United States

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Report

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Tier 1

The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, transgender individuals, and children—both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals—subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Trafficking can occur in both legal and illicit industries, including in commercial sex, hospitality, sales crews, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, shipyards, restaurants, health and elder care, salon services, fairs and carnivals, peddling and begging, 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. Government officials, companies, and NGOs have expressed concern about the risk of human trafficking in global supply chains, including in federal contracts. Victims originate from almost every region of the world; the top three countries of origin of federally identified victims in fiscal year (FY) 2014 were the United States, Mexico, and the Philippines. Particularly vulnerable populations in the United States include: children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; runaway and homeless youth; children working in agriculture; American Indians and Alaska Natives; migrant laborers; foreign national domestic workers in diplomatic households; employees of businesses in ethnic communities; populations with limited English proficiency; persons with disabilities; rural populations; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Some U.S. citizens engage in child sex tourism in foreign countries.

The U.S. government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The federal government continued to investigate and prosecute both sex and labor trafficking, sustaining high prosecution rates. It also continued to provide various types of specialized services to a greater number of trafficking victims, as well as various types of immigration relief for foreign national victims, including a pathway to citizenship. Prevention efforts included amendment of the Federal Acquisition Regulation to strengthen protections against trafficking in federal contracts. Challenges remain: some NGOs continued to express concern that government officials did not consistently take a victim-centered approach. Some trafficking victims, including those under the age of 18 years, were detained or prosecuted by state or local officials for criminal activity related to their being subjected to trafficking, notwithstanding “safe harbor” laws in some states or the federal policy that victims should not be penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES:

Encourage the adoption of victim-centered policies at the state and local levels that ensure victims, including children, are not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; support appropriate housing for child trafficking victims that ensures their physical and mental health and safety; increase screening to identify trafficked persons among at-risk youth, detained individuals, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations; vigorously prosecute labor trafficking; seek input from survivors to improve training, programs, and policies; ensure that criminal restitution is sought for trafficking victims; strengthen prevention efforts, including addressing the demand for commercial sex; engage in culturally based efforts to strengthen coordination among criminal justice and social service systems on behalf of Native American trafficking victims; ensure federal law enforcement officials apply timely for, and state and local law enforcement officials are trained on requesting, Continued Presence for eligible victims; increase training, including in the U.S. insular areas, on indicators of human trafficking and the victim-centered approach for criminal and juvenile justice officials, family court officials, labor inspectors, consular officers, social service and child welfare entities, and first responders; provide links to press releases on federal trafficking cases in a single online location; and support new research on trafficking as it relates to diplomats, military personnel, peacekeepers, and other forms of official complicity.

PROSECUTION

The U.S. government demonstrated progress in federal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended (TVPA), prohibits all forms of human trafficking. In addition to criminalizing these acts, U.S. law prohibits conspiracy and attempts to violate these provisions, as well as obstructing their enforcement and benefitting financially from these acts. Sex trafficking prosecutions involving children do not require proof of the use of force, fraud, or coercion. A criminal statute on fraud in foreign labor prohibits the use of fraud to recruit workers for work performed in the United States, or elsewhere on a U.S. government contract, U.S. property, or military installation. Penalties prescribed under these statutes are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses: penalties ranged up to life imprisonment. The U.S. Congress introduced several bills in 2014 and 2015 that address trafficking, and in September 2014, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act became law. It amends a federal foster care program to address trafficking, among other things.

The federal agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting human trafficking offenses remain as described in the 2014 TIP Report U.S. narrative. The reporting period marked the culmination of Phase I of the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative launched in 2011 by the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security (DHS), and Labor (DOL), which successfully streamlined trafficking investigations and prosecutions. An internal assessment of ACTeam Districts found a significant increase in anti-trafficking convictions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, and coercion. DOJ funded 14 Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) anti-trafficking task forces, comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement; labor officials; and victim service providers. During the reporting period, DOL strengthened its mechanism for detecting and referring potential trafficking cases to law enforcement partners, as appropriate.

