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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, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore the United States remained on Tier 1.  These efforts included significantly increasing the number of victims served by federal grantees; increasing the number of Continued Presence and T nonimmigrant status approvals while decreasing the median processing time for both; establishing a new forced labor initiative to improve the government’s ability to identify and prosecute federal criminal forced labor violations; and increasing enforcement of the prohibition of imports made wholly or in part by forced labor.  Although the government meets the minimum standards, in some cases survivors continued to be arrested for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, and some victim-witnesses did not receive needed protections during their case.  There was a continued lack of progress to comprehensively address labor trafficking in the United States, such as in efforts to identify victims, including those who participate in U.S. visa programs; provide labor trafficking survivors with specialized services; and hold labor traffickers, including contractors and recruiters, accountable.  Funding for victim services remained inadequate, as did the availability of affordable, safe, and stable housing options for survivors.  The government continued not to mandate human trafficking screening for all foreign national adults in immigration detention or custody and did not screen for trafficking indicators among the people it removed.

  • Increase efforts to comprehensively address labor trafficking in the United States, including identification of and provision of services to labor trafficking victims.
  • Implement screening throughout the juvenile justice, immigration, criminal justice, and child welfare systems for human trafficking indicators.
  • Assess government systems and programs to ensure they advance equity for and decrease the vulnerability of underserved communities to human trafficking.
  • Improve access to emergency, transitional, and longer-term housing for all trafficking survivors.
  • Increase access to and accessibility of specialized services for all survivors.
  • Increase oversight and address structural weaknesses of temporary worker or other nonimmigrant U.S. visa programs to decrease vulnerabilities to trafficking.
  • Increase the number of requests for Continued Presence.
  • Shorten processing times for trafficking-related immigration benefits and remove barriers for victims to obtain those benefits.
  • Encourage federal, state, local, and tribal authorities to implement effective policies to ensure victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
  • Support federal legislation to allow victims, in appropriate cases, to vacate federal convictions for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
  • Increase meaningful engagement with survivors by incorporating survivor input into all stages of anti-trafficking efforts and establishing accessible mechanisms for providing compensation.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of current federal law enforcement strategies in identifying and supporting victims and adjust strategies as necessary.
  • Train investigators, prosecutors, and judges to increase the number of forfeiture and mandatory restitution orders for trafficking victims, and use all available authorities to ensure restitution is paid.
  • Strengthen efforts to address demand for all forms of human trafficking.  

As described in the Methodology section of this report, these recommendations were drawn from input solicited from multiple anti-trafficking stakeholders, such as advocates (which includes NGOs and subject matter experts who have survived human trafficking), academia, and government agencies, on how the United States could better meet the minimum standards set forth in the TVPA.  

The government maintained prosecution efforts.  The TVPA, as amended and codified at Title 18 U.S. Code sections 1581, et seq., criminalizes sex and labor trafficking.  U.S. law confers extraterritorial jurisdiction for these human trafficking offenses, as long as the defendant (whether individual or entity) is a U.S. national, U.S. lawful permanent resident, or is present in the United States, regardless of the defendant’s nationality.  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 prohibits conspiracy and the attempt to violate these provisions, obstruction of the statutes’ enforcement, and benefiting from such acts.  Additionally, a criminal statute prohibits the use of fraud to recruit, solicit, or hire workers abroad to come to the United States to work, or to recruit workers to work on a U.S. government contract performed outside the United States, on U.S. property, or on military installations outside the United States.  During the reporting period, the U.S. Congress partially reauthorized the TVPA to include, among other provisions, an authorization of funding to increase federal labor trafficking investigations, a prohibition on traffickers filing for bankruptcy to avoid paying restitution, and removal of the sunset clause for the presidentially appointed survivor advisory councilIn addition, the TVPA reauthorization required the Department of Justice (DOJ), subject to the availability of funding, to designate additional law enforcement agents dedicated to increasing DOJ’s ability to investigate and prosecute technology-facilitated human trafficking, particularly for cases involving children.  

DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of State (State) are the primary investigating agencies for federal human trafficking and other related offenses, with the Department of Defense (DoD) enforcing the U.S. military code to prosecute sex trafficking-related offenses.  The Department of Labor (DOL)’s inspector general uses its authority to criminally investigate labor trafficking offenses related to DOL programs, including offenses that involve unscrupulous employers who circumvent DOL foreign labor certification programs.  DOJ prosecutes federal human trafficking cases.  DOJ, DHS, and State support victims by engaging law enforcement victim assistance specialists during trafficking investigations and prosecutions, including by connecting identified victims to victim service providers.  In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, DHS forensic interview specialists, who are part of DHS’s main investigative arm, conducted 1,836 forensic interviews, out of which 369 were related to human trafficking.  DHS victim assistance specialists assisted 765 victims of human trafficking, an increase from 728 in FY 2021.  DOJ forensic interview specialists conducted 179 human trafficking forensic interviews of victims, a decrease from 202 in FY 2021, and DOJ’s 171 victim specialists provided services to human trafficking victims in 599 cases, compared with 172 victim specialists and 708 cases in FY 2021. 

In FY 2022, DOJ launched a forced labor initiative in partnership with DHS, State, and DOL to improve the government’s ability to identify and prosecute federal criminal forced labor violations.  Through the initiative, the government identified federal jurisdictions with a high prevalence of forced labor, began conducting threat assessments and screening for possible forced labor indicators, and began assisting federal and local law enforcement and NGOs.  In FY 2022, DOJ provided $21.6 million to support the work of 15 Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) anti-trafficking task forces, which included awards to 15 state and local law enforcement agencies and 15 victim service providers, compared with $22.3 million for 15 ECM task forces in FY 2021 (15 state and local law enforcement agencies and 15 victim service providers).  Several federal agencies participated in other human trafficking task forces nationwide consisting of federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers.  

DOJ and DHS continued to advance bilateral investigations and prosecutions of transnational trafficking enterprises operating across the U.S.-Mexico border by facilitating exchanges of leads, intelligence, and expertise between U.S. and Mexican anti-trafficking authorities and providing support to Mexican state-level authorities and human trafficking task forces.  DOJ delivered capacity-building trainings and facilitated exchanges of expertise and strategic guidance with Mexican state-level human trafficking task forces from Estado de Mexico and Chihuahua.  The programs focused on enhancing capacity to identify human trafficking victims, conduct trauma-informed victim interviews, and develop the evidence necessary to initiate successful prosecutions.  

Advocates called on federal, state, and local governments to redirect funding from law enforcement to community-led organizations to better support Black and Brown communities.  According to these advocates, law enforcement was more likely to perceive people of color as criminals rather than trafficking victims, inhibiting proper identification.  One NGO reported 29 percent of survivors it served in 2022 said they had been compelled to commit a crime as a direct result of being trafficked, and 67 percent of those survivors identified as Black.  

