MS TRUMP: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m honored to welcome you to the annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. On behalf of the President, we thank you for your incredible leadership and commitment to ending modern slavery.
Over the past two and a half years, this administration has brought the full force and weight of the government to stopping the evil that is human trafficking. We have worked with bipartisan members of Congress – can you believe that? – to enact legislation to advance and further this goal. Last winter, as just one example, the President signed four major pieces of legislation into law.
The agencies and leaders here today are all working tirelessly to confront these heinous crimes, both here at home and abroad. This afternoon, we look forward to hearing updates on historic progress your agencies and departments have made to identify, arrest, and stop these vicious criminals and also to support the courageous survivors.
We are grateful to be joined today by the members of the Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, all of whom are survivors. Can you please stand up? (Applause.) Really, really incredible work you do.
I had the great privilege of meeting you over the past several years and then again just a little bit earlier this afternoon. Really, to each of you, your courage inspires us, and we fight every single day so that not a single person has to experience what you have overcome. Thank you.
To further advance our efforts on this critical issue, today we are announcing the members of a new public-private advisory council partnership to end human trafficking, the first of its kind. This new partnership will provide our task force with recommendations and the use of the most proven methods in the private sector and civil society to combat this evil scourge.
Every day of our administration we fight to liberate victims from modern slavery, to protect the most vulnerable, and to enable each person to live in dignity, peace, and freedom.
It is now my privilege to introduce a leader who has directed the U.S. government efforts to combat human trafficking with tremendous dedication and vigor. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your unwavering leadership. And please join me in welcoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Ivanka. Thanks for the kind words. She and I just got back from Kansas. It was quite a treat.
It’s my honor to welcome this year’s recipients of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The first recipient we have today is Kendis Paris. As executive director and cofounder of Truckers Against Trafficking, Ms. Paris works to educate, equip, and empower and mobilize the trucking industry to recognize and combat human trafficking. Her dedication has contributed to innovative partnerships with industry, state agencies, and law enforcement, leading to increased arrests and prosecutions of traffickers – outstanding work. Ms. Paris, congratulations. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR RICHMOND: This award is presented for her trailblazing leadership of Truckers Against Trafficking and her sustained efforts to transform the nation’s transportation sector by catalyzing professionals in the trucking and bussing industries to combat human trafficking. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Our next honoree is the Responsible Business Alliance, a coalition of businesses dedicated to preventing human trafficking in global supply chains. The Responsible Business Alliance now comprises more than 380 members with a combined annual revenue of 7.7 trillion that together employ 21 million people.
Today, we have the Responsible Business Alliance’s leadership with us: Rob Lederer, Bob Mitchell, and Carlos Busquets. Gentlemen, please come forward and congratulations to each of you and thank you for your good work. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR RICHMOND: The Responsible Business Alliance is being honored for its innovative work and leadership with the global business community to push an industry-wide change to enhance worker protections, transform the market for ethical recruitment practices, and promote strong management systems to prevent human trafficking and trafficking risks in global supply chains. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s an honor to do this now for the – thank you – for the second time. This is the second1 meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
As everyone who’s joining us here today knows, President Trump has made ending human trafficking a priority of this administration and his leadership has been outstanding. No other president in history has gone to such great lengths to empower the entire federal government – you see us all here today – to tackle this crime with full force.
Last year, in a sign of his commitment, he became the first president ever to attend this meeting. And today, I’d like to thank Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump for being here and for your personal tireless advocacy on this important issue. Thank you. (Applause.)
I’d also like to thank the representatives from the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking who have joined us. Each of them are personally profiles in courage and leadership.
You’ve chosen to transform your experiences with human trafficking into advocacy – advocacy to bring about a world in which, one day, no one has to suffer in the way that you have.
I know that I speak for all of us when I say we deeply value your recommendations and look forward to hearing an update from you soon.
Together, all of us in this administration are committed to ending human trafficking for its estimated 25 million victims.
The reason we do so is, of course, self-evident. The U.S. founders told us as much when they wrote, that, quote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among [those] are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
As Americans, these rights also come with a duty, with a responsibility: to defend those rights when they are threatened.
Nowhere is that more clear than in the crime of human trafficking, which takes place not just in distant corners of the world, but here in our own backyard.
And as we redouble our own efforts to combat this crime, we call on other countries to join us.
I look forward to continued interagency collaboration to pursue an end to this brutality, together with our partners in civil society, the private sector, and of course the survivors themselves.
It’s now a pleasure to hand it over to Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons John Richmond, who has helped not only lead out efforts at the State Department, but the interagency effort as well. He’ll brief us today on the Senior Policy Operating Group’s work. John.
AMBASSADOR RICHMOND: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo. It’s an honor to get to be here today alongside so many of our partners in this global fight for freedom. Our federal efforts are most effective when they’re focused on impact. And each agency here has been working hard to ensure the efforts that we are undertaking are effective and incorporate insight from survivors and other stakeholders.
I’d like to share just a few updates from the Senior Policy Operating Group and the collective accomplishments over the past year.
We have established procedures to up our game when it comes to federal procurement. Procurement and human trafficking experts from each agency have worked closely to better implement federal procurement rules that prevent human trafficking. The U.S. government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, and it can use its buying power to apply pressure to companies to prevent forced labor in their supply chain.
We’ve also developed guidance for agencies to improve their public awareness materials with input from survivors. Our messaging will be more victim-centered, more trauma-informed, and our statistics will be standardized and our images will be appropriate.
On a personal note, I’m grateful for all the colleagues’ work to support our efforts to assess U.S. government efforts to combat trafficking in persons in the Trafficking in Persons Report that comes out each summer. The report highlights where the United States is doing well and it includes 14 recommendations for further improvement. This analysis is meaningful and it strengthens the State Department’s bilateral diplomacy with other countries as we encourage them to improve as well.
