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The Government of the United States fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore the United States remained on Tier 1. The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by investigating and prosecuting both sex and labor trafficking, and increasing the number of prosecutions and convictions; providing services to a greater number of trafficking victims; providing various types of immigration relief for foreign national victims; continuing engagement with survivors to improve programs and policies on human trafficking; enhancing outreach initiatives through the development of materials for states and territories; and continuing funding for an NGO-operated national hotline and referral service that added text and online chat capabilities to improve accessibility. Although the government meets the minimum standards, anti-trafficking advocates continued to report that victim services were not always provided equitably, urging an increase in resources for, and equitable access to, comprehensive services across the country. Advocates reported a lack of sustained effort to address labor trafficking compared to sex trafficking, and also reported continued instances of state and local officials detaining or prosecuting trafficking victims for criminal activity related to their trafficking victimization.

Increase investigation and prosecution of labor trafficking cases; increase resources for, and equitable access to, comprehensive victim services across the country; ensure services include access to substance use disorder services, economic and educational opportunities, and short-term and/or transitional housing for all victims, including male and LGBTI victims; better integrate screening protocols in the context of immigration enforcement to enhance victim identification and protection efforts; encourage state, local, and tribal authorities to adopt policies not to prosecute victims for crimes they were forced to commit in the course of their trafficking situation; increase survivor engagement, including by more systematically incorporating survivor input when forming policies, programs, and trainings; improve training for adjudicators of trafficking-related immigration benefits to reduce obstacles to processing; increase screening procedures to improve identification of trafficking victims particularly among populations vulnerable to human trafficking, including at-risk youth, LGBTI individuals, and American Indians and Alaska Natives; enhance trafficking-related prevention efforts in temporary worker programs in the United States; ensure federal law enforcement officials are trained regarding requests for Continued Presence for eligible victims and are applying in a timely manner and in appropriate circumstances; increase the availability of trauma-informed and survivor-informed services for victims; improve the collection and reporting of data on law enforcement efforts and on victims identified and assisted; finalize federal acquisition regulations aimed at preventing trafficking in federal contracts; enhance prevention efforts to address all forms of human trafficking and the demand for commercial sex and labor trafficking; and improve the response to the increased use of technology to recruit and advertise human trafficking victims. As described in the Methodology section of this report, these recommendations were drawn from input from NGOs and advocates on the degree to which the United States meets the minimum standards set forth in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA).

The U.S. government increased the number of prosecutions and convictions, but demonstrated a decrease in investigations. The TVPA, as amended and codified in sections 1589, 1590, and 1591 of the federal criminal code, criminalizes sex and labor trafficking. The penalties prescribed under these provisions, which can include up to life imprisonment, are sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. U.S. law also prohibits conspiracy and attempts to violate these provisions, as well as obstructing their enforcement and benefiting financially from these acts. Additionally, a criminal statute on fraud in foreign labor contracting prohibits the use of fraud to recruit workers abroad to work on a U.S. government contract performed within or outside the United States, on U.S. property, or on military installations outside the United States. The U.S. Congress passed several laws that address human trafficking during the reporting period.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Department of State (DOS) are the primary investigating agencies for federal trafficking offenses, with federal human trafficking cases prosecuted by DOJ. These agencies also support victims by using victim assistance specialists during trafficking investigations and prosecutions. DOJ, in coordination with DHS and the Department of Labor (DOL), continued to develop complex human trafficking investigations and prosecutions, deliver advanced training, and streamline coordination protocols through the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative. DOJ provided $2.8 million in FY 2017 to two law enforcement agencies and two victim service providers that make up two Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) anti-trafficking task forces in partnership with other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities and community partners. This represents a significant decrease from $15.8 million for 11 ECM task forces funded in FY 2016. Several federal agencies participated in human trafficking task forces nationwide consisting of federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers.