The federal government reports its law enforcement data by fiscal year, which may include joint federal and state or local actions but does not include separate state or local law enforcement data.  In FY 2022, DHS opened 1,373 human trafficking investigations, an increase from 1,111 in FY 2021.  Six of those investigations were of individuals and entities that may be benefiting from goods produced using forced labor overseas.  DOJ opened 668 human trafficking investigations in FY 2022, an increase from 599 in FY 2021.  (The FY 2021 number (599) is a correction to the number cited last year (603).)  Of DOJ’s FY 2022 investigations, 613 involved predominantly sex trafficking and 55 involved predominantly labor trafficking, compared with 573 and 26, respectively, in FY 2021.  (The FY 2021 numbers (573 and 26) are corrections to the numbers cited last year (577 and 21).)  In FY 2022, DOL’s inspector general opened 24 criminal investigations into allegations involving labor trafficking.  Seventeen of these cases were investigated jointly with other federal law enforcement partners.  State reported investigating 208 human trafficking-related cases worldwide during FY 2022, a significant increase from 111 in FY 2021.  In FY 2022, DoD reported investigating 101 human trafficking-related cases involving DoD military, civilian, and contractor personnel, compared with 108 in FY 2021.  Of the 101 cases that DoD investigated, four were related to forced labor.  The four forced labor investigations represent a significant decrease from 31 cases in FY 2021.  

DOJ initiated 162 federal human trafficking prosecutions in FY 2022, a significant decrease from 228 in FY 2021.  DOJ charged 310 defendants in FY 2022, a decrease from 347 defendants in FY 2021.  Of these FY 2022 prosecutions, 155 involved predominantly sex trafficking and seven involved predominantly labor trafficking, compared with 221 and seven in FY 2021, respectively.  

During FY 2022, DOJ secured the convictions of 256 traffickers, a significant increase from 203 traffickers in 2021.  Of these, 248 involved predominantly sex trafficking and eight involved predominantly labor trafficking, compared with 190 and 13 in FY 2021, respectively.  

These prosecutions and convictions included cases brought under trafficking-specific criminal statutes and non-trafficking criminal statutes, but they did not include child sex trafficking cases brought under non-trafficking statutes.  Among the 291 traffickers sentenced to prison in cases brought under trafficking-specific criminal statutes, which excludes trafficking cases brought under non-trafficking statutes, judges imposed terms ranging from three months to life imprisonment, with more than 86 percent of defendants receiving prison sentences of five or more years.  Six traffickers received a probation-only sentence, and 17 received a suspended sentence.  This sentencing data came from federal courts, which tracked cases only by trafficking-specific criminal statutes, did not indicate all applicable charges when a defendant was charged with more than five offenses, and did not capture trafficking cases resolved by pleas to non-trafficking charges.  

Federal human trafficking cases continued to involve predominantly sex trafficking despite service providers assisting significant numbers of labor trafficking victims.  Advocates called on the government to address the reasons for the comparatively low number of investigations into labor trafficking and to increase investigations and prosecutions of labor trafficking.  Advocates recommended federally funded anti-trafficking task forces create teams or groups to focus primarily on labor trafficking or sex trafficking, since these cases require different approaches and prosecution strategies.  Advocates maintained that in instances where labor trafficking and sex trafficking could be occurring at the same time, law enforcement only investigated sex trafficking.  

Advocates continued to call for federal prosecutors to consistently seek, and for courts to consistently award, mandatory restitution for both sex and labor trafficking cases, citing concerns about both the low number of cases in which it was ordered and the low rate of payment of restitution to trafficking victims consistent with restitution orders.  One NGO noted about 49 percent of defendants convicted of a crime that triggered mandatory restitution were ordered to pay restitution in 2022, an increase from approximately 34 percent in 2021.  Advocates noted that even in cases where the court ordered restitution, the traffickers in many cases did not have enough funds to pay or avoided paying significant fees by hiding their funds.  Advocates again urged the government to use its available authorities to enforce compliance with restitution orders.  

State laws form the basis of most criminal actions in the United States.  All U.S. states and territories have anti-trafficking criminal statutes.  The federal government continued to collect state, local, and tribal data on human trafficking investigations through the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR Program), which includes data from participating jurisdictions of all 50 states.  In 2021, participating jurisdictions reported 1,548 sex trafficking incidents and 294 labor trafficking incidents.  Not all agencies within all states have reported human trafficking data to the UCR Program.  There was no formal mechanism for the federal government to systematically track prosecutions at the state, local, and tribal levels.  

Advocates maintained that trafficking victims continued to be arrested, charged, and convicted at the state and local levels for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, such as drug trafficking, identity theft, and credit card fraud.  According to these advocates, officials within the criminal justice system failed to identify as human trafficking victims individuals who had been arrested.  In a national survey released in January 2023 that was conducted among 457 survivors who had experienced human trafficking prior to the reporting period, 62 percent stated they had been cited, arrested, or detained by law enforcement at least once, and among those who were cited, arrested, or detained, 71 percent had or have a criminal record as a result.  Ninety percent of those who had a criminal record reported a portion or all of their criminal records were related to unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.  Advocates also noted instances where state and local prosecutors threatened to charge victims if they did not assist with the prosecution of traffickers.  

An NGO-funded project reported 48 states – the same number as at the end of the previous reporting period – had laws allowing survivors to seek a court order vacating, expunging, or sealing criminal convictions entered against them that resulted from unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.  In three of these states, however, such relief was only available to child trafficking victims.  Advocates continued to call for the adoption of federal vacatur legislation, including provisions that would mandate data collection of state law charges and outcomes to better understand why survivors are being denied relief under state vacatur laws and to exempt survivors from paying associated fees to pursue vacatur.  Moreover, advocates noted the current patchwork of state laws and the inconsistency among them meant survivors’ ability to defend themselves against charges or to clear their records from unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked depended on where they lived.  One NGO study found that 77 percent of respondents with a criminal record needed assistance to clear their criminal records.  That NGO called upon states to amend statutes to remove fee requirements for trafficking victims seeking criminal record relief, citing this as an undue financial burden, and called upon these states to return fees and fines already paid.  One advocate noted a lack of data on the number of vacatur proceedings in the United States.  

According to one NGO, 28 states and the District of Columbia had laws that prohibited the prosecution of child trafficking victims for commercial sex, 10 of which also prohibited arresting, detaining, and charging them with criminal charges relating to commercial sex.  That NGO noted only 17 states had laws that prohibited the prosecution of child sex trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked and at least 32 states formally recognized all child sex trafficking victims as such, regardless of whether or not there was third-party control, the same as at the end of the previous reporting period.  Advocates called for states that had protections for victim witnesses to improve access to those protections and called for all states to provide victim witnesses with the alternatives to in-court testimony.  