In this work survivors play an essential role. Through our partnership with the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, we work hard to ensure that federal agencies are infused with survivor input. And I’d like to thank the Council personally for volunteering its time in this effort.
Across this task force our commitment shines through as the U.S. government is committed to a comprehensive approach to stop this crime, using the three-P framework of prosecution, protection, and prevention, that we can work together to prevent this crime by dismantling the systems that make it easier for traffickers to operate.
Looking ahead to 2020, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, I look forward to continuing this fight for freedom and human dignity. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, John.
I’d like now to invite a very special guest, Ronny Marty, to speak.
Like other members of the Advisory Council, Ronny knows about trafficking because he survived it himself.
Now – as an independent consultant, advocate, and public speaker – he is dedicating his life to preventing others from suffering in the way that he did.
Ronny, you have the floor.
MR MARTY: Thank you, and good afternoon, all. As you said, my name is Ronny Marty. I’m a survivor of labor trafficking, a survivor leader, and also a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. It is a great pleasure, a great honor, to be here today and speak on behalf of the Advisory Council.
This is my second term on the Council, and I’m so happy to see all the progress made to enhance communication, connection, and the collaboration between survivors and federal government agencies.
When I first started advocating for victims and survivors of human trafficking, it was something completely new to me. It was really tough and uncertain. But at the same time, it was encouraging, because it helped me to actually face challenges with passion and determination to protect and defend victims and survivors of human trafficking.
Now, to see how well we communicate each other, we work together – it’s just amazing. We appreciate and thank this administration for giving us the opportunity really to raise survivor voices to be heard.
I remember, when I just reflect on the past, victims and survivors, the fear they felt to speak up and approach any government agency, because it wasn’t clear the way they would be treated. But now the connection and the amazing work we’re working together, it’s just great.
On May 8, we had the privilege – and it was a great privilege – to release our 2015 – 2019 annual report. And this report is actually – it was possible thanks in part of the collaborations of the federal agencies who made the time to meet with us and answer our questions. We know there is still a lot of work to do, so we believe, if we work together, we can make those really things happen.
This year we also had the opportunity to visit to a state on our regional trips. We went to Colorado and Ohio. And we could witness – it’s not that somebody tell us – we could witness the willingness of government agencies, communities, and NGOs to work together with survivors to eradicate human trafficking.
We believe if we continue really working together and understanding that survivor voices count, we can make this happen.
So thank you so much, and God bless you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: At this time, I want to talk about a couple of State Department initiatives, and then we’ll give every agency a chance to talk about their commitments and their future initiatives.
Over the past year, the State Department’s continued our expansion of the Domestic Worker In-person Registration Program.
We’re pretty proud of it. It protects foreign domestic workers living in the United States that are employed by foreign diplomats and international organizational personnel.
This year, we expanded the program’s coverage to the New York area and to Houston, Texas.
The program ensures that all domestic workers receive briefings from the Department – without their employers present – about their rights, responsibilities, and avenues to seek redress or assistance if needed.
Looking ahead to 2020, we’ll also expand to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and will cover domestic workers employed by United Nations personnel as well.
I want to spend just a minute talking about the Human Trafficking Expert Consultant Network.
This Network allows us to incorporate survivor input into our anti-trafficking work – and to pay them for their expertise, the same way consultants are paid in the private sector.
In the coming year, we’ll develop a toolkit to ensure that every U.S. embassy and consulate understands the best way to engage potential victims and survivors, such as during consular interviews and shelter visits.
Next, I’d like to update the progress we’ve made on the Program to End Modern Slavery. Congress created this program to measurably reduce the prevalence of human trafficking in targeted populations within specific regions worldwide.
Today, I’m announcing the Department’s third investment of $25 million in this grant program, bringing the total investment to $75 million and making it our largest anti-trafficking program.
And finally, I want to highlight the opportunity we all have in the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Anniversaries provide the unique opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the past and improve our efforts moving forward.
In addition to issuing the 20th Trafficking in Persons Report next year, the State Department is developing a publication to highlight the U.S. government’s anti-trafficking efforts over the past two decades and to bring focus to our ongoing efforts.
And with that, I’d like to invite each of you to take a couple or three minutes to update us on your agency’s latest efforts. If I might begin with the Secretary of the Interior. David.
SECRETARY BERNHARDT: Good afternoon. I’m honored to be here today to discuss the Department of the Interior’s and the President’s efforts to combat human trafficking, both through Interior’s law enforcement apparatus and through our federal, state, and local and tribal partnerships.
I’m joined today by Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney, who has worked diligently on this issue for the benefit of American Indian and Alaskan Native communities.
Today, I’d like to highlight victims assistance programs and training awareness efforts at the department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement and the National Park Service. Those two entities comprise a large representative effort of Interior’s efforts.
As many of you know, the department oversees the majority of this nation’s public lands, and we are entrusted with working diligently with the Indian tribes on their lands. The millions of acres of land that we manage in many instances are very sparsely populated, which means our law enforcement officers often find themselves alone on the land.
And the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services is a leader in working on combating human trafficking through its victims assistance program. The bureau this year provided trainings on human trafficking across Indian country to over – of various law enforcement officers, all in an effort to increase public awareness and help attendees learn to detect and respond to trafficking issues in Indian country.
This work is pursued in conjunction with Interior’s law enforcement efforts, and we’ve developed specific training programs for the interdiction to protect children training, Victims Right and Services, train-the-trainer program are just a couple of examples of planning and training that we have ongoing.