NGOs and survivor advocates called for increased collaboration between law enforcement, service providers, and survivors, including in preparation for enforcement actions. They also called for the development of best practices to identify and respond to the increased use of technology, including social media, to recruit and advertise victims of human trafficking, including victims of child sex trafficking. NGOs praised DOJ’s clarification to law enforcement officials in ECM task forces on the proper use of funds intended for victim identification and protections.

DOJ, as part of its labor trafficking initiative, conducted strategic public outreach to improve efforts to identify labor trafficking cases, including through the development and dissemination of indicator cards.

The federal government reports its law enforcement data by fiscal year. In FY 2017, DHS reported opening 833 investigations possibly involving human trafficking, a decrease from 1,029 in FY 2016. DOJ formally opened 782 human trafficking investigations, a decrease from 843 in FY 2016. (The FY 2016 number (843) represents a correction to the number cited last year (1,800), which in fact represented the number of pending cases rather than formally opened investigations.) DOS reported opening 169 human trafficking-related cases worldwide during FY 2017, a decrease from 288 in FY 2016. The Department of Defense (DoD) reported investigating 11 human trafficking-related cases involving U.S. military personnel compared to 13 in FY 2016.

DOJ initiated a total of 282 federal human trafficking prosecutions in FY 2017, an increase from 241 in FY 2016, and charged 553 defendants compared to 531 in FY 2016. Of these prosecutions, 266 involved predominantly sex trafficking and 16 involved predominantly labor trafficking, although some involved both. DOJ and DHS continued to partner with Mexican law enforcement counterparts to dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border. Through this collaboration, DOJ secured convictions against eight members of a transnational organized criminal sex trafficking enterprise. DHS scaled up border security and immigration enforcement activities consistent with Executive Order 13773 on enforcing federal law with respect to transnational criminal organizations and preventing international trafficking. The Department of the Treasury continued to analyze and disseminate information received from financial institutions related to human trafficking, and partnered with domestic and foreign government stakeholders to support human trafficking investigations, including through an international working group to enhance bilateral information-sharing and produce actionable information to disrupt financial flows connected to human trafficking.

During FY 2017, DOJ secured convictions against 499 traffickers, an increase from 439 convictions in FY 2016. Of these, 471 involved predominantly sex trafficking and 28 involved predominantly labor trafficking, although several involved both.

These prosecutions and convictions include cases brought under trafficking-specific criminal statutes and non-trafficking criminal statutes, but they do not include child sex trafficking cases brought under non-trafficking statutes. Sentences ranged from one month to life imprisonment. DOJ developed training materials for U.S. Attorneys that included information about mandatory restitution, and provided training to federal, state, local, and tribal prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and NGOs.

Anti-trafficking advocates reported concerns about efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute labor trafficking cases compared to sex trafficking, and continued to urge for more vigorous efforts, including additional training and resources for law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. NGOs also continued to call for greater legal authority and funding for DOL and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help address labor trafficking. In 2016, DOL’s Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG) became authorized to investigate labor trafficking offenses related to programs administered by DOL, pursuant to a Special Deputation Agreement between DOL-OIG and DOJ supplementing DOL-OIG’s statutory law enforcement authority. Survivor advocates called for increased oversight of the informal sector, including begging and family businesses, to improve identification of victims. NGOs called for improvements in data collection and reporting related to law enforcement actions to ensure accuracy, including by separating data on human trafficking from other crimes.

State laws form the basis of most criminal actions in the United States. All U.S. states and territories have anti-trafficking criminal statutes. In addition, 39 states had vacatur laws allowing survivors to seek a court order vacating or expunging criminal convictions entered against them that resulted from their trafficking situation, and at least 34 states had “safe harbor” laws.

Advocates continued to report state and local authorities arrested trafficking victims for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking, including in massage parlors and drug trafficking, and in some states with “safe harbor” laws even children were arrested. In one jurisdiction, an NGO reported victims felt pressured to testify against their traffickers so they would not be prosecuted by state and local authorities themselves.

NGOs also noted a lack of sustained state and local government efforts to provide remedies for sex trafficking survivors who had criminal records as a result of their exploitation, and they continued to report that state and local law enforcement demonstrated uncertainty regarding their authority to investigate and prosecute forced labor cases and lacked formal structures to increase the identification of such cases.