There were reports of government personnel complicit in human trafficking crimes, and the government took action to increase its ability to hold such personnel accountable in some cases.  Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, an international organization reported there was one new allegation of sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by a U.S. peacekeeper deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2022.  After a non-judicial disciplinary process, the United States substantiated the allegation.  Punishment imposed included the forfeiture of two months’ pay and a written reprimand that may preclude promotion and will be an adverse factor in determining the service member’s final retirement rank.  Advocates reported instances of state and local law enforcement officers sexually abusing, assaulting, or extorting identified or potential sex trafficking victims in the course of conducting criminal investigations, in some cases promising not to arrest them in exchange for sex acts.  An internal DHS investigation confirmed that certain law enforcement officers violated DHS policy by engaging in sexual acts with known or suspected victims of sex trafficking in the course of conducting criminal investigations.  A federal criminal investigation into the incident involving federal law enforcement officers remained ongoing.  

Domestically, the U.S. government continued to build the capacity of law enforcement, judges, military personnel, and labor inspectors, among others, to respond more effectively to human trafficking cases through trainings and workshops.  

Advocates again called for increased training across all criminal justice system sectors, including law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges, to improve their trauma-informed approaches in working with human trafficking victims and survivors, broaden the scope of their training to include considerations for how to engage survivors who are U.S. citizens and noncitizens of all ages and gender identities, and improve their understanding of the kinds of evidence that lead to successful investigations of labor trafficking.  In addition, advocates again called for increased and improved training of investigators, prosecutors, and judges on mandatory restitution.  Advocates highlighted, in particular, that training provided to judges should include training on laws that prohibit the prosecution of child trafficking victims, laws that permit criminal record relief, and the availability of affirmative defense options in certain states.  

The government increased overall protection efforts.  The government continued to identify trafficking victims and fund trafficking-specific services.  Certain federal agencies used formal procedures to identify victims and refer them to service providers.  DHS and DOJ continued efforts to establish law enforcement screening protocols to identify human trafficking victims, as required by law.  Federally funded trafficking-specific services, primarily through DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), served foreign national and domestic trafficking victims and included case management, mental health and medical care, substance use treatment, housing and shelter, translation and interpretation services, legal services, employment training and job placement services, transportation assistance, and financial assistance.  DOJ and HHS record-keeping systems did not allow for cross-referencing to determine which victims were served by grantees of both agencies.  

During FY 2022, DOJ provided about $67 million for 82 awards to support human trafficking victim assistance programs for domestic and foreign national victims across the United States, compared with $60 million for 85 awards in FY 2021.  Specific programs included $16.4 million for housing assistance awards; $32.6 million for 43 victim service awards addressing a broad range of case management and specialized service needs; $1.3 million for services to support child labor trafficking victims; $6.3 million to address the criminalization of child sex trafficking victims; nearly $5.5 million to improve outcomes for child victims; $1.6 million for human trafficking research and evaluation to better understand, prevent, and respond to trafficking in persons, focusing on projects that will affect U.S. criminal justice policy and practice; and $3.1 million for training and technical assistance to improve identification of and assistance to trafficking victims nationwide, including development of anti-trafficking standards of care for victim service providers in partnership with HHS.  As DOJ continued to transition its performance management systems for grantees during the reporting period, comprehensive data from grantees on the total number of clients served in FY 2022 were unavailable again this year.  A subset of DOJ anti-trafficking grantees reported 16,390 open trafficking client cases from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, a significant increase from the same subset reporting 10,070 open client cases the previous year.  Of these cases, 5,418 were new clients, compared with 5,931 new clients reported the previous year.  DOJ’s grantees reported 63 percent of clients served were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, 31 percent were foreign nationals, and the status of six percent was unknown.  Grantees reported 62 percent of clients served were victims of sex trafficking, 21 percent were victims of labor trafficking, eight percent were identified as victims of both sex and labor trafficking, and the form of trafficking for nine percent was unspecified.  

During FY 2022, HHS provided about $18 million for services to domestic and foreign national victims of human trafficking.  To provide more specialized services, HHS newly separated its program for foreign national victims of human trafficking into two programs – one serving child victims of human trafficking and the other serving adult victims – and instituted a regional approach to facilitate victim identification and service provision.  HHS awarded more than $10 million in new funding for the provision of case management services to foreign national victims to one NGO that contracted with a nationwide network of NGO sub-recipients, compared with $2 million in FY 2021 and $5.4 million in FY 2020.  Through this program, HHS served 4,023 individuals, including 2,527 victims of trafficking and 1,496 qualified family members in 38 states and the District of Columbia, a significant increase from 3,461 individuals served the previous fiscal year.  Of the individuals served, 62 percent were victims of labor trafficking, 20 percent were victims of sex trafficking, 12 percent were identified as victims of both sex and labor trafficking, and the form of trafficking for six percent was unknown.  For the provision of case management services to domestic victims of human trafficking, HHS awarded more than $7 million, compared with $5.3 million in FY 2021 and $5.4 million in FY 2020, to 18 grantees that served 1,237 trafficking victims in 15 states through collaborative partnerships with 32 service providers, an increase from 829 individuals served in 15 states the previous year.  HHS’s grantees in its victim assistance program for domestic victims of human trafficking reported 93 percent of individuals served were victims of sex trafficking, one percent were victims of labor trafficking, three percent were identified as victims of both sex and labor trafficking, and three percent with the form of trafficking unspecified.  

The government implemented a new law to prohibit consumer reporting agencies from including adverse information from a trafficking victim’s history that resulted from their trafficking to increase survivors’ access to employment, housing, and credit and to support long-term financial independence and stability.  The government issued guidance on a process for victims to provide appropriate documentation and block such information from appearing on their credit reports.  

Advocates applauded the government’s prompt implementation of the new law, stating it provided increased access to economic opportunities, but noted that the lack of resources to assist individuals with providing the required documentation created barriers to seeking protection under the new law.  Advocates noted funding for victim services remained inadequate to cover the high cost of providing services and the increased demand for services.  Some federally funded services and organizations’ programs continued to focus on time-limited and immediate crisis intervention rather than long-term, holistic care.  Emergency, transitional, and longer-term housing options for trafficking survivors were limited, as demand and costs increased, exacerbating preexisting housing constraints.  NGOs called attention to the need to increase availability of affordable, long-term stable housing in safe areas to reduce survivors’ vulnerability to re-trafficking.  In addition to this lack of availability, common barriers included a lack of identity documents or immigration status, debt, poor credit history, and lack of federal financial assistance for rent and other housing expenses.  According to a national survey of survivors, a majority of survivors who responded faced significant livelihood challenges after exiting their trafficking situation, frequently working for an employer that did not provide benefits, such as healthcare, and were unable to earn a living wage despite often working multiple jobs.  Advocates called for increased access to childcare; food; affordable housing; comprehensive health care, including reproductive care and mental health services; education; and economic empowerment opportunities for survivors.  Advocates again called for Congress to remove or suspend the legislative requirement for some federal programs that grantees match 25 percent of the total award, since the COVID-19 pandemic limited grantees’ fundraising capabilities and volunteer workforces, whose time can be included as part of the match to help meet this matching requirement.  