The federal government reports its law enforcement data by fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). In FY 2014, DHS’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported opening 987 investigations possibly involving human trafficking, a decrease from 1,025 in FY 2013. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) formally opened 835 human trafficking investigations, an increase from 734 in FY 2013, and DOJ’s ECM taskforces initiated 1,083 investigations. The Department of State (DOS) reported opening 154 human trafficking-related cases worldwide during FY 2014, a decrease from 159 in FY 2013. The Department of Defense (DoD) reported investigating 14 human trafficking-related cases involving military personnel, an increase from nine in FY 2013.

DOJ prosecutes human trafficking cases through the 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAOs) and the two specialized units that serve as DOJ’s nationwide subject-matter experts. Taken together, DOJ initiated a total of 208 federal human trafficking prosecutions in FY 2014, charging 335 defendants. Of these prosecutions, 190 involved predominantly sex trafficking and 18 involved predominantly labor trafficking, although some involved both. These figures represent an increase from FY 2013, during which DOJ brought 161 prosecutions charging 253 defendants.

During FY 2014, DOJ secured convictions against 184 traffickers, compared with 174 convictions obtained in FY 2013. Of these, 157 involved predominantly sex trafficking and 27 involved predominantly labor trafficking, although several involved both. These totals do not include child sex trafficking cases brought under non-trafficking statutes. Penalties imposed on convicted traffickers ranged from five years to life imprisonment. For the first time, the government used an extraterritorial jurisdiction provision of the law to convict a trafficker for sex trafficking that took place in another country.

NGOs called for more specific, easily accessible data on federal, state, and local trafficking prosecutions, and for increased prioritization of forced labor prosecutions. A federally-funded report found that in some instances, law enforcement agencies had difficulty identifying labor trafficking and distinguishing it from other forms of labor exploitation and workplace violations, and that victims’ willingness to self-identify and cooperate with law enforcement varied depending on the levels of trust that law enforcement agents established with potential victims and victim service providers.

NGOs voiced concern that federal prosecutors did not vigorously seek mandatory restitution for victims of trafficking. An NGO report released during the reporting period found that, between 2009 and 2012, federal courts ordered restitution in only 36 percent of cases and forced labor victims were substantially more likely to obtain restitution than sex trafficking victims, receiving nearly five times more in restitution on average. The report noted that, while many prosecutors seek restitution, there is confusion about when and on what grounds restitution is owed to sex trafficking victims, and efforts to obtain restitution may falter in cases in which victims performed services that are illegal.

The government demonstrated results in addressing official complicity at both the federal and state levels. The government reported at least four new instances of complicity of government officials in human trafficking. An Army service member was arrested on charges of sex trafficking involving a 17-year-old. A Navy service member was arrested in Hawaii on charges of sex trafficking a 16-year-old. Another Navy service member was investigated on allegations of child sex trafficking and was sentenced in Virginia to five years’ imprisonment on lesser charges. A third Navy service member was sentenced for several crimes, including pandering, to 10 years’ imprisonment in California for using a child for commercial sex acts involving six other active-duty Navy members. The government made progress on cases mentioned in the previous year’s TIP Report. A police officer in the District of Columbia was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for exploiting girls in prostitution-related activities, and in Texas, a juvenile probation officer was convicted of sex trafficking. These four convictions of officials represent an increase from two the previous year.

In addition to federal laws, 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. A 2014 NGO report found improvement in states’ anti-trafficking laws in recent years, but noted that funding to ensure the implementation of these new laws was a challenge. The report also found there is still a need for state laws that comprehensively assist and protect victims of human trafficking. Another report noted that, even in states with labor trafficking laws, loopholes in federal immigration law and weak state labor codes may hinder prosecution of labor traffickers. In some cases, trafficking victims, including those under the age of 18 years, continued to be treated as criminal offenders.

The federal government continued to collect state and local data on human trafficking investigations during the reporting period through FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program; however, not all state and local jurisdictions participated, and at the time of reporting, data were not available. There is no formal mechanism to track prosecutions at the state and local levels.