The federal government continued to collect state and local data on human trafficking investigations during the reporting period through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. State participation had reached approximately 78 percent of the United States, but not all state and local jurisdictions participated. DOJ is in the process of updating the UCR system to encourage participating jurisdictions that have not been able to establish a viable crime data reporting system to better collect and report human trafficking data. Data from 2016 collected from participating jurisdictions are publicly available. In 2016, participating jurisdictions reported a total of 654 human trafficking offenses resulting in arrest or solved for crime reporting purposes, a significant increase from 387 in 2015. There is no formal mechanism for the federal government to track prosecutions at the state and local levels.

The government took actions to address alleged complicity in human trafficking by government employees. Authorities charged a municipal corrections officer with sex trafficking involving a 16-year-old. A municipal law enforcement officer was charged with sex trafficking, among other crimes. A U.S. Navy Seaman was charged with sex trafficking and an investigation was initiated against a U.S. Navy Petty Officer for conspiring to bring two victims from Thailand to Bahrain to subject them to sex trafficking.

The U.S. government continued to expand capacity-building efforts for law enforcement, judges, military personnel, and labor inspectors, among others, to more effectively respond to human trafficking cases. DOJ conducted training on increasing the identification of human trafficking cases, including through proactive labor trafficking investigations; supported training of more than 150 judicial officers on child sex trafficking risk factors, victim identification, and effective intervention strategies; facilitated more than 2,000 regional law enforcement trainings to help state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective responses to technology-facilitated sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children; and provided technical assistance to states, tribes, and local jurisdictions interested in developing innovative approaches to working with girls in the juvenile justice system, including child sex trafficking victims. In addition, in FY 2017, each U.S. Attorney’s Office formulated a district-specific anti-trafficking strategy to enhance victim identification, investigation, prosecution, and collaboration. DHS provided training on detecting and investigating the crime to significantly more federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials and stakeholders than in the previous reporting period. DHS also provided human trafficking training to foreign law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service providers from 73 countries in collaboration with DHS Attaché offices. DOL completed the delivery of awareness training to all Wage and Hour Division investigators. The Department of the Interior (DOI) provided training to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers on human trafficking in Indian Country.

Some federal agencies engaged with survivors to incorporate their input in the development of victim-centered training for law enforcement and prosecutors.

Survivor advocates continued to call for greater collaboration, including at the state and local level, in developing training, as well as hiring survivor trainers.

The U.S. government maintained protection efforts and continued to fund victim assistance for trafficking victims. The funding level decreased slightly from the previous year, although the number of victims served significantly increased. The government had formal procedures to guide officials in victim identification and referral to service providers; funded several federal tip lines, including an NGO-operated national hotline and referral service; and funded task forces and NGOs that provided trafficking-specific victim services. Comprehensive victim assistance funded by the federal government includes case management and referrals for medical and dental care, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, sustenance and shelter, translation and interpretation services, immigration and legal assistance, employment and training, transportation assistance, and other services.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued Certification and Eligibility Letters for foreign victims to be eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, provided grant funding for comprehensive case management for foreign and domestic trafficking victims, and funded capacity-building grants for community-based organizations and child welfare systems to respond to trafficking. DOJ provided funding for victim-centered services for both domestic and foreign trafficking victims. Record-keeping systems used by DOJ and HHS did not allow for cross-referencing to determine which victims were served by both agencies.

A Certification Letter enables foreign adult victims to be eligible to apply for federal and state services to the same extent as refugees 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 or Interim Assistance Letter allows immediate eligibility for federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as refugees when credible information indicates a child is or may be a victim of trafficking. HHS issued 446 Certification Letters to foreign adults in FY 2017 compared to 443 in FY 2016, and issued 509 Eligibility Letters to foreign children in FY 2017, a significant increase from 332 in FY 2016. Seventy-five percent of all adult victims certified in FY 2017 were victims of labor trafficking, slightly more than half of whom were female; and more than 72 percent of child trafficking victims who received Eligibility Letters were labor trafficking victims.