Advocates called for the government to compensate and engage survivors in all aspects of anti-trafficking programming and policy and to act on survivor input.  In addition, advocates called for the government to continue efforts to establish minimum standards of care for human trafficking survivors that all federal victim services grantees would be required to meet to increase oversight of grantees.  

Federal resources or specialized services continued to be insufficient for labor trafficking survivors, boys and men, LGBTQI+ persons, survivors struggling with substance use issues, persons with limited English proficiency, persons with disabilities, individuals without immigration status, American Indian and Alaska Natives, children aging out of services, and those who did not wish to participate in the criminal justice system.  Advocates called for the government to provide trauma-informed, culturally competent, non-discriminatory, and victim-centered services tailored to the needs of victims and their dependent family members.  Advocates called for amendments to federal legislation to require state child welfare agencies to address child labor trafficking and better identify and support child labor trafficking victims, in addition to focusing on children who have experienced or are at increased risk of experiencing sex trafficking.  Advocates called for the government to provide technical assistance to service providers to improve their ability to assess survivors for disabilities they had prior to their trafficking or that resulted from their trafficking and to ensure services are fully accessible to those with disabilities, regardless of immigration status.  Survivors with criminal records resulting from unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked were still often excluded from employment, housing, and higher education; ineligible for government programs and immigration relief; required to register as sex offenders; at risk of losing custody of their children; and facing other difficulties meeting needs essential to their safety and recovery.  Advocates reported these survivors faced challenges accessing pro bono or affordable legal assistance to clear their criminal records and struggled to pay fines and fees associated with the vacatur process.  To assist survivors in clearing their criminal records, advocates recommended the government increase funding for and access to pro bono legal services.  

As part of HHS’s assistance to foreign national victims, HHS provides Certification Letters to foreign national adult victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons, which enables them to apply for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, after DHS grants Continued Presence or when a victim has a bona fide or approved application for T nonimmigrant status, as described further below.  HHS also provides Eligibility or Interim Assistance Letters to foreign national children, which enables them to apply for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, upon receipt of credible information the child is or may be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons under the TVPA.  HHS issued 731 Certification Letters to foreign national adults in FY 2022, an increase from 527 in FY 2021 and 508 in FY 2020.  Of the 731 foreign national adults certified in FY 2022, 11 percent were sex trafficking victims, 73 percent were labor trafficking victims, 14 percent were victims of both sex and labor trafficking, and two percent with the form of trafficking in persons unspecified to HHS.  HHS issued 2,264 Eligibility Letters to foreign national children in FY 2022, a significant increase from 1,143 in FY 2021 and 672 in FY 2020.  (The FY 2021 number of Eligibility Letters issued (1,143) represents a correction to the number cited last year (1,200), and the FY 2020 number (672) represents a correction to the number cited last year (673).)  Of the 2,264 foreign national children certified in FY 2022, 23 percent experienced sex trafficking, 73 percent experienced labor trafficking, and four percent experienced both labor and sex trafficking.  Foreign national children currently in the United States who are identified as survivors of trafficking and receive an Eligibility Letter may also be eligible to participate in HHS’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program.  This program requires states to provide such child victims with the same range of assistance, care, and services available to children in that state’s domestic foster care.  The program also requires states to provide additional supports to address the unique needs of foreign national children.  In FY 2022, the program served 462 child trafficking victims, including 123 new enrollees, compared with 403 child trafficking victims that included 129 new enrollees in FY 2021.  (The FY 2021 number of child trafficking victims served (403) represents a correction to the number cited last year (399).)  

DHS provides immigration options specifically for survivors of trafficking through Continued Presence, a temporary immigration designation, and T nonimmigrant status, another temporary immigration benefit (commonly referred to as the “T visa”).  Both immigration options strengthen law enforcement’s ability to detect, investigate, or prosecute human trafficking by offering foreign national survivors temporary immigration relief.  Another immigration benefit available to survivors of certain qualifying crimes, including human trafficking, is U nonimmigrant status (commonly referred to as the “U visa”).  This status can be granted to survivors who are, have been, or are likely to be helpful in the detection, investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the qualifying criminal activity and meet other specific eligibility requirements.  DHS is unable to accurately track the number of approved petitions for U nonimmigrant status based on the specific underlying qualifying criminal activity, so it is unknown how many U nonimmigrant petitions were approved specifically for trafficking victims.  

To qualify for Continued Presence, law enforcement must identify an individual as a human trafficking victim who may be a potential witness in the investigation or prosecution of the trafficker.  DHS manages all requests from federal, state, and local law enforcement for Continued Presence, authorizing foreign nationals identified by law enforcement as trafficking victims who may be potential witnesses to lawfully remain and work in the United States during the investigation and prosecution of the crime for two years, renewable for up to two-year increments.  In FY 2022, DHS granted 298 initial Continued Presence requests and 36 extensions, compared with 247 initial grants and 57 extensions in FY 2021.  The median time to adjudicate Continued Presence applications was seven days, compared to more than 14 days in FY 2021, representing a 53 percent decrease.  

To qualify for T nonimmigrant status, an applicant must demonstrate that they (1) are a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons; (2) are physically present in the United States, its territories and outlying possessions, or at a U.S. port of entry on account of trafficking; (3) have complied with reasonable requests from law enforcement, unless they are younger than the age of 18 or unable to cooperate due to trauma suffered; and (4) would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal from the United States.  T nonimmigrant applicants may also apply for certain family members to receive derivative T nonimmigrant status, including certain extended family members who face a present danger of retaliation because of the principal applicant’s escape from trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement.  Individuals with T nonimmigrant status are authorized to work, and their derivative family members can apply for employment authorization.  Both are eligible to receive certain benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.  T nonimmigrant status is granted for a period of four years and may be extended under certain limited circumstances.  After three years, or upon the completion of the investigation or prosecution (whichever period of time is shorter), individuals with T nonimmigrant status may apply for lawful permanent resident status, if they meet certain requirements, and eventually for U.S. citizenship.  DHS granted T nonimmigrant status to 1,715 victims and 1,319 family members in FY 2022, a significant increase from 829 victims and 622 family members in FY 2021.  The median processing time for T nonimmigrant status applications was 12.9 months in FY 2022, a decrease from 18 months in FY 2021 and 18.6 months in FY 2020.  

To strengthen its ability to protect all workers, DOL expanded its authority to issue certifications in support of applications for U nonimmigrant status and T nonimmigrant status when the agency identifies qualifying criminal activities, including forced labor, during its workplace safety investigations.  

Advocates reported DOL’s expanded authority to issue certifications will increase victims’ access to U nonimmigrant status and T nonimmigrant status.  