The U.S. government continued efforts to train officials and enhanced its efforts to share information. For example, DOJ developed an online e-guide to provide guidance for effective taskforce operations and engaged in extensive capacity building for law enforcement, military personnel, social service providers, labor inspectors, pro bono attorneys, and others. DHS updated a web-based training course and produced training videos for law enforcement. Federal agencies continued a pilot project in 10 countries to increase the flow of information about human trafficking overseas with a nexus to the United States. FBI and ICE trained local partners on indicators of sex trafficking and led enforcement operations designed to enhance capabilities during and after the 2015 Super Bowl.

PROTECTION

The federal government increased its efforts to protect trafficking victims; however, the number of victims issued trafficking-specific immigration relief declined from the previous reporting period. The United States improved its delivery of a victim-centered, multidisciplinary response to victim identification and services, certified a significantly higher number of trafficking victims, provided services to more victims, and increased funding for these services. 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.

Federally-funded victim assistance includes case management and referrals for medical and dental care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, sustenance and shelter, translation and interpretation services, immigration and legal assistance, employment and training, transportation assistance, and other services such as criminal justice advocacy. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided comprehensive case management for foreign national and domestic trafficking victims and funded capacity-building grants for child welfare systems to respond to trafficking. DOJ provided comprehensive and specialized services for both domestic and foreign national trafficking victims. Federal funding for victim assistance generally increased in FY 2014. DHS provided victims identified during investigations with access to specialized services and support from victim assistance and forensic interview specialists throughout both the investigation and prosecution stages. DHS provided 446 victims of human trafficking with this assistance in FY 2014, an increase from 330 in FY 2013.

HHS issued 530 certification letters to foreign national adults and 219 eligibility letters to foreign national children in FY 2014, a significant increase from FY 2013, when HHS issued respectively 406 and 114. Certification enables adult victims to receive federal and state services when Continued Presence is granted or when a victim has a bona fide or approved application for “T nonimmigrant status,” as described further below. An eligibility letter allows immediate access to federally-funded benefits and services when credible information indicates the child may be a victim of trafficking. HHS awarded $7.4 million in FY 2014 to three NGOs for the provision of case management services to foreign national victims through a nationwide network of NGO sub-recipients, an increase from $4.5 million in FY 2013. Through these grants, HHS supported 153 NGO service providers across the country that provided assistance to a total of 1,137 individuals and their family members, an increase from 915 the prior year. NGOs reported that lack of training on the HHS certification process for employees of public benefits offices resulted in the erroneous denial of benefits for some victims and their families. In FY 2014, HHS provided new funding to serve domestic victims of human trafficking, including $1.44 million to provide coordinated victim-centered services and $2.25 million to address trafficking within child welfare systems.

During the reporting period, DOJ provided care to a greater number of trafficking victims, including more labor trafficking victims than last year. From July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, DOJ grantees providing victim services reported more than 2,782 open client cases, including 1,366 new victims, compared with 1,911 open client cases and 1,009 new victims in the previous year. DOJ’s grantees reported 55 percent of victims served during the reporting period were foreign nationals and 45 percent were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. During FY 2014, DOJ funded 28 victim service organizations across the United States, totaling approximately $10.9 million, compared with $11.2 million in FY 2013 and $5.4 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. An NGO reported that disparities remained between the levels of protection for sex and labor trafficking victims, including child labor trafficking victims. A federally-funded study on labor trafficking in the United States found some local law enforcement officials did not recognize indicators of labor trafficking and some labor trafficking victims went months or years after their escape before being connected with service providers. NGOs continued to report federal funding for victim services remained insufficient to address the myriad needs of individual victims. Shelter and housing for all trafficking victims, especially male and labor trafficking victims, continued to be insufficient, and in some cases resulted in victims returning to unsafe situations. The federal government significantly increased funding for victims of human trafficking by appropriating more than $42 million in funding to DOJ and more than $15 million in funding to HHS for FY 2015. NGOs also reported authorities sometimes placed children in restrictive residential placements, creating a situation that mimics the victims’ circumstances living under their trafficker’s control.