HHS awarded $6.6 million in FY 2017 to three NGOs for the provision of case management services to foreign national victims through a nationwide network of NGO sub-recipients, a slight increase from $6.4 million in FY 2016. Through these grants, HHS supported 177 NGOs with the capacity to serve individuals in 99 cities across the country that provided assistance to a total of 1,531 individuals and their family members. In FY 2017, HHS provided $3.4 million, the same amount in FY 2016, for U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident (LPR) victims of human trafficking to obtain trauma-informed case management and referrals. It provided $2.3 million to address trafficking within child welfare systems, a slight decrease from $2.5 million in FY 2016. HHS also piloted a leadership academy composed of survivors and anti-trafficking professionals that developed recommendations to enhance survivor-informed programming.

During FY 2017, DOJ provided $16.2 million for victim-centered services, which included $11.2 million for 18 victim service providers offering comprehensive and specialized services across the United States and $5 million to one organization to increase access to legal services for survivors through funding attorney fellowships across the country. This represents a decrease from 33 providers receiving $19.7 million in FY 2016. DOJ transferred $16 million to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to support a new initiative to address the housing needs of survivors. DOJ also provided $2.7 million in new funding for training and technical assistance to help service providers develop and implement housing and employment practices, and to support law enforcement members of ECM task forces. DOJ provided $1.9 million to support mentoring and comprehensive victim services for U.S. citizen victims of child sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. From July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, DOJ grantees providing victim services reported 8,003 open client cases, including 4,349 new clients, a significant increase from 5,655 open client cases and 3,195 new clients reported the previous year and a respective 3,889 and 2,180 the year before that. DOJ’s grantees reported that 66 percent of clients served during the reporting period were U.S. citizens or LPRs and 34 percent were foreign nationals. Grantees reported that 64 percent of clients served were victims of sex trafficking, 24 percent were victims of labor trafficking, four percent were identified as victims of both sex and labor trafficking, and the form of trafficking for eight percent was unknown.

During the year, HHS child protection specialists continued to provide training and technical assistance to identify child trafficking victims. When children are placed in the care and custody of HHS, they are screened for trafficking exploitation 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 141 child victims of trafficking through its Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program in FY 2017, an increase from 122 served in FY 2016. This program requires states to provide such child victims with the same assistance, care, and services available to foster children.

NGOs and survivor advocates continued to express concern that in federally funded programs to provide comprehensive services for all victims of trafficking, comprehensive services were not always provided, and called for increased resources, capacity-building support, and more strategic spending of funds to ensure equitable access to services across the country. NGOs and survivor advocates called for increased availability of victim-centered, trauma-informed, and survivor-informed services for trafficking victims. NGOs called for increased access to mental health and substance use disorder support services for trafficking victims, and also called for access to comprehensive medical care. Survivor advocates and NGOs reported the need for more government oversight of the quality of assistance provided to trafficking victims by federally funded organizations. NGOs and survivor advocates continued to report insufficient access to shelter and long-term transitional housing options for trafficking victims, especially for men, boys, and LBGTI individuals, and called for increased access to long-term services. Advocates noted concern about human trafficking funding opportunities no longer referring to services for LGBTI individuals. Survivor advocates called for improvements to education, job training, and job placement for survivors to create more economic opportunities, including within the anti-trafficking field.

DHS provides trafficking-specific immigration options through Continued Presence, which is temporary, and T nonimmigrant status (commonly referred to as the T visa). T visa applicants must have been victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons, be in the United States, American Samoa, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry because of trafficking, and show cooperation with reasonable requests from law enforcement unless they are younger than 18 years of age or unable to cooperate due to trauma suffered. They must also demonstrate that they would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal from the United States. T visa applicants 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. T nonimmigrant status lasts for four years and may be extended under certain circumstances. After three years, or upon the completion of the investigation or prosecution, those with T visas may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status and eventually may be eligible for citizenship. DHS granted T nonimmigrant status to 672 victims and 690 eligible family members of victims in FY 2017, a decrease from 750 and 986 in FY 2016.