Advocates again noted improvements in DHS trainings, policies, and public outreach on human trafficking and immigration relief available to victims.  Advocates again reported the administration’s actions to review, rescind, or not implement prior modifications to certain forms of humanitarian relief, as well as the re-establishment of stakeholder communication, improved transparency, and access to immigration protection.  

However, advocates again reported significant obstacles to obtaining T nonimmigrant status.  Lengthy T nonimmigrant status processing times added vulnerabilities for survivors who lacked legal status and employment authorization or whose time-limited support services expired.  Advocates again voiced concern that DHS generally does not conduct bona fide determinations for T nonimmigrant status applications, which could allow applicants to receive deferred action from removal and employment authorization while they await final adjudication of their application.  Advocates continued to report this has left trafficking victims in vulnerable situations, whether in immigration detention, unable to legally work, or at risk of removal, the latter of which would make them ineligible for T nonimmigrant status.  Advocates again called for DHS to improve training for adjudicators and incorporate input from survivors and other nongovernmental subject matter experts.  Advocates called for amendments to the law that requires survivors to cooperate with law enforcement to receive T nonimmigrant status, noting that fears of such cooperation leading to retaliation or deportation impacting victims or their families inhibited some victims from seeking the status.  

Advocates reported continued concern with the low number of Continued Presence requests made by law enforcement.  Advocates again called for targeted training of law enforcement for Continued Presence.   

DHS is required to screen certain individuals for human trafficking, including unaccompanied children and some detained individuals.  In the case of foreign national adults apprehended, interdicted, or in detention pending removal from the United States, DHS does not mandate screening of such individuals for trafficking indicators.  To enhance protections for unaccompanied children and combat child trafficking, DHS and HHS share responsibility for the processing, treatment, and placement of unaccompanied children.  This includes a screening by DHS within 48 hours of apprehension, transfer of certain unaccompanied children to HHS custody within 72 hours, and prompt placement by HHS in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child.  When foreign national children are placed in the care and custody of HHS, they are screened for human trafficking.  HHS assesses the safety of sponsor placements for unaccompanied children prior to their release from the government’s custody and provides post-release case management services to certain unaccompanied children to promote their safety and well-being.  The TVPA also requires every federal, state, and local official to refer any potential concerns of human trafficking on behalf of a foreign national child to HHS within 24 hours to assess whether the child is eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee.  

The government continued to implement a public health order under Title 42 of the U.S. Code that authorized the government to suspend the introduction of certain migrants arriving to the northern and southwest border who would otherwise be introduced into a congregate setting.  Separately, in August 2022, DHS terminated its policy to return to Mexico certain foreign nationals who arrived by land while their U.S. removal proceedings were pending.  While implementing this policy, the government did not screen for trafficking among the individuals it returned to Mexico.  

Advocates expressed concern about the long-term, cumulative effects on trafficking survivors of prior immigration enforcement policies, as well as the government’s implementation of Title 42 and its policy to return potential asylum-seekers to Mexico while their cases were pending.  They called on the government to conduct human trafficking screening for all migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.  They again noted that the implementation of Title 42 and the policy to return potential asylum seekers to Mexico while their cases were pending left migrants at higher risk of human trafficking and without access to legal protections called for by U.S. and international law.  NGOs noted concern about the heightened risk of human trafficking for individuals forced to return to Mexico and find shelter in unsecured and unsanitary temporary camps, where they were often targeted by gangs and other criminals while awaiting asylum interviews.  NGOs and media reported that individuals, including unaccompanied children, seeking alternative pathways to safety in the United States, such as by paying migrant smugglers, were at heightened risk of human trafficking – particularly forced labor – as well as other forms of labor exploitation.  Advocates and news outlets voiced concerns about the risk of labor trafficking and labor exploitation among unaccompanied children in U.S.-based worksites and noted the government was not doing enough to protect unaccompanied children from trafficking and exploitation.  Their concerns focused on sponsor vetting procedures during emergency operations and the services and follow-up children and sponsors receive from HHS upon release.  Advocates urged the government to increase efforts to identify and respond to child labor trafficking to the same extent as child sex trafficking.  Advocates also continued to report foreign national victims remained in trafficking situations because they were afraid to report their cases to law enforcement, pursue immigration options, or seek services.  Advocates continued to report that though the TVPA requires trafficking screening and the provision of age-appropriate services and protections, the government failed to fully implement these protections and provide comprehensive legal and social services to unaccompanied children released from HHS custody.  Advocates continued to recommend HHS provide services, such as case management and legal representation, to all unaccompanied children upon their release from its custody to better support them with rebuilding their life in a new country and subsequently decrease their vulnerability to human trafficking.  Advocates called on the federal government to develop congressionally mandated victim screening protocols, in coordination with survivors and service providers, and implement screening throughout the juvenile justice, immigration, criminal justice, and child welfare systems.  

The U.S. government continued to provide training, both directly and through NGO partnerships, for federal, state, local, and tribal officials, as well as for NGO service providers and health and human service providers, to encourage more consistent application of victim-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive approaches in all phases of victim identification, assistance, service delivery, and participation in the criminal justice process.  HHS created resources to help state agencies and local service providers develop protocols to screen for children who have experienced or are at increased risk of human trafficking, particularly those returning to foster care after going missing, and connect them to services.

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking.  The government continued to implement a comprehensive three-year NAP to combat human trafficking.  The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons continued to report on agency accomplishments and future efforts and again invited a member of the presidentially appointed survivor advisory council to join its meeting to provide survivor perspectives and expertise.  In FY 2022, Congress made available $106.4 million in foreign assistance resources to State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support international anti-trafficking initiatives in countries in every region of the world.  

HHS continued to fund an NGO to operate the national human trafficking hotline.  In FY 2022, the hotline received more than 55,000 signals, including calls, texts, chats, online tips, and emails that were substantive in nature (i.e., excluding hang-ups, wrong numbers, missed signals, and signals in which the hotline could not determine the signaler’s reason for calling); identified 10,013 potential human trafficking cases involving 16,775 potential victims; and provided 10,059 referrals for services and reported 2,153 cases to law enforcement.  More than 10,000 signals came from individuals who identified themselves as potential victims of trafficking seeking help.  The government operated other tip lines that received calls or messages related to suspected human trafficking cases.  

The government continued public outreach measures on the causes and consequences of human trafficking and continued to seek and incorporate survivors’ expertise into policies and programs.  Agencies provided funding, materials, and trainings related to human trafficking – including on trauma-informed and victim-centered approaches – to federal grantees, school communities, public health providers, child welfare system staff, public and private sector transportation stakeholders, private sector industry professionals, and federal government acquisitions personnel, among others.  