Some NGOs reported concerns about the federal government’s effectiveness in screening unaccompanied migrant children who came to the attention of federal authorities. The TVPA outlines the procedures that apply to unaccompanied children from contiguous countries who are apprehended at a land border or port of entry. Such children must be screened to ensure they are not victims of and are not at risk of trafficking, that they do not fear persecution, and that they are able to make an independent decision whether to withdraw their applications for admission to the United States. If they meet all these requirements, they may be permitted to withdraw their applications for admission and return to their country of origin. If not, these children must be treated in the same way as unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries, who must be transferred to HHS within 72 hours of determining the child is unaccompanied. When children are placed in the care and custody of HHS, they are screened 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. HHS assisted 113 child victims of trafficking through its Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program in 2014, which requires states to provide the same assistance, care, and services available to foster children.

The United States supported foreign national and U.S. citizen victims by using victim assistance coordinators in law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices during trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and by providing foreign nationals immigration protection. DHS provides trafficking-specific immigration relief to 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 be in the United States on account of trafficking and 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; T visa beneficiaries and their derivative family members are authorized to work and are eligible for certain 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 lawful permanent resident status and eventually may be eligible for citizenship.

In FY 2014, DHS issued Continued Presence to 130 trafficking victims who were potential witnesses, a continued decrease from 171 in FY 2013 and 199 in FY 2012. DHS granted T nonimmigrant status to 613 victims and 788 eligible family members of victims in 2014, representing a decrease from 848 and 975, respectively, from the two previous periods. Scheduled updates to T visa implementing regulations were not released. NGOs reported ongoing concerns about the low numbers of Continued Presence issued to trafficking victims and the difficulty some labor trafficking victims faced in obtaining Continued Presence. In April 2015, DOL began implementing a new policy of certifying applications for T visas, which NGOs noted will provide more opportunities to provide victims with needed support. NGO reports also stated that in some cases immigration enforcement by state and local law enforcement officers negatively affected immigrant victims’ willingness to approach local authorities for help.

Another immigration benefit available to trafficking victims is the “U nonimmigrant status” (commonly referred to as the U visa) for victims of certain qualifying crimes who are helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity. There is a 10,000 statutory maximum for the U visa each fiscal year. In FY 2014, there were 17 approved principal applicants where trafficking was the qualifying crime. In 2015, DOL also expanded its U visa program to consider certification requests for three additional qualifying crimes: forced labor, fraud in foreign labor contracting, and extortion. However, NGOs reported trafficking victims continued to face difficulties obtaining U visas, citing increased processing periods in some cases and overall demand that exceeded the annual statutory cap. DHS reported decreased application processing times for both T and U visas in FY 2014.

In 2014, a DOS program reunified 327 family members with identified victims of trafficking in the United States, an increase from 240 in FY 2013, and 209 in FY 2012. This program provided five survivors with assistance returning to their home countries. DOS provided $724,893 in FY 2014 to support this program.

Multiple agencies across the federal government continued to provide training to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, as well as to NGO service providers and health and human service providers to encourage more consistent application of a victim-centered approach in all phases of victim identification, assistance, recovery, and participation in the criminal justice process.

Although federal, state, and local grant programs existed for vulnerable children and at-risk youth, child trafficking victims, especially boys and transgender youth, faced difficulties obtaining needed services. During the reporting period, HHS maintained level funding to train service providers for runaway and homeless youth and continued to provide 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. An NGO noted reports of gang-controlled child sex trafficking and of the growing use of social media by traffickers to recruit and control victims. NGOs continued to express concern that federal and state efforts to prevent and respond to child labor trafficking allegations were inadequate.

Some trafficking victims, including those under 18 years of age, were detained or prosecuted for conduct committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. NGOs reported many state and local authorities failed to treat sex-trafficked children as victims of trafficking by arresting and incarcerating them, including in states with “safe harbor” laws designed to protect them from such criminalization. Further, NGOs reported state and local law enforcement continued to arrest some identified trafficking victims in order to ensure they would have access to services through detention, and, in some cases, to obtain testimony against their trafficker. To address these challenges, HHS facilitated training with advocates, attorneys, and service providers across the United States to increase identification of child trafficking victims.