And finally, over the last two years, the National Park Service has begun to lead a number of trainings, including Spotlight on Human Trafficking annual law enforcement refresher training process, and we’ve trained folks in over 71 different parks this year.
Through all these efforts, the department is working to combat human trafficking across the country in Indian and Alaskan Native communities throughout the park system and across Interior-managed lands.
I’ve appreciated the opportunity to share with you the work that we’re doing, and I look forward to working together to advance the President’s priorities for a safer America.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Secretary of Labor.
SECRETARY SCALIA: Thank you, Mike. Human trafficking issues were among the most disturbing, most moving, and potentially the most rewarding that I encountered during my service at the Labor Department 15 years ago, and it’s an honor to be able to join all of you in this group in addressing them now.
In the words of the Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, trafficking and forced labor, quote, “[distort] global markets, [undermine] the rule of law, [strengthen] transnational…criminal networks, and [threaten] national security [everywhere],” end quote. Each of these is a reason that warrants our combined efforts.
I wanted to talk about things we’ve been doing at the Labor Department in this past year and then look to the year ahead.
In the past year, we’ve been focused on our temporary worker visa programs. The H-2A, the H-2B programs are important opportunities for American employers that are unable to find sufficient American workers. They’re important opportunities for them to bring workers in temporarily from other nations. However, workers participating in these programs sometimes are subject to predation and abuse by recruiters in their home countries.
This last year, in part to address that, we entered memoranda of agreements with two countries – with Honduras and Guatemala – which provide for certification of these home country recruiters and which vet them in order to reduce their capacity to engage in human trafficking or to charge the kinds of excessive fees that they’ve charged in the past as one mechanism, one point of leverage to draw people in to trafficking. These agreements we believe are a model for what might be done in the future.
Looking forward, as many of you know, the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs works each year to update and develop tools to address child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking. And the head of ILAB, Martha Newton, is with us here today. Martha, thank you.
This year, as a result of legislation signed by President Trump last year – this year, as a result of that legislation the President signed, we’re going to be digging deeper into the supply chain for goods that are brought into this country. We will have better insight to whether goods were not just made in full but even made in part with forced labor or child labor.
And this could include goods, by the way, affected by the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement. That agreement, as I think everybody here knows, has the most protective forced labor provisions of any trade agreement ever entered by the United States. There are many powerful reasons for enactment of the USMCA, and ending forced labor is one of them.
Increased visibility into supply chains enables us to better enforce this nation’s trade agreements, to better ensure that American workers are competing on a level playing field, and better equips all of us to take action against forced labor and human trafficking.
The Department of Labor is eager to continue to work with all of you in that, and I think all of us who care deeply about this issue are fortunate to have a President and a White House which are so visibly and obviously dedicated to addressing this issue. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Next, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Alex.
SECRETARY AZAR: Great. Thank you. At HHS, the core of our anti-trafficking mission is to identify victims, to support survivors, and to build local capacity to prevent and respond to human trafficking. These efforts are led by Lynn Johnson, who is our Assistant Secretary for Children and Families.
With increased awareness of human trafficking across the country, more cases are being identified and more victims are reaching out for help. Last year the HHS-funded National Human Trafficking Hotline – which hopefully you see the posters all around the country, especially in airports and other transit sites – identified 10,658 potential human trafficking cases connected directly with 7,136 survivors of trafficking, and it made 9,635 referrals to local services. Our grantees provided case management services to 2,429 survivors of human trafficking last year, a 40 percent increase from the previous year.
In this upcoming year, we will be working to strengthen connections between HHS-supported health centers and local community-based service sites. We’re also going to be streamlining data collection to reduce burden on our grantees and our partners while leveraging the data that we collect to improve our programs.
We also will continue to build the capacity of local communities to respond to human trafficking. Last year HHS trained 5,078 health and social service providers through our accredited SOAR training. This upcoming year, we will expand access to SOAR training to more than one million healthcare providers. That’s so that healthcare workers will know to ask questions and identify potential victims of trafficking.
At the state level, the National Advisory Committee on Preventing Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth will release a full report of recommendations and work with state governors and child welfare leaders to implement them.
And next year, the Administration for Children and Families will release a national human trafficking prevention action plan for working with local entities, with a special focus on education in schools and youth-serving programs.
As we near the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, we will continue our work to prevent human trafficking before it occurs and ensure that the victims and their families get the support that they need. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Next, the Department of Education, please.
MR BROGAN: Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Secretary and ladies and gentlemen.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Frank.
MR BROGAN: It’s good to be with you today. And I can tell you on behalf of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education remains completely committed to this most vital issue.
Before I talk a little bit about what we are doing, I want to re-acknowledge the work of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. We had occasion to have these wonderful people visit us in the Department of Education several months ago and provide about a two-hour experience with members of our staff, and through their kindness, hear their stories, hear their passion, hear their commitment.
And I must tell you, I’ve been in and around education for 40 years and know that human trafficking has been around a lot longer than all of us, but I don’t believe in my 40 years I’ve ever seen an emphasis placed on the issue nationwide as we are seeing today. That’s a tribute to the President of the United States. It’s a tribute to people like the members of the Advisory Council, and to all of them and so many others. It is time this issue came out of the dark, came out of the shadows, and gave us the opportunity to take it on head long and fight it fairly.
In October of last year, Ed hosted a policy briefing with HHS to promote awareness of child trafficking, discuss what’s being done to prevent it, and address the important role of educators and parents. Ed’s guide inspired Fay Chelmow to found imPACT, People Against Child Trafficking in American schools right next door to us in Virginia, which hosted a youth safety summit in April 2018.