NGOs reported increased obstacles to obtaining a T visa, noting a rising number of requests for additional evidence by adjudicators, including requests that referred to outdated regulations, and called for improved training for adjudicators.

DHS manages all requests from federal and state law enforcement for Continued Presence, authorizing foreign nationals identified by law enforcement as trafficking victims who may be potential witnesses to remain lawfully and work in the United States during the investigation and prosecution of the crime. In FY 2017, DHS issued Continued Presence to 160 trafficking victims, who were potential witnesses, an increase from 129 in FY 2016. DHS granted 113 extensions of Continued Presence, compared to 179 in FY 2016.

NGOs called for law enforcement to request Continued Presence expeditiously pursuant to DHS policy. Survivor advocates also called for increased training and collaboration for law enforcement provided by victim assistance specialists embedded in their law enforcement field offices.

Another form of immigration relief available to trafficking victims is 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 and meet other specific eligibility requirements. DHS does not delineate the number of U visas issued based on the specific underlying crimes for which they were issued.

In FY 2017, a DOS program reunified 277 family members with identified victims of trafficking in the United States, compared with 279 in FY 2016. This program assisted one survivor to return home.

The U.S. government continued to provide training to federal, state, local, and tribal officials, as well as to NGO service providers and health and human service providers to encourage more consistent application of victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches in all phases of victim identification, assistance, recovery, and participation in the criminal justice process. Advocates called for specialized training for law enforcement and service providers on the linkage between substance use and human trafficking, including the use of drugs to coerce victims. DOJ included training on the linkage between the manipulation of drug addiction and coercion in its trainings on human trafficking provided to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

NGOs called for enhanced screenings within the criminal justice system to identify potential victims, especially minor victims. NGOs continued to report the criminalization of victims creates barriers to accessing public benefits, employment, financial aid for higher education, housing, and other needs essential to avoid re-trafficking and facilitate recovery. NGOs commended government efforts to improve the identification of child sex trafficking victims within the child welfare system and called for expansion of these efforts to include identification of labor trafficking victims.

In addition, advocates urged a victim-centered approach to immigration enforcement that would ensure foreign trafficking victims are not deterred from reporting their trafficking situation to law enforcement or from seeking help from service providers. Advocates called for improved screening protocols to prevent the removal or deportation of trafficking victims, and reported cases where immigration officials allegedly detained or deported individuals displaying key indicators of trafficking, including cases reported where immigrants were taken into custody when seeking protection at specialized human trafficking courts.

The U.S. government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. Federal agencies conducted numerous educational and training activities for their own personnel, including law enforcement and acquisition professionals, and field office staff. The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons continued federal anti-trafficking efforts and its work with the presidentially appointed survivor advisory council. The government continued to implement its strategic action plan on victim services in the United States and publicly released the third status report for FY 2016 in August 2017.

The government continued public outreach measures on the causes and consequences of human trafficking and continued efforts to increase victim identification among vulnerable populations and sectors and improve prevention efforts. HHS continued to fund an NGO to operate the national human trafficking hotline, and added text and online chat capabilities to improve accessibility. In FY 2017, the hotline received 62,835 calls from across the United States and U.S. territories, identified 8,759 human trafficking cases, and provided resources and referrals to 10,615 victims. The hotline also received information on 4,863 potential traffickers and 1,698 businesses facilitating human trafficking. More than 2,000 individuals who identified as victims of trafficking directly called the hotline seeking help. U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide continued to provide applicants for temporary work and exchange visitor visas a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet and, in key countries, continued to play a related video in consular waiting rooms. In FY 2017, the pamphlet generated 714 calls to the national hotline compared to 459 calls generated by the pamphlet in FY 2016.