Advocates urged the government to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-trafficking outreach efforts and enhance awareness campaigns to better educate people of their rights, including when engaging with law enforcement.  Advocates called on the government to evaluate its human trafficking trainings and educational materials to make sure they are survivor-informed, tailored to the industry of those being trained, and designed to increase awareness among law enforcement and social service providers so they are better equipped to accurately identify and assist trafficking victims without causing them harm.  Advocates noted the lack of prevalence data remained a barrier to effective anti-trafficking prevention efforts and that the government did not publish a report on prevalence in the United States as required by law; they called for the government to fund and implement local and national prevalence studies, in collaboration with anti-trafficking NGOs and survivors, to increase understanding of the nature and scope of human trafficking and better target anti-trafficking prevention efforts.  

Advocates continued to call for the government to prioritize a more comprehensive and proactive approach to address the factors and conditions – including those created by government policies or structures like the criminal justice system, immigration system, housing, and healthcare – that increase vulnerabilities to human trafficking.  Advocates again called for the government to further examine racism, discrimination, and poverty as root causes.  Many workers in domestic work and agricultural sectors remained specifically excluded from certain worker protections under federal law.  These exclusions, combined with the heightened isolation, economic uncertainty, and health risks due to ongoing adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased their risk of human trafficking.  

DOL, DHS, and State screen and approve employers and workers for temporary foreign worker programs to ensure compliance with program requirements, including worker protections.  To reduce workers’ vulnerability to exploitation, including human trafficking, the United States bars employers participating in these programs and/or their agents from seeking or receiving payments from workers for any activities related to obtaining labor certification or employment.  In addition, the government can use the criminal statute that prohibits the use of fraud to recruit, solicit, or hire workers abroad to come to the United States to work to hold employers and their agents criminally responsible for abusive employment practices commonly associated with forced labor.  

In FY 2022, DOL conducted 16 and 185 audits of temporary labor certifications for H-2A and H-2B petitions, respectively.  DOL had not concluded all FY 2022 H-2B audits by the end of the reporting period, but 30 percent of the concluded audits resulted in an action against the employer, such as a warning, supervised recruitment, or program debarment.  Of the 16 H-2A audits conducted in FY 2022, 10 resulted in warnings being issued.  DOJ initiated four prosecutions for fraud in foreign labor contracting in FY 2022.  For the second year in a row, State extended its interview waiver authorization for certain first-time H-2 visa applicants, which again reduced the government’s ability to verbally provide applicants with information about their rights and to detect potential cases of fraud that increase applicants’ vulnerability to human trafficking.  The government continued to expand access to legal migration pathways, including the H-2 visa program, particularly in North and Central America and the Caribbean.  USAID continued to support the governments in northern Central America to increase their ability to recruit potential H-2 workers, connect with U.S. businesses, and facilitate the completion and submission of H-2 visa applications.  The government issued H-2 visas to 19,053 northern Central American applicants in FY 2022, compared to 9,797 H-2 visas the year before.  Applications for 6,298 of those visa holders were facilitated through USAID technical assistance to the northern Central American governments, part of USAID’s efforts to help ensure ethical and transparent recruitment of temporary foreign workers – up from 1,776 the previous year.  The remainder of the applications were submitted by private recruiters.  The government signed an agreement with the government of Mexico to increase coordination on labor mobility and the protection of participants in temporary foreign worker programs and launched a task force focused on H-2B worker protections to address issues within the H-2B program, including threats to program integrity and H-2B workers’ fundamental vulnerabilities.  The government issued guidance on fair recruitment practices for temporary migrant workers aimed at increasing transparency and regulation of H-2 worker recruitment programs and protecting workers’ rights.  The government announced a $65 million Department of Agriculture pilot grant program to address labor shortages, reduce irregular migration through the expansion of legal pathways, and improve working conditions for U.S. and H-2A workers, including preventing H-2A workers from being subjected to unfair recruitment practices, among other priorities.  

Oversight of temporary worker and other nonimmigrant visa programs remained weak, and structural conditions embedded in some of these programs continued to enable human traffickers – employers, labor contractors, or agents – to maintain control of workers.  Advocates again stated the administration’s expansion of the H-2 visa program without having first comprehensively addressed insufficient oversight and the longstanding structural weaknesses of it placed workers at greater risk to human trafficking.  An NGO report found that between 2018 and 2020, the national human trafficking hotline identified 3,694 potential victims of labor trafficking in the United States on an H-2 worker visa.  Another NGO report that analyzed 225,227 DOL investigations in seven major H-2B industries found more than 80 percent of those investigations uncovered labor violations such as wage theft.  Advocates continued to call for legal and regulatory changes to uncouple temporary employment visas from an employer or sponsor.  NGOs again recommended the government develop a more comprehensive public database with real-time information in multiple languages to enable workers to verify the existence of a job, find and apply for jobs directly, and access information about the job and their rights.  NGOs stated DOL’s screening process of potential H-2 employers was inadequate and called for DOL to implement a more thorough evaluation of all potential employers to uncover any prior violations of labor, civil rights, or anti-discrimination laws and for DOL to debar employers with a record of such violations from hiring through the H-2 program.  One NGO shared it received reports from H-2B workers that they did not receive the “Know Your Rights” pamphlet and recruiters received workers’ passports from the U.S. government and removed the pamphlet before workers could read it.  NGOs called on State to reduce its use of interview waivers for nonimmigrant visa applicants and urged the government to partner with nonprofits to distribute the “Know Your Rights” pamphlet and other materials to internationally-recruited workers before their arrival in the United States.  Advocates called for the government to protect workers who report abuse by employers from retaliation or harm, including the loss of a job for the season.  

Formal and informal recruiters, labor contractors, and agents continued to charge workers prohibited fees, and the government’s enforcement of the ban on worker-paid recruitment fees and other prohibited practices meant to prevent workers from experiencing situations of heightened risk to human trafficking remained weak.  The government reported structural barriers to enforcement throughout the recruitment chain, including the fact that international recruiters are not within the jurisdiction of U.S. law.  NGOs urged the government to impose a legal standard of strict liability for H-2 employers for all illegal fees and costs charged to their workers throughout their recruitment chain.  NGOs again called for the government to increase transparency of the recruitment process, prioritize holding accountable employers and farm labor contractors, as well as their agents who have exploited workers and violated visa program regulations, and pass federal legislation to regulate foreign labor recruitment, including through the creation of a public registry of certified labor recruiters.  

State continued its oversight of educational and cultural exchange programs under the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP, commonly referred to as the “J-1 visa”), some of which have a work component, and monitored exchange visitors to help safeguard their health, safety, and welfare and to identify and investigate program fraud and abuse.  State conducted outreach to raise program sponsors’ awareness of their administrative oversight and reporting obligations to State and began disseminating a pamphlet to educate all newly arriving exchange visitors of their rights.  In 2022, State increased monitoring and engagement with both sponsors and exchange visitors, including surveying nearly 45,000 exchange visitors to monitor their health, safety, and welfare.  It continued to liaise and collaborate with law enforcement on criminal investigations relating to the EVP and continued to sanction sponsors that violated EVP regulations throughout the reporting period, none of which were for trafficking or trafficking-related crimes in 2022.  