Ed continues to raise awareness about human trafficking by informing school communities about the problem, providing technical assistance to its technical assistance centers, encouraging schools to embed the issue in emergency operations and management planning, and working with other federal, state, and local agencies to develop and disseminate resource material such as Human Trafficking in America’s Schools. Ed also hosts webinars, uses social media, and presents at national conferences.
HHS, again, and the U.S. Department of Education partner with The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States and President Lincoln’s Cottage to develop an advocacy toolkit that encourages young people to raise awareness about human trafficking through student voices, activism, and advocacy. The goals of the partnership are to increase youth engagement and prevention and end human trafficking, and raise public awareness about the issues surrounding human trafficking.
I could go on. I won’t, but I simply want to live you where I started. Our department remains very committed to working with all of the federal agencies and the White House engaged in this most important work. And as educators, we’re committed to working directly with schoolhouses all over America to make certain that our young people understand the problems associated and can work with us to continue to make sure that, in a generational way, we can continue to combat this issue for as long as it takes to finally defeat it.
Thank you for the chance to be with you. And thank you, again, Mr. Secretary. Ivanka, thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.
Next, the Department of Treasury.
MR MUZINICH: Mr. Secretary, following President Trump’s signing of the EO on preventing international trafficking, Treasury has been using this new authority and all of its other tools to dismantle organizations profiting from the exploitation of human life.
For example, in August of this year, our Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the Peralta drug trafficking organization, which trafficked cocaine and other drugs into the United States and Europe and ran nightclubs that employed women trafficked from Colombia and Venezuela.
Domestically, our IRS Office of Criminal Investigation routinely partners with DOJ, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to investigate cases involving labor trafficking, sex trafficking, and human smuggling.
Our Financial Crimes Enforcement Network recently updated the suspicious activity forms for financial institutions to more easily identify suspicious financial activity involving human trafficking.
Internationally, we are partnering bilaterally and multilaterally to combat trafficking. In May, Treasury launched a bilateral anticorruption initiative with Mexico, targeting four priorities, including human trafficking.
Following President Trump’s signing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, we have worked to ensure that all multilateral development bank projects have anti-human-trafficking safeguards in their procurement and execution processes.
Finally, in our recent presidency of the Financial Action Task Force, FATF updated international standards to require the regulation and supervision of virtual currency businesses to lessen their misuse by illicit actors, including human traffickers. Over 200 countries have committed to apply the FATF standards.
Collectively, our actions and authorities send criminals the clear message that if they engage in these horrible acts, they face criminal liability and financial ruin. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.
And now may we hear from the Department of Defense, please.
MR STEWART: Yes, sir. Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary, Ivanka. I’m filling in today for Secretary Esper, your West Point classmate, sir. My name is Jimmy Stewart. I’m performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.
This is an areas that we’re really concerned about in the area of personnel and readiness. Prevention is what we wanted to talk about from the Department of Defense, and basically we wanted to talk about awareness training and the outreach piece.
In the area of training, we’re creating a training module on gross violations of human rights within the combating trafficking in persons general awareness, investigative professionals, acquisition professionals, and leadership training courses that we offer in the Department of Defense. The training module emphasizes that gross violations of human rights, including child sexual assault, will not be tolerated. It will be establishing special instructions on how to report a suspected gross violation of human rights incident.
And at the Pentagon on January the 9th of 2020, for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we’ll have a speaker from the U.S. Southern Command, who’ll come to speak to us about the human rights and in particular discuss connection between gross violations of human rights and the trafficking in persons.
In the area of outreach, we’re developing a combating trafficking in persons training for students who attend our Department of Defense Education Activity schools. We have 163 Department of Defense schools, and the Department of Defense Education Activity is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and managing pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behalf of the Department of Defense.
There are almost 1 million military-connected children of all ages worldwide, of which more than 70,000 are enrolled in our Department of Defense Education Activity schools, taught by approximately 7,800 educators. The Combating Trafficking in Persons Program Management Office is working with our Defense Education Activity personnel to educate students about human trafficking indicators, how to recognize a trafficking in persons incident, and more importantly, how to report these suspected incidents.
This will be a first human trafficking model for students, I believe, issued by the U.S. government. Our Defense Education Activity will make the training available to our parents as well.
So we look forward to the continued work with the President’s Interagency Task Force. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, James.
Now may we hear from the Department of Homeland Security, please.
MR WOLF: Good afternoon. I’d like to thank Secretary Pompeo for your leadership in this area.
It’s an honor to represent the Department of Homeland Security’s many professionals who work day in and day out to combat human trafficking. DHS plays a significant role in supporting this task force, and our professionals throughout the United States and across the globe are integral to the success of this national endeavor.
From law enforcement officers who identify and assist victims who are trafficked across our borders to forward deploying investigators working to dismantle transnational criminal organizations overseas, we are committed to ending human trafficking.
It’s difficult to detail the countless ways the department supports the work of this task force in only a few minutes, but I did want to highlight a few.
In two thousand – in FY 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiated over 800 investigations involving human trafficking, also arrested nearly 1,600 criminals, supported over 500 convictions, while assisting over 300 trafficking victims.
Our U.S. and Citizenship and Immigration Services granted benefits to over 500 victims and over 700 qualifying family members.
And we continue to work with our Customs and Border Protection, our federal law enforcement training center, who trains federal law enforcement officers on indicators of human trafficking, as well as conducting a number of public outreach campaigns, such as the Blue Campaign, the iGuardian Campaign, and Secret Service’s Childhood SMART Program.
As I look – as we look at 2018, the department accomplished a number of tasks that we talked about last year. The first is the department will be releasing a forthcoming department-wide strategy to combat human trafficking, the importation of goods produced with forced labor, as well as child sexual exploitation. This will be the department’s first strategy dedicated to this issue and articulating the department’s priorities, resources, and authorities over the next five years.
