitate human trafficking, including wage theft, discrimination, and illegal recruitment practices; unauthorized deductions for housing, uniforms, transportation, and other expenses; and exploitation by recruiters charging exchange visitors exorbitant fees.
Reports continued of forced labor by federal defense contractors and subcontractors in Afghanistan, who exploited third-country nationals through debt bondage, charging them recruitment fees, and requiring long work hours with little time off for low pay. The FBI investigated allegations of debt bondage and excessive recruitment fees that were required of third-country nationals working on certain U.S. government contracts. There were no reports of civil actions or criminal prosecutions, or other sanctions against noncompliant employers and labor contractors, including debarment of noncompliant employers or labor contractors from U.S. programs.
The government continued prevention efforts within A-3 and G-5 visa categories, which allow persons to enter the United States as domestic workers employed by foreign diplomatic or consular personnel, or by foreign employees of international organizations. In 2013, DOS issued a diplomatic note advising Chiefs of Mission that domestic workers employed in the private residences of foreign diplomatic personnel ordinarily do not qualify for A-2 visas. DOS sustained prevention activities by separately briefing foreign Deputy Chiefs of Mission and the NGO community on the requirements relevant to mission personnel employing such domestic workers, and updated the current prevailing wage rate for domestic workers. There were allegations of abuse of such foreign domestic workers; some resulted in civil lawsuits and others in criminal charges against foreign mission personnel.
The government continued public outreach measures about the causes and consequences of human trafficking. HHS funded 11 projects to conduct outreach, public awareness, and identification efforts. HHS continued to fund an NGO to operate a National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) and hotline, which received over 29,000 phone calls in FY 2013, a 37 percent increase from FY 2012. Approximately 46 percent of calls to the NHTRC related to human trafficking. DOS, at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, distributed a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet and provided verbal briefings for approved student or work-based visa applicants, efforts which subsequently generated 912 calls to the national human trafficking hotline. The Department of Transportation and DHS partnered with five U.S. commercial airlines and offered training on human trafficking and a referral process to alert federal law enforcement. DHS worked with emergency medical and first responder associations and announced an anti-trafficking partnership with a global money transfer service. In partnership with the FBI, the Department of Education raised awareness and provided technical assistance through webinars and directives to chief school resource officers in each state. The U.S. Agency for International Development provided training to foreign law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors, assisted foreign governments in developing law and policy, and leveraged technology and social media to raise awareness. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted more than 250 outreach events, including media interviews, oral presentations, stakeholder input meetings, and counseling sessions with underserved populations.
The government also conducted a number of internally-focused awareness activities for its own personnel, including general awareness trainings, trainings specific to law enforcement and acquisition professionals, and increased efforts to train staff in field offices.
Civil enforcement of federal laws, even those not specific to human trafficking, was a significant component of the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. DOL field investigators were often the first government authorities to detect exploitative labor practices, and the DOL WHD targeted industries employing vulnerable workers, such as the agriculture, garment, janitorial, restaurant, and hospitality industries. EEOC, which enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other employment discrimination statutes, continued to litigate four cases involving human trafficking on behalf of several hundred claimants in FY 2013.
Federal law allows for trafficked persons to independently file a civil cause of action. At the end of 2013, 10 years since the creation of this remedy, NGOs reported that at least 117 cases had been filed and that, of those, 75 percent had positive results.
U.S. laws provide extraterritorial jurisdiction over child sex tourism offenses perpetrated overseas by U.S. citizens. The federal government made 57 criminal arrests resulting in 40 indictments and 32 convictions in child sex tourism cases in FY 2013. The U.S. government undertook efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex and forced labor in the reporting period. DoD continued to implement measures to strengthen compliance with its policy prohibiting human trafficking and investigated 27 cases of service members allegedly violating DoD’s prohibition relating to the procurement of commercial sex. DOL published an update to the list of goods it has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards; the update removed three items from the list. DOL also updated a list of products produced, mined, or manufactured with forced or indentured child labor; any contractor to the federal government that supplies products on this list must certify they have made a “good faith effort” to determine the products supplied were not made under conditions involving forced or indentured child labor. A federally-funded report estimated the size of the underground commercial sex economy in eight U.S. cities to range from $39.9 to $290 million. A separate federally-funded report found that 30 percent of migrant laborers surveyed in one California community were victims of labor trafficking and 55 percent were victims of labor abuse, with janitorial and construction workers reporting the most instances of exploitation and abuse.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) provides services directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts to 566 federally recognized tribes with a service population of about 1.9 million American Indian and Alaska Natives, known to include populations vulnerable to human trafficking. DOI conducted investigations in Indian Country and identified human trafficking victims, continued to work in the oil-boom Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana, and assigned agents to Indian Country to address trafficking. DOJ partnered with a regional training institute to develop a course on human trafficking in Indian Country for state criminal justice officials, as well as a tribal youth peer-to-peer human trafficking curriculum. Challenges included a lack of collaboration between local law enforcement and tribal agencies, inadequate training for tribal law enforcement, the impact of criminal gangs on indigenous communities, and victims’ fear in reporting trafficking to law enforcement. HHS integrated human trafficking as part of its tribal consultation and announced a funding opportunity that includes services for victims of human trafficking.
U.S. Insular Areas
The U.S. insular areas consist of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI); federal authority over these areas resides with DOI. While the U.S. government has Compacts of Free Association with Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, they are independent of the United States and are thus discussed in separate narratives.
The territory of American Samoa is believed to be a transit and destination location for human trafficking. In FY 2013, there were no known human trafficking cases. In March 2014, the legislature in American Samoa passed the territory’s first anti-trafficking law, which criminalizes human trafficking as a felony offense, with a penalty of five to 10 years’ imprisonment, and a mandatory 10 years’ imprisonment if a minor was involved.
CNMI is a destination and transit location for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. In February 2014, the U.S. District Court for the CNMI accepted the guilty plea of a woman for child sex trafficking and, in a separate case, sentenced a defendant for the sex trafficking of a Chinese woman at a karaoke club to 235 months in prison and ordered almost $10,000 in restitution to the victim.
The territory of Guam is a source and transit location for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. In a case proceeding from a federal sex trafficking prosecution in a prior reporting period, two Guam police officers were found guilty of local offenses for their involvement in the scheme; one of the officers was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment.
During the reporting period, the USAO for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands conducted trainings on trafficking investigations for officials in the Pacific regional community. In addition, the Guam Human Trafficking Task Force, which comprises federal and local law enforcement agencies, victim and social service providers, faith-based organizations, and other community groups, conducted workshops for medical and health professionals and engaged in community outreach efforts.
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a source, transit, and destination location for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. During the reporting period, a man was arrested for allegations including human trafficking of a minor. While three sections of Puerto Rico’s penal code address human trafficking and slavery, it has not been updated to reflect modern anti-trafficking laws.
USVI is a transit location for human trafficking. The Virgin Islands Code prohibits trafficking in persons. An anti-trafficking bill, still pending before the legislature, was drafted last year to update this law with criminal offenses for labor and sex trafficking, victim services, restitution, and asset forfeiture.