An NGO report found that between 2018 and 2020, the national human trafficking hotline identified 184 potential victims of labor trafficking in the EVP.  Based on this report, NGOs continued to report the need for additional steps to reduce the risks of exploitation in some EVP categories, noting concerns with fraudulent recruitment practices, contract violations, threats of deportation, and inadequate housing conditions.  

State and the U.S. Mission to the UN continued to implement their respective domestic worker in-person registration programs for A-3 and G-5 visa holders employed by foreign mission and international organization personnel in the United States.  With COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the programs returned to in-person operations and State began expanding its coverage to require in-person interviews of domestic workers across the United States.  In October 2022, DOJ indicted a Kuwaiti diplomat posted to the Permanent Mission of the State of Kuwait to the UN in New York and his wife for forced labor and related crimes involving three domestic workers.  In March 2023, State suspended for one year the A-3 and G-5 visa sponsorship privileges afforded to Morocco mission members because the government declined to waive diplomatic immunity for U.S. criminal proceedings related to human trafficking and serious mistreatment of domestic workers and has not initiated its own prosecution.  

An NGO urged State to better enforce protections of A-3 and G-5 visa holders and to end impunity of traffickers, including by suspending A-3 and G-5 visa sponsorship privileges for countries whose diplomats committed human trafficking crimes and where restitution to victims remained unpaid. 

Lawsuits filed by current and former noncitizens in civil immigration detention in Colorado, Georgia, Texas, and California remained pending and one new lawsuit was filed in California against privately owned and operated immigration detention facilities contracted by DHS.  These lawsuits allege the contractors forced noncitizens to work in violation of the TVPA during their federal detention.  DHS is not party to the lawsuits, nor are any of its component agencies.  

Advocates again asserted labor by individuals in immigration detention and prisons perpetuates slavery and its legacy of racial injustice.  They continued to call for the government to end its use of labor in immigrant detention facilities, whether government-operated or operated through contracts with private entities, as these detained individuals have not been convicted of a crime.  They continued to call on the government to close all privately run immigration detention facilities and amend the U.S. Constitution to eliminate the exception to the Thirteenth Amendment that allows for slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for those convicted of a crime.  

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, including complaints or investigations related to temporary foreign worker programs.  Where appropriate, DOL refers these cases for criminal investigation.  In FY 2022, DOL continued such enforcement activities in industries including agriculture, construction, food services, direct care services, and warehouse and logistics.  In FY 2022, DOL worked with criminal law enforcement agencies in 22 trafficking cases by making referrals, receiving referrals for investigation, and assisting with the computation of restitution for victims.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal employment discrimination statutes and continued to investigate civil employment discrimination charges filed by or on behalf of victims of trafficking and seek compensation where evidence of discrimination was found.  At the conclusion of the investigation, the EEOC has the authority to file lawsuits to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public; it litigates a small percentage of the charges it investigates.  In FY 2022, the EEOC received three new charges of discrimination linked to human trafficking, compared to 15 in FY 2021.  For the seven charges of discrimination the EEOC resolved in FY 2022, the EEOC recovered over $191,000 in monetary benefits, compared to $6,750 in monetary benefits it recovered in resolution of charges in FY 2021.  As of September 30, 2022, the EEOC had 10 pending charges linked to human trafficking.  

Advocates again called for expanded authorities and additional resources to be allocated to DOL and the EEOC to enhance efforts to address labor trafficking cases and to ensure labor violations are thoroughly investigated. 

The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, including by prosecuting individuals for purchasing or attempting to purchase commercial sex acts involving children.  DHS conducted operations targeting online platforms used by sex traffickers to disrupt and dismantle their operations and to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.  The government’s ad hoc working group on demand reduction examined how the role of demand for inexpensive labor in direct care services has resulted in labor trafficking.  The government provided anti-trafficking training to its diplomats.  The government also provided anti-trafficking training to its troops prior to their deployment as peacekeepers; however, an international organization reported there was one new allegation of sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by a U.S. peacekeeper deployed to a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2022.  

Advocates called for greater efforts to address demand for all forms of human trafficking.  Advocates urged the government to ensure stakeholder engagement on demand reduction is trauma-informed, is survivor-informed, and prioritizes the inclusion of diverse experiences and voices.  

The government made efforts to reduce the demand for participation in extraterritorial sexual exploitation and abuse (commonly referred to as “international sex tourism”) by its citizens, including by proactively investigating allegations of child sexual exploitation crimes perpetrated overseas by U.S. citizens and partnering with foreign law enforcement counterparts to share information regarding international travel of registered child sex offenders.  Nine defendants were federally convicted in FY 2022 of engaging in extraterritorial child sexual exploitation and abuse, compared to four in FY 2021.  Offenders who abuse children abroad may have been prosecuted under other statutes, which are not reflected in this statistic.  

DOJ and other federal law enforcement agencies did not receive any allegations of forced labor or recruitment fees charged to third-country nationals working on certain U.S. government contracts abroad.  DOJ did not initiate any federal criminal prosecutions of employers or labor contractors for such violations in FY 2022.  

The U.S. Congress passed a law to strengthen enforcement of U.S. government contract regulations on human trafficking by requiring agencies to refer reports of violations of the anti-trafficking regulations within contracts or grants to the agency’s suspension and debarment official.  The Office of Management and Budget worked with agencies to identify 56 categories of services that may be at heightened risk of trafficking in persons.  The government held a public meeting to provide resources and information on preventing human trafficking in global supply chains and public procurement.  As of May 2022, the government fulfilled its requirement for key agencies to designate a senior accountable official to enhance effective implementation of anti-trafficking acquisition rules and best practices.  During FY 2022, DHS did not debar any entities from conducting business with the federal government and referred one individual for prosecution for engaging in human trafficking; DoD debarred one individual from conducting business with the federal government for violating contracting prohibitions related to human trafficking.  

Media reports alleged labor trafficking of foreign workers by U.S. government contractors on U.S. military bases overseas.  The reports raised concerns that private defense contractors and subcontractors confiscated foreign workers’ identity documents, charged illegal recruitment fees, and violated contracts.  These reports called for enhanced transparency and oversight of federal defense contracts, including making publicly available the names of contractors with substantiated trafficking violations, and alleged that at least 10 companies with past trafficking violations continued to receive U.S. government contracts.  