DHS has also improved our investigative efforts to combat the livestreaming of abuse associated with child sex trafficking, and we’re working closely with industry partners to explore technical solutions and practices to prevent the illicit use of the internet.
And lastly, I would say that DHS has worked – continues to work to strengthen customs enforcement and encouraging stakeholders in the trade community to closely examine their supply chains to ensure goods imported in the U.S. are not produced through forced labor.
As we look ahead to 2019, a couple of initiatives I wanted to highlight begin with a – DHS will undertake its first ever department-wide strategic threat assessment on human trafficking that incorporates information from across DHS’s diverse law enforcement mission.
Second, it will also strengthen safeguards and assistance for victims of human trafficking and enhance our outreach with law enforcement partners to increase awareness of DHS tools that support the protection of victim witnesses.
With that, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak here, the work of the task force, as well as the Advisory Council.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great, Chad, thank you.
And now, Office of Management and Budget, please.
MS WEICHERT: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo and Ivanka Trump, for your leadership on this topic. It’s an honor to be here on behalf of the Office of Management and Budget to talk about efforts that we are taking to monitor and combat trafficking in persons.
The President’s management agenda lays out a long-term vision for modernizing the federal government around three core pillars: mission, service, and stewardship. And for many years, we have recognized that strong anti-trafficking safeguards promote effective stewardship by increasing stability and productivity throughout the government’s supply chain.
The President and this administration have shown unprecedented leadership in operationalizing these efforts in a way that optimizes desired outcomes while also minimizing compliance burden. OMB is proud to support and encourage agency efforts across the U.S. government to combat trafficking at home and abroad. By focusing resources on effective and efficient programs, OMB works to ensure that programs achieve their stated goal, to prevent and respond to human trafficking.
OMB’s focus in recent years has helped agencies fight trafficking in federal procurement, even when trafficking is difficult to combat because it appears far down in the supply chain or in remote areas where enforcement is challenging.
As the largest single purchaser in the world, the U.S. government has made important progress in the past year on key public-private partnerships and government-to-government initiatives to help agencies and contractors address these hurdles head-on.
OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, along with colleagues from State and the Department of Labor, worked with nongovernmental organizations and responsible sourcing experts to identify best practices to help contractors more effectively meet their responsibilities. Specific practices include contractor and subcontractor codes of conduct, supplier reporting mechanisms for high-risk sites, and promotion of direct hiring practices and use of licensed recruiters.
Last week, I signed guidance that asks agency trafficking program offices and contracting offices to work together to identify areas of elevated risk of trafficking so they can apply best practices where they are likely to have the greatest impact. Many of these same stakeholders provided critical input as we finalized a long-sought definition of the term “recruitment fee” earlier this year so contractors and the recruiters are clear on which practices are prohibited.
We also increased work with the international community – including the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – to harmonize efforts and provide expertise and assistance for countries developing internal protections against human trafficking in government contracts.
OMB looks forward to our continued partnership with the President’s Interagency Task Force and working together with our contractors to combat human trafficking. Thanks so much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much.
Next, the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
AMBASSADOR MAHONEY: Thank you. On behalf of Ambassador Lighthizer and USTR, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation, Mr. Secretary, for the work that you and Ivanka and other members of the task force have done, and your incredible leadership and steadfast efforts to combat human trafficking and forced labor.
At USTR, we are committed to ensuring that U.S. trade policy reinforces these efforts. As Secretary Scalia noted, the USMCA contains by far the strongest labor standards ever included in the U.S. trade agreement, and this includes an absolute prohibition on the importation of goods produced in whole or in part by forced labor.
We also introduced new provisions in the USMCA calling for greater cooperation on the identification and movement of goods produced by forced labor.
We have instituted a new process to ensure that all countries receiving unilateral trade preferences from the United States under the Generalized System of Preferences meet all eligibility criteria established by Congress, including on worker rights and forced labor. This new approach has led to improvements in these areas for a number of countries around the world, as well as new enforcement actions.
USTR announced just last week that the President has ordered partial suspension of GSP benefits for Thailand due to the lack of government efforts to afford workers internationally recognized rights, including with regard to forced labor.
In addition, we continue to work with Uzbekistan through the context of their GSP review to address longstanding problems with forced and child labor in the cotton sector in that country.
We have continued to engage foreign governments to combat human trafficking and forced labor through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. As of January 1, 2019, the President terminated Mauritania’s trade preference benefits under AGOA owing to forced labor practices and in particular hereditary slavery.
Of course, the effort to combat human trafficking is a government-wide challenge that requires a unified front. USTR will continue to use our trade tools, and we look forward to coordinating closely with other agencies to achieve that objective.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.
Now, the United States Agency for International Development. Mark.
MR GREEN: Great. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thanks to you, Ms. Trump, for your leadership, and for this opportunity.
So in addition to the obvious moral implications, trafficking undermines rule of law, corrupts commerce and trade, exacerbates inequality, and erodes global security. On an individual level, it causes unimaginable pain, shatters communities, and disrupts lives. In short, it threatens our core mission of advancing a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. Fighting the scourge wherever it occurs is one of our agency’s highest priorities.
Since 2001, USAID has invested more than $290 million across 81 countries to combat trafficking. Ambassador Richmond put it very eloquently. He spoke of the three-P model. For us, it’s also a fourth P, and that’s partnerships with local, national, regional, and global stakeholders.
Our investments are rooted in supporting more than 30,000 at-risk or recovering individuals, but also making sure that our partners, including government partners, have awareness and understanding on how to spot human trafficking. Traffickers prey on the vulnerable, but they also rely upon the shadows of ignorance.