PREVENTION

The U.S. government made progress on efforts to prevent trafficking. The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons reported on agency accomplishments in combating human trafficking. Federal agencies provided opportunities for stakeholder input and transparency, including by convening a White House forum with private sector leaders and NGOs on combating human trafficking in supply chains, and incorporating survivor consultants in government training courses and outreach campaigns. The government continued to implement the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013 – 2017.

The government continued public outreach measures about the causes and consequences of human trafficking. HHS continued to fund an NGO to operate the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and hotline that received more than 21,000 calls in 2014 from across the United States. At the state level, 25 states required or encouraged a trafficking hotline number to be posted or promoted. U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide provided a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet that included the national hotline number and confirmed that applicants for temporary work and exchange visitor visas received, read, and understood the pamphlet, an effort that subsequently generated 791 calls to the national hotline. Some embassies and consulates also began to play in consular waiting rooms a new “Know Your Rights” video, available in 13 languages. One federally-funded report found more training was needed for consular officers in detecting trafficking. The Department of Transportation and DHS created a human trafficking awareness campaign for the motor coach industry that incorporated stakeholder input. In 2015, DHS continued its nationwide human trafficking public awareness Blue Campaign and trained both U.S. and international law enforcement. HHS created a new “End Trafficking” website and conducted outreach to new communities, including tribal leaders. The Department of Education completed an online guide to help school communities identify potential victims, take the appropriate steps to protect students, and work with law enforcement partners. The U.S. Agency for International Development funded anti-trafficking activities in more than 15 countries. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted more than 250 anti-trafficking outreach events, including media interviews, trainings, and presentations to underserved populations. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) in partnership with DHS launched human trafficking awareness training available to more than 100,000 USDA employees in all 50 states and abroad. DoD provided annual anti-trafficking training for all DoD personnel, civilian and military, including troops prior to their deployment abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions. The government also continued to conduct a number of awareness activities for its personnel, including general awareness trainings, trainings specific to law enforcement and acquisition professionals, and increased efforts to train staff in field offices. NGOs noted prevention efforts should better emphasize victims’ rights and protections under federal law and should seek survivor input to better reach potential victims.

There were reports of abuses, including allegations of human trafficking, of workers in the United States on work-based or other nonimmigrant visas. In a March 2015 report, the Government Accountability Office recommended increased protections for foreign workers. NGOs reported the United States had insufficient laws regulating foreign labor recruiters and fraud was rampant among these recruiters. To reduce the vulnerability of migrant workers, NGOs called for the passage of a federal law that, in addition to prohibiting recruiters from charging fees to workers, would mandate recruiters disclose the terms of employment, register recruiters with the government, and subject recruiters to penalties for violating these protections. During the reporting period, DOL and DHS took steps to strengthen worker protections with respect to wages, working conditions, transparency around the identity of foreign labor recruiters, and benefits and remedies, including protection from retaliation, that must be offered to H-2B (temporary non-agricultural workers) and U.S. workers performing similar jobs. Both the H-2A (temporary agricultural workers) and H-2B programs prohibit directly or indirectly charging foreign workers job placement, recruitment, or other fees related to employment, and both require disclosure of the terms of employment.

In the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program, DOS prohibited jobs deemed dangerous to exchange visitor health, safety, and welfare, and continued to implement a program to monitor participant health, safety, and welfare. In summer 2014, DOS visited 676 exchange visitor sites in 33 states and, by early 2015, DOS had conducted 54 site visits in six states.