In 2017, DHS continued its nationwide human trafficking awareness Blue Campaign and, with input from trafficking survivors and other partners, developed new products, including a new public service announcement focused on labor trafficking. DHS held more than 1,100 training and engagement events with NGOs and law enforcement. HHS launched new educational materials that incorporated stakeholder and survivor input and created 59 fact sheets that provide an overview of anti-trafficking activities and available resources in states and territories. DOL launched a mandatory new course to educate all DOL employees on recognizing indicators of human trafficking. DOL also trained corresponding state authorities to identify and refer cases of human trafficking, and to respond to sexual harassment and human trafficking issues routinely faced by farmworkers. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and DHS continued to train airline personnel on recognizing and responding to indicators of human trafficking in addition to fostering new partnerships with airlines and aviation industry associations, and DOT continued to grow its group of public and private sector transportation stakeholders to maximize the transportation industry’s collective impact on combating human trafficking. In FY 2017, EEOC, in partnership with community-based organizations, conducted 199 trafficking outreach events, reaching more than 10,600 individuals, and conducted nine training sessions for 357 staff and representatives of state and local fair employment practice agencies on identifying and developing trafficking-related charges of discrimination. EEOC also continued its efforts to increase public awareness about human trafficking with its human trafficking resource guide. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered several training modules to its personnel and local law enforcement officers on how to identify and combat human trafficking. The Department of Education (ED) partnered with HHS and survivor experts to hold a briefing for school administrators, parents, and the public to promote awareness of child trafficking in schools. DOS continued to provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel, and launched a new course on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse that includes information on sex trafficking. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded 33 anti-trafficking projects worldwide and continued its mandatory online training for all employees on its code of conduct, which prohibits all employees from engaging in human trafficking or any behaviors that may facilitate trafficking, such as commercial sex.

NGOs continued to call for a more comprehensive approach to address the factors and conditions that increase vulnerabilities to human trafficking, and survivor advocates called for federal educational materials to include more examples of all forms of human trafficking. Advocates called for efforts to estimate the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States.

NGOs continued to allege human trafficking of workers in the United States on work-based or other nonimmigrant visas. Advocates continued to call for enhanced protections for workers in temporary worker visa programs, including regulatory changes to uncouple work visas from an employer or sponsor. They also called for regulatory changes that would protect individuals in certain temporary worker programs to the same extent as other workers. In addition, NGOs called for the allocation of more resources to protect workers from unscrupulous recruiters, and one NGO called for increased transparency and accountability for temporary worker programs and for agencies to develop a database to share visa and job-related information with workers in real time.

Under the H-2A and H-2B programs, employers are barred from seeking or receiving payments from workers for any activities related to obtaining labor certification or employment, including job placement and recruitment fees, and salary and wage deductions, and both programs require that the terms of employment be disclosed. DOL continued to maintain an online list of H-2B foreign labor recruiters to increase transparency in the recruitment process, help workers verify legitimate H-2B job opportunities in the United States, and better enforce recruitment violations; this list does not certify or indicate recruiters’ compliance with the recruitment fee ban. DOJ and DOS approved a formal mechanism to share information on employers that may be abusing employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to enhance oversight and enforcement of these programs.

NGOs continued to report that workers were still being charged prohibited fees and called for increased government enforcement of the recruitment fee ban.

In FY 2017, DOL issued 9,797 H-2A and 6,599 H-2B temporary labor certifications. DOL does not accept temporary labor certification applications for processing if the employer discloses that it charges a prohibited fee to the worker. DHS does not delineate reasons for H-2A and H-2B denials, thus data related to the number of denials based upon prohibited fee practices is unavailable. DOL and DHS continued to share data related to immigrant and nonimmigrant labor certifications and petitions.