In implementing our programs, we work very closely with the State Department to make sure that our efforts are aligned and mutually reinforcing. My team just had a very productive meeting with Ambassador Richmond, and we’re going to do even more together. In fact, I am going to steal one of his best ideas, although in policy we don’t generally say “steal,” we say what, “appropriate,” I guess? But involving victims in the formal review of our grant proposals. We think it’s an excellent idea and ensures that those grant proposals and projects are sensitive to and enhancing the administration’s overall efforts.
USAID has also helped build the capacity of partner governments to prevent trafficking, support victims, and make sure that we bring criminals to justice. While these outcomes are more difficult to quantify, we’re confident that our investments have prevented numerous instances of trafficking and contributed to prosecution of perpetrators.
But this is just a good start. We all know here that much more needs to be done. We are committed to combating the scourge of trafficking from all angles. We are exploring the close ties, for example, between trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime.
We’re also focusing on strengthening the economic conditions of vulnerable communities by empowering them through employment placement services and training, to enhance their economic livelihood opportunities, and hopefully make them less susceptible to those who would prey upon them in trafficking.
Finally, we’re also committed to funding further research and refining our approach so that our investments are even more effective, more quantifiable, and more evidence-based. In fact, we have organized a summit on the topic, which is taking place today and tomorrow, to make sure that we have the latest research and best practices and can share them with our partners. It will include participants from across the USG, academia, NGOs, and others.
Thank you for this opportunity. I am proud of the administration’s efforts in this regard. We all know we have a long way to go, but we all know, in fact, that progress is being made.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Mark, thank you.
And now the Office of Director of National Intelligence. Andrew?
MR HALLMAN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And first I’d like to commend the administration for its leadership on this important issue. The Intelligence Community is committed to helping combat human trafficking because, as we’ve discussed today, most importantly, because it causes tremendous human suffering and robs individuals of their dignity, but also because it generates billions of dollars annually to support illicit actors and groups involved in terrorism, corruption, and crime. So we work closely with our U.S. government partners, with the private sector, and academia to close critical information gaps.
One of the ways we’re partnering across the U.S. government is through better information sharing and outreach. So, for example, last month we hosted a symposium, sponsored a symposium with 15 federal agencies to improve our shared understanding of traffickers’ networks and tactics.
Other partners from academia, Europol and Ameripol discussed ways to overcome data-sharing challenges and ways that we can use tools and technologies to identify human traffickers and their networks.
So we’ll leverage these relationships, these partnerships, to continue to drive for better actionable intelligence that will help our partners in the law enforcement community and the international community to disrupt and dismantle these trafficking networks.
Thank you again for the opportunity.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Andrew.
Now, if we might hear from the Department of Justice, please.
MS WILLIAMS: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. I want to start by thanking the President for his strong commitment to combating human trafficking. By making this an administration priority, the President has not only brought to light a crime often hidden in the shadows, he’s committed the United States government to confronting and taking steps to end this global atrocity.
Before I get to the Department of Justice’s accomplishments this year, I’d like to highlight a significant step by the DOJ that was recently announced this month. It’s the department’s sex trafficking demand reduction initiative. This initiative is intended to complement the department’s existing efforts to fight human trafficking and to emphasize the importance of deterring and punishing those who fuel the industry for sex trafficking, including from children and vulnerable victims, by driving demand.
Among other efforts, we expect that the department will issue regulations imposing requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act directly on convicted sex offenders in order to facilitate their compliance and, if necessary, prosecution.
Building off its takedown of backpage.com, which was once the dominant website for advertisements that facilitated sex trafficking, the department will further target the online marketplace that fuels and facilitates the abuse of trafficked persons.
The department will target operations at the Southwestern border, border checkpoints, and at travel hubs such as airports that serve travelers to and from Thailand, the Philippines, and Eastern Europe.
This demand reduction initiative supplements our already significant focus on combating human trafficking. In Fiscal Year 2018, DOJ secured convictions against 526 defendants in federal human trafficking prosecutions. In Fiscal Year 2018, the department brought 230 human trafficking prosecutions in which 386 defendants were charged.
Human trafficking was a training priority in 2019. This marks the first year where human trafficking training was a focus at the 2019 National Training on Child Exploitation in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, DOJ hosts monthly telephone conference calls with human trafficking coordinators and prosecutors from around the country to identify challenges and address ongoing issues.
As I mentioned earlier, a significant accomplishment in 2018 was the DOJ takedown of backpage.com. Backpage had been the internet’s leading source of prostitution-related advertisements that resulted in sex trafficking of minors and adults. DOJ obtained guilty pleas from backpage.com, its CEO and marketing director, and has seized over $150 million in real and personal property derived from proceeds of their illegal conduct. The takedown of Backpage and the implementation of the FOSTA-SESTA statute ending the impunity of such websites from civil and criminal liability has disrupted the marketplace for sex trafficking.
DOJ is also pleased that the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team – or ACTeam – Initiative has proved very successful with phase two completed in September 2018. As you know, the ACTeam Initiative is a collaborative effort of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Through this initiative, the interagency teams of federal agents and federal prosecutors are convened in select districts designated through a competitive, nationwide interagency selection process developed – to develop high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and international sex trafficking.
All six phase two ACTeam districts increased the number of defendants charged by 75 percent and more than doubled the number of defendants convicted compared to a 1 percent increase in the number of defendants charged and a 36 percent increase in defendants convicted nationwide during the same two-year period. In the coming year, DOJ looks forward to working with the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security on planning a possible ACTeam phase three.