The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel, aimed at preventing their engagement in or facilitation of trafficking crimes. DOS provided both classroom and web-based training for diplomatic security personnel, consular officers, and other employees. The government continued efforts to prevent forced labor of domestic workers employed by foreign mission personnel (or by foreign employees of international organizations) in the United States, including by prohibiting deductions from wages for food and lodging and requiring non-cash wage payments directly to the worker. In 2014, DOS briefed foreign embassy Deputy Chiefs of Mission reiterating U.S. requirements and the foreign missions’ responsibility for the welfare of these workers. Despite these efforts, NGOs raised concerns that foreign diplomats could evade current protection measures in place for foreign domestic workers and recommended the government take additional steps to protect domestic workers employed by foreign diplomats.

Civil enforcement of federal laws was a significant component of the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. DOL targeted industries employing vulnerable workers, and its field investigators were sometimes the first government authorities to detect exploitative labor practices. EEOC, which enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other employment discrimination statutes, continued to litigate three cases involving human trafficking on behalf of over one thousand claimants.

Federal law allows for a trafficked person to independently file a civil cause of action. In 2015, a federal jury awarded $14 million in damages to five Indian guest workers victimized in a labor trafficking scheme in Mississippi who filed civil claims. This amount was the largest ever awarded by a jury in a labor trafficking case in the United States. NGOs noted the importance of state law provisions, such as California’s civil code, that allow for claims to be filed on behalf of trafficking victims.

U.S. laws provide extraterritorial jurisdiction over child sex tourism offenses perpetrated overseas by U.S. citizens. FBI made six criminal arrests resulting in six indictments and two individuals were convicted in child sex tourism cases in FY 2014. DHS took proactive steps to prevent child sex tourism in 2014 and shared information with foreign law enforcement counterparts about registered child sex offenders prior to their travel abroad (from the United States). DHS made more than 45 child sex tourism related arrests in FY 2014.

The U.S. government undertook efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex and forced labor in the reporting period. DHS worked with city and state partners to raise awareness of trafficking in advance of the 2015 Super Bowl. DoD issued a new policy prohibiting U.S. military personnel in South Korea from paying for companionship of employees of so-called “juicy bars” because of the bars’ links with prostitution and sex trafficking. DoD investigated 39 cases of service members allegedly violating DoD’s prohibition relating to the procurement of commercial sex, up from 27 such investigations the previous year.

The government amended the Federal Acquisition Regulation in 2015 to strengthen protections against trafficking in federal contracts, including by prohibiting contractors and those in their supply chain from charging employees recruitment fees, using recruiters that do not comply with local labor laws of the country where the recruiting takes place, or using misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices. FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies investigated allegations of debt bondage and excessive recruitment fees that were required of third-country nationals working on certain U.S. government contracts abroad. 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.

DOL updated the list of goods it has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards to add alcoholic beverages and meat. DOL translated into three languages its web-based toolkit providing guidance to businesses and other stakeholders to address child labor and forced labor in global supply chains.

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. In FY 2014, DOI continued outreach to numerous federal, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies to determine how human trafficking affects tribal communities and to identify promising practices and needed services for victims. HHS continued to host community listening sessions with tribal leaders, integrated human trafficking as part of its tribal consultation activities, and issued an information memorandum on human trafficking to all 183 Administration for Native American grantees from across the nation and Pacific territories. HHS funded an NGO providing education and work force development for young American Indian men at high risk for commercial sexual exploitation and piloted training for health care providers serving potential victims of human trafficking in the Bakken area of North Dakota. Challenges include a lack of a criminal justice infrastructure adequate to the needs of Indian country and a scarcity of social services for victims.

U.S. INSULAR AREAS

All forms of trafficking are believed to occur in the U.S. insular areas. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, during the reporting period, a child sex trafficker was convicted and sentenced to more than 24 years’ imprisonment. The Puerto Rico Police Department and DHS investigated this case, and DOJ prosecuted it in federal court. 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. In the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), an anti-trafficking bill introduced in a previous session was not enacted. In 2014, HHS funded anti-trafficking training in Puerto Rico and USVI. In Guam, there was a Human Trafficking Task Force consisting of four committees: Outreach and Research, Intervention, Law Enforcement, and Victim Services. There was also a DOJ-led taskforce in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). There were no known human trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or victim identifications in American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, or USVI during the reporting period.