DOS continued its oversight of the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, which includes the Summer Work Travel (SWT), intern, and au pair programs. DOS continued to monitor program participants to help safeguard their health, safety, and welfare and to identify and investigate program fraud and abuse. DOS conducted field monitoring of the SWT program in the 2017 summer and winter seasons, visiting 965 SWT exchange visitor sites in 24 states and the District of Columbia. DOS also continued community outreach efforts in 19 states with significant SWT populations. DOS continued to liaise with law enforcement on criminal investigations relating to the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program. In July 2017, a Nevada man was sentenced to 26 months in prison and three years’ supervised release, along with two co-defendants sentenced to five years of probation, for exploiting more than 200 intern and trainee exchange visitors; the three were ordered to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution. The number of complaints and incidents reported to DOS involving the SWT program declined during the reporting period.

Reports continued to allege abuse under the au pair program involving au pairs working extra hours without additional pay and not receiving the appropriate wage for their placement jurisdiction.

In February 2018, a federal appeals court in Colorado ruled a certified class of immigration detainees who alleged they were forced to work in violation of the TVPA during their detention in a privately owned and operated prison company contracted by DHS could proceed. DHS is not party to the lawsuit. During the reporting period, similar lawsuits were filed against privately owned and operated prison companies contracted by DHS in California.

In 2017, DOS continued to administer its domestic worker In-Person Registration Program for A-3 and G-5 visa holders employed by foreign mission and international organization personnel, respectively, in the Washington, DC, area.

Civil enforcement of federal laws continued to be a significant component of the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. DOL investigated complaints and conducted targeted civil labor investigations involving workers in industries and sectors known to be vulnerable to labor trafficking. In FY 2017, DOL continued enforcement activities in industries including agriculture, landscaping, hotels, seafood, and reforestation.

During the reporting period, EEOC, which enforces federal employment discrimination statutes, continued to pursue cases on behalf of and ensure compensation for victims of trafficking, but did not file any new cases. Federal law also allows a person subjected to trafficking to independently file a civil cause of action, and there were cases in which individuals filed a civil cause of action during the reporting period.

In FY 2017, EEOC received 10 new charges of discrimination linked to human trafficking. It also resolved nine similar pending charges and recovered $272,500 in monetary benefits for charging parties through the administrative process. As of September 30, 2017, EEOC had 27 pending charges linked to human trafficking. During the reporting period, EEOC implemented its new guidance on national origin discrimination that provides EEOC’s interpretation of national origin based employment discrimination law, including human trafficking.

The government continued its efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex and forced labor in the reporting period. DoD investigated 10 cases of service members allegedly violating DoD’s prohibition on procuring commercial sex, compared to at least seven investigations the previous year. DOJ continued to prosecute individuals who pay or attempt to pay for commercial sex involving children. For example, in 2017, one such defendant received a sentence of 220 months in prison for child sex trafficking.

NGOs continued to call for increased efforts to address the demand for commercial sex, including efforts to prosecute those who solicit sex from trafficking victims.

DOJ and DHS continued to proactively investigate allegations of child sex tourism offenses perpetrated overseas by U.S. citizens and partnered with foreign law enforcement counterparts to share information regarding international travel of registered child sex offenders. Nine defendants were convicted of federal child sex tourism charges in FY 2017 compared to 10 in the previous reporting period. Offenders who abuse children abroad may have been prosecuted under other statutes, and prosecutions based on other statutes are not reflected in this statistic. DOJ, along with DHS, DOS, and DoD, continued to implement a strategy to track registered sex offenders traveling internationally.

DOJ and other federal law enforcement agencies continued to investigate allegations of debt bondage and excessive recruitment fees required of third-country nationals working on certain U.S. government contracts abroad, but no federal criminal prosecutions of employers or labor contractors resulted from these investigations in FY 2017. DoD took action against noncompliant employers or labor contractors from U.S. programs resulting in 22 suspensions, six debarments, one job termination, and one compliance agreement.

During the reporting period, the government did not finalize a clarification in the form of a definition of “recruitment fees” in the context of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, “Ending Trafficking in Persons,” which strengthens protections against trafficking in federal contracts; or guidance for federal contractors in anti-trafficking risk management best practices and mitigation considerations.