DOJ and DHS collaboration with Mexican law enforcement counterparts through the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative has likewise been very successful. In the coming year, DOJ will work with DHS and Mexican partners on possible expansion of the footprint of the initiative to more districts. DOJ made awards to 17 enhanced collaborative model anti-trafficking task forces across the United States in Fiscal Year 2018, totaling $23.1 million for law enforcement agencies and victim service providers, implementing a collaborative approach to identifying and combating all forms of trafficking. In addition, DOJ made 52 new awards to strengthen identification of and assistance to victims of human trafficking in Fiscal Year 2018, totaling $37 million.
Next step, as Secretary Pompeo mentioned, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of the TVPA. DOJ plans to host five regional trainings for law enforcement and prosecutors on human trafficking cases. In January 2020, DOJ plans to host a human trafficking summit to commemorate Human Trafficking Awareness Month. We’re working toward launching ACTeam phase three in conjunction with the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security.
And finally, lawful access to electronic devices is crucial to identifying and prosecuting human traffickers. Lawful access means allowing investigators who have a court-ordered warrant, and thus, who have already demonstrated probable cause, to uncover evidence of a crime. We know that a tremendous amount of child exploitation and human trafficking is facilitated and covered up by end-to-end encryption, and we know that we will not be able to save and recover these victims if we’re prevented from finding them. The department recently held a summit addressing these issues and is committed to continuing to pursue a lawful access solution.
Thanks to all of you for your attention to this important issue. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and Ivanka. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, ma’am.
Department of Agriculture, please.
MR NORTHEY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thank you, Ms. Trump. Certainly, from Secretary Sonny Perdue, a great appreciation to the President for his leadership on this issue and engagement of the whole administration on this issue. At U.S. Department of Agriculture, our effort is really outreach and awareness. We have tens of thousands of employees across the country, many times in rural areas, some of them not as aware of the issue and what to do about the issue.
And so we’ve increased our training to those employees. We’ve encouraged them to reach out to others as well, provide more awareness, certainly cooperate with many other agencies in this room in being able to help follow up on areas of concern. And we look forward to continuing to provide that outreach to our employees to get better information to them. Those employees work with hundreds of thousands of farmers, agricultural businesses, rural businesses as well, and we can be part of that outreach to continue to let folks know about the importance of this issue, raise awareness, and address it all across this country.
So again, thank you for the leadership, thank you for the engagement, thanks to all the many partners that we have in this room as well in helping us help folks in real need.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.
The Department of Transportation is next, please.
MR SZABAT: Mr. Secretary, survivors have shown a strong nexus between human trafficking and transportation. Secretary Chao has made combating human trafficking a top priority of the Department of Transportation from the get-go. Years ago, as an Army cavalryman, I was taught that scouting the enemy was the key to defeating him. We are training Americans working in transportation to be our eyes and ears to scout out human trafficking as it occurs.
In the air, we have expanded the joint Department of Transportation and Department of Homeland Security Blue Lightning Initiative counter-trafficking partnership to include 25 airlines and aviation industry organizations. Over 100,000 flight attendants and other aviation professionals have been trained to look for tells among traffickers and their victims and trained how to connect the victims with help.
On the ground, DOT engaged with hundreds of stakeholders through our Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative and now have over 70 pledges signed by businesses across all transportation sectors.
On the roads and highways, truckers and bus drivers are our frontline scouts. We are proud to have nominated Kendis Paris and the Truckers Against Trafficking, and we look forward to continue to support their efforts to create an industry culture to fight trafficking and to provide training similar to the Blue Lightning Initiative.
The Department of Transportation issued a final rule permanently banning commercial driver’s licenses for life from any driver convicted of using a commercial vehicle in the act of human trafficking. We also awarded over $1 million in state grants to combating human trafficking through driver’s license standards and programs, and have announced $4 million in transit agency grants to address public safety, including human trafficking.
In the United States and internationally, we understand the key intersection of human trafficking and transportation, and we are committed to working with all of you to support the President’s whole-of-government approach to put an end to this atrocious crime.
Thank you, sir.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.
Next is the chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Janet?
MS CHAIR DHILLON: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is committed to combating human trafficking within the framework of the laws that we enforce. When force, fraud, or coercion is used to compel labor or exploit workers, traffickers and employers may not only be violating the criminal laws, but also federal equal opportunity laws. These laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of protected characteristics such as sex, race, and national origin. In the course of investigating charges of discrimination, the EEOC staff can be in a position to uncover evidence of human trafficking, and in those instances we alert law enforcement and we work closely with them. We also utilize the laws that we enforce to recover civil damages for the benefit of victims of human trafficking.
Going forward, we are building on the EEOC’s efforts, including creation of an internal Vulnerable Workers Task Force, which is working to enhance the work of the commission to reach and serve vulnerable worker populations, including victims of human trafficking; continuing to train our investigators – those who have the most interaction with the public – on how to recognize signs of human trafficking and what to do if they suspect that someone is a victim. We’re continuing our outreach and training to raise awareness. In Fiscal Year 2018, the EEOC sponsored or participated in over 180 events that included the topic of human trafficking.
We’re continuing our litigation efforts to bring justice to the victims of human trafficking, and we’re working to enhance our Youth At Work program. This is a national outreach campaign that’s designed to educate high school and college students about their rights in the workplace. We know that these young people in these age groups are vulnerable to trafficking, and so we’re updating our program to include more information for these people about human trafficking, including tools that they can use.
So, in conclusion, the EEOC is proud to play our part and to work with our partners to support this important initiative.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great, thank you. Next up is the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
MR BOWDICH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, Ms. Trump, for your leadership on this very important topic that affects our society. Want to quickly just scope the threat a little bit and understand why – lay out what our efforts are against that threat.