The government increased efforts to prevent human trafficking in U.S. private sector supply chains.  DHS continued to enforce the law that prohibits the importation of goods mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, under forced labor conditions, including forced child labor.  DHS received 29 allegations and issued two Withhold Release Orders and zero findings for shipments of goods where information reasonably indicated that merchandise within the purview of Title 19 U.S. Code section 1307 is being, or is likely to be, imported into the United States.  This resulted in the identification of 917 shipments valued at over $110 million for forced labor enforcement actions or review, compared with 42 allegations and one finding resulting in the detention of 1,469 shipments worth approximately $486 million for the previous reporting period.  DHS modified two Withhold Release Orders and one finding after determining the companies remediated concerns about the use of forced labor.  DHS did not collect any civil penalties for violations of U.S. trade law regarding goods produced with forced labor.  

The government increased efforts to prevent U.S. businesses and consumers from interacting with or purchasing from entities engaged in forced labor and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China and beyond, including by imposing export and import controls and issuing sanctions against officials and entities.  In accordance with the law, the government began implementing a strategy to prevent goods made with Uyghur and other minorities’ forced labor in the People’s Republic of China from entering U.S. markets.  In June 2022, DHS began implementation of a rebuttable presumption that all goods manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or identified on a public list are the product of forced labor and not entitled to entry at U.S. ports of entry.  DHS stopped 3,581 shipments valued at more than $1.08 billion under the law.  

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative established a committee focused on combating forced labor and child labor in traded goods and services to inform a trade strategy to combat forced labor.  DOL updated its online tools to add additional best practices for companies and industry groups to identify risks of forced labor in their supply chains and new data related to which U.S. imports may be at higher risk for being made with child labor, forced labor, or forced child labor.  HHS launched a public-private working group composed of stakeholders across the healthcare and public health sectors and published guidance on addressing forced labor in healthcare and public health supply chains.  The Department of Commerce launched a public-private partnership to facilitate efforts to prevent forced labor and other labor abuses across the seafood supply chain.  To address child labor violations in the United States, particularly of unaccompanied children referred to HHS’s care and custody, DOL and HHS launched an interagency task force to combat child labor exploitation and announced a series of actions to enhance efforts to vet sponsors of unaccompanied children, provide additional follow-up and case management services post-release, investigate child labor violations, and hold companies accountable for violating U.S. child labor laws.  HHS and DOL also entered into an agreement to address the need for increased information sharing, coordination, training, and education.  

Advocates called on the government to dedicate additional resources to evaluating U.S. supply chains for forced labor, including forced child labor, to encourage companies to implement transparency measures and hold companies accountable.  


The government convened a trilateral meeting with the governments of Mexico and Canada, and with Indigenous women leaders from all three countries, on violence against Indigenous women and girls, including human trafficking.  The three countries issued a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to advance prevention efforts and the responses of their justice, health, education, and child welfare systems to gender-based violence, including human trafficking, in Indigenous communities; increase support for survivors to access justice; and enhance regional coordination efforts to better address the root causes that increase vulnerability.  DHS created an Indigenous languages plan following consultations with Indigenous migrant community leaders that includes recommendations on how DHS can improve language access for Indigenous migrants served by DHS programs, activities, and operations.  To better respond to cases of missing or murdered Indigenous people, HHS expanded its national human trafficking hotline outreach to providers with trauma-informed training and culturally and linguistically appropriate competencies for inclusion in the hotline referral directory.  In FY 2022, HHS delivered specialized training and technical assistance to behavioral health and substance use treatment providers serving eight federally recognized tribes and one Native American community on how to build their organizational capacity to identify, treat, and respond to human trafficking and its intersection with co-occurring mental health disorders.  The Department of the Interior provided training on human trafficking in tribal communities to tribal law enforcement, government personnel, and members of the public.  In FY 2022, HHS again funded a grant program to strengthen the response to victims of human trafficking and to provide comprehensive case management services for Indigenous survivors of human trafficking in Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin.  HHS continued to deliver online training and technical assistance to health care and social service providers serving American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders regarding human trafficking, its impact, and how to build culturally responsive, trauma-informed responses.  In FY 2022, DOJ awarded more than $28 million to tribal governments under its program to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking and awarded more than $1.5 million to tribal governments to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction.  DOJ awarded $2.95 million to increase victim-centered services available to assist tribal victims of human trafficking in urban areas.  

Advocates again expressed concern that the government did not comprehensively address human trafficking within American Indian and Alaska Native communities.  Advocates again recommended increased investment and support in these communities, including trauma-informed cultural humility training for service providers, law enforcement, and court systems, and more culturally appropriate and community-specific support and services.  


Trafficking in persons occurs 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, DHS continued to engage with community partners to provide victim services, train law enforcement, and share strategies for improving victim identification.  DOJ 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.  DOJ and DHS continued to participate, along with local authorities in Puerto Rico, in the crimes against children task force.  In Puerto Rico, DHS engaged with federal, state, and local partners to combat sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors as well as the prevalence of online child sexual abuse material, including providing trainings on these topics.  

HHS coordinated services and made referrals for foreign national victims of trafficking identified in CNMI, Puerto Rico, USVI, and other U.S. territories.  Two DOJ grantees provided comprehensive and legal services to victims of all forms of trafficking in the Northern Mariana Islands, and DOJ funded an ECM anti-trafficking task force in Guam.  HHS delivered training of trainers and follow-on technical assistance in response to needs identified by Indigenous Pacific Islander community leaders, including in Guam and CNMI, to strengthen anti-trafficking responses in the Pacific region.  

As part of the prosecution statistics previously mentioned, DOJ filed one new human trafficking case in Puerto Rico, and convicted one defendant in Puerto Rico and one defendant in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign national victims in the United States as well as victims from the United States abroad.  Human trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. insular areas.  Individuals who entered the United States with and without legal status have been identified as trafficking victims.  Victims originate from almost every region of the world; the top three countries of origin of victims identified by federally funded providers in FY 2022 were the United States, Mexico, and Honduras.  Human trafficking patterns in the United States continued to reflect the living legacy of the systemic racism and colonization globalized during the transatlantic slave trade through chattel slavery and regional practices of Indigenous dispossession.  Traffickers often target those who experience compounding forms of discrimination (such as discrimination because of one’s racial or ethnic group, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation), violence (such as intimate partner or domestic violence), or who interact with government-run programs (such as the criminal justice system, runaway and homeless youth services, foster or institutional care,  and the immigration enforcement system).  Traffickers compel victims to engage in commercial sex and to work in both legal and illicit industries and sectors, including in hospitality, traveling sales crews, agriculture, janitorial services, construction, landscaping, restaurants, factories and manufacturing, direct care services, salon services, massage parlors, retail, fairs and carnivals, peddling and begging, drug smuggling and distribution, religious institutions, and domestic work.  Traffickers continued to use social media and other online platforms to recruit and advertise victims.  Some advocates reported an increased vulnerability to all forms of human trafficking as a result of climate change and climate-related disasters.  NGOs increasingly identified LGBTQI+ youth as a community with heightened vulnerability to human trafficking.  

U.S. Department of State

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