DHS enforces a law that prohibits the importation of goods made by prohibited forms of labor, including forced labor. DHS issued one Withhold Release Order from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, for a shipment of goods on grounds it was produced by forced labor. The government also enacted a new law during the reporting period that extends this prohibition to any goods produced by North Korean workers. DOL released a mobile and web application that provides companies and industry groups practical guidance on how to identify risks of forced labor in their supply chains and mitigate or remediate abuses.

Survivor advocates reported the need for increased data on human trafficking within American Indian and Alaska Native communities and called for increased resources focused on tribal communities.

In September 2017, the government established an ad hoc working group to increase the effectiveness and coordination of its anti-trafficking efforts focused on American Indian and Alaska Native communities. DOI led an interagency working group to develop a set of resource maps that identify federal victim assistance personnel working in Indian Country for distribution to federal law enforcement and victim service personnel. DOI also delivered awareness training to more than 1,300 attendees, including new disciplines and organizations, such as the National Indian Gaming Commission, medical services, and states developing human trafficking task forces. DHS filmed a new trafficking training video for American Indian communities developed with survivor input, and entered into a formal partnership with a new human trafficking working group established by the mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, to collaborate on local efforts and provide training and resources. DOJ grantees organized the first tribal-specific national conference on sex trafficking, which brought together tribes; federal, state, and local agencies; and advocates, including NGOs and survivor advocates. DOJ provided support to improve law enforcement responses to missing, endangered, and abducted children, including cases of child sex trafficking in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. HHS released a toolkit developed with survivor input to educate American Indian youth, and produced webinars specific to American Indian populations to increase public awareness, identify victims, connect victims to services, and prevent human trafficking.

The Government Accountability Office reported that challenges include a criminal justice infrastructure inadequate to meet the needs of Indian Country, limited victim services, including culturally relevant services, and barriers to proactively identifying victims.

Trafficking in persons is believed to occur in the U.S. insular areas, including American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

In Guam and CNMI, members of DOJ-led human trafficking task forces continued to engage with community partners to provide victim services, train law enforcement, and share strategies for improving victim identification. DOJ also continued to advance an initiative that enhances coordination with stakeholders in the Pacific Region on victim services, law enforcement responses, training, community outreach, and prevention programs. In addition, DOJ held a human trafficking awareness training that included government officials and NGOs from Guam and CNMI. In Puerto Rico and USVI, DOJ participated with DHS in task forces designed to raise awareness of and combat human trafficking.

HHS provides services to foreign victims of trafficking in American Samoa, Guam, CNMI, Puerto Rico, and USVI. As part of the victim assistance funding previously mentioned, DOJ made two awards in FY 2016 to NGOs providing comprehensive and legal services to trafficking victims in CNMI. In FY 2017, the HHS-funded national hotline received 19 calls from U.S. territories, with the majority of those calls coming from Puerto Rico. HHS provided grant-funded training and technical assistance in American Samoa, Guam, CNMI, Puerto Rico, and USVI in FY 2017.

Authorities indicted a man for sex and labor trafficking, involving victims in USVI and Florida, where one of the charges included forcing a woman to clear debris caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria from his mother’s property.

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 occurs in both legal and illicit industries, including in commercial sex, hospitality, traveling sales crews, agriculture, janitorial services, construction, restaurants, care for persons with disabilities, salon services, massage parlors, fairs and carnivals, peddling and begging, drug smuggling and distribution, and child care and domestic work. Individuals who entered the United States with and without legal status have been identified as trafficking victims. Government officials, companies, and NGOs have continued to express 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 FY 2017 were the United States, Mexico, and Honduras. Populations in the United States vulnerable to human trafficking include: children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; runaway and homeless youth; unaccompanied children; American Indians and Alaska Natives; migrant laborers, including undocumented workers and participants in visa programs for temporary workers; foreign national domestic workers in diplomatic households; persons with limited English proficiency; persons with low literacy; persons with disabilities; LGBTI individuals; and participants in court-ordered substance use diversion programs. NGOs noted an increase in the use of technology to recruit and advertise victims of human trafficking. Some U.S. citizens engage in child sex tourism in foreign countries.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future