First of all, I think we have to understand that human trafficking can be extremely difficult to detect, even though it is – in spite of that, it’s imperative that the scale and the impact of that threat not be underestimated. At present, all 56 of the FBI’s field offices have ongoing human trafficking investigations. Our human trafficking program is investigating over 1,900 human trafficking cases. Over 600 of those were opened in Fiscal Year ’19 alone. Most of the cases we see – roughly 90 percent – are commercial sex trafficking, and they’re amongst the most heinous crimes that the FBI encounters.
As far as our approach and successes, the FBI has a long and proud history of working with our interagency partner at the state, local, federal, and tribal and international levels, and we will continue to do so in these types of crimes. We lead 86 child exploitation and human trafficking task forces, which bring together more than 450 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and nearly 900 designated task force officers. We have a number of successes, including Operation Independence Day, which occurred this past July. This takedown across the country resulted in the recovery and the identification of 103 child trafficking victims and the identification of 39 adult trafficking victims. It led to the arrest of 67 traffickers, with at least 60 of those cases being federally prosecutable.
The FBI’s Victim Services Division also works closely with the task forces to ensure that the survivors have access to emotional support, social services, and medical care as they recover. We take this kind of victim-centered approach because it is very critically important to empower survivors who have been victimized by human trafficking. We have to remember we have to speak for the victims. They play a very crucial role and help prosecuting these traffickers.
Looking ahead, as we look toward the future, especially with the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the FBI will continue to look for new ways to combat human trafficking. In 2020 we’ll be conducting training courses domestically and internationally to educate other law enforcement agencies on indicators of human trafficking. In coordination with the Department of Justice and U.S. attorneys’ offices in all 94 judicial districts, we’ll prosecute the most egregious offenders by building complex, enterprise-level investigations, and we’ll work with our task forces on targeted operations to recover and identify trafficking victims. We’ve got decades of investigative experience and strong partnerships that result from the many, many investigations we do, and we will continue to fully leverage those to attack this threat from all angles.
To footstomp Ms. Williams’ point from the Department of Justice, I would be remiss not to discuss the challenges that lie ahead. One of the most significant that we are concerned about is how criminals adapt their use of technology to elude law enforcement. They use encrypted devices and applications that law enforcement cannot access with lawful access. The problem is a going dark problem; the solution is lawful access. That’s all we’re asking for. Even with a lawful court order, we currently cannot access many of these encrypted apps and certain devices.
On this front, the FBI will continue to engage with our partners and stakeholders through solution-oriented discussions on how we obtain that lawful access. By working together with all of the agencies present here today and with our law enforcement and community partners across the country, we will continue to be committed to all we can – to commit to all we can to stop human trafficking. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Matt, did you have anything?
MR POTTINGER: Mr. Secretary, just very briefly, I just want to remark that next January is going to be the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and so we’re looking forward at the White House to commemorating that, reflecting on all the progress that we’ve made, and of course also sharing our vision for how to move forward and even better combat trafficking and modern slavery. Since June, the National Security Council staff, together with our domestic policy staff and our Office of Economic Initiatives, have been leading the White House action plan to combat human trafficking. And our goal, simply stated, really is to marshal all of the resources available to combat human trafficking, to support victims, to empower survivors, and hold traffickers accountable. So thank you very much, sir.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thanks, Matt, and thank you all. Now let’s hear from Director Joe Grogan of the Domestic Policy Council on how our agencies can maximize our individual efforts. Joe?
MR GROGAN: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo and Ivanka, for your leadership and dedication to this important issue. And thank you again to the Advisory Council for all the courage and dedication they bring to advance their cause. I want to thank the members around this table, the President’s Interagency Task Force, for participating in today’s meeting, specifically for sharing the important work each of your agencies has undertaken. And I’d like to thank the Senior Policy Operating Group for the work it does on this critical issue.
I have personally witnessed the President’s commitment on this. He – last year he asked specifically for the report of the President’s Interagency Task Force so that he could read it, and he often raises the subject of trafficking in meetings upon which it is not on the agenda. He cares about the trafficking issue and he understands from the cabinet secretaries, the national security staff, and his intelligence staff how it fuels criminal activities and terrorist activities as well. He also understands it because he believes he was elected to stand up for people who cannot fight for themselves, and there’s no more vulnerable population than those who are victims of trafficking.
As Secretary Azar said, it’s not just an international issue, it’s a domestic issue. And through the National Trafficking Hotline, we’ve identified over 10,000 potential cases of trafficking within our borders. As head of the Domestic Policy Council, I want to make it clear that each and every agency around this table has the commitments and the resources they need to advance the cause to fight human trafficking.
We will continue to focus on securing the border, because as the President understands, a porous border allows a revenue stream for those who want to traffic in human bondage. We will continue to work to help to understand the problem from a data perspective, both active data systems and passive data collection, to understand what is going on in the United States from a trafficking criminal enterprise and victim’s perspective. For instance, we don’t fully understand how big the problem is among native-born Americans and how often police officers in local communities are dealing with victims of trafficking. Oftentimes, victims do not want to admit that they’re being trafficked by family members, for instance. And while we have almost 5,000 shelters for animals who are – been abused in the United States, we have fewer than a thousand beds for children who’ve been trafficked sexually, many of those by their own family members.
So finally, in conclusion, I just want to again reiterate how grateful I am for the work that everybody does. And Ivanka, I want to thank you personally, because I know the President cares about it but you reinforce his interest in this issue. It’s a pleasure to work with you and your team on these issues, and it’s also great to work with the National Security Council to make sure that the domestic staff understands what the national security staff is up to. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Director Grogan. Thanks for your remarks. Thank you all for being here.
Let’s keep our passion for defeating this terrible crime strong, and come together again soon with new commitments and new ideas on how to be even more successful.
Thank you all for joining us here today.