Combating human trafficking requires a comprehensive, multidisciplinary effort. Within government, this means the participation and coordination among agencies with a range of responsibilities that include criminal enforcement, labor enforcement, victim outreach and services, public awareness, education, trade policy, international development and programs, immigration, intelligence, and diplomacy. Coordinated federal efforts that incorporate state, local, and tribal entities, the private sector, civil society, survivors, religious communities, and academia are essential to an integrated response to human trafficking that leverages resources and amplifies results. In the United States, federal agencies work to ensure a whole-of-government approach to address all aspects of human trafficking.
The President’s Interagency Task Force
The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) is a cabinet-level entity created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, which consists of some 15 agencies across the federal government responsible for coordinating U.S. government-wide efforts to combat trafficking in persons.
Senior Policy Operating Group
The TVPA, as amended in 2003, established the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG), which consists of senior officials designated as representatives of the PITF agencies. The SPOG brings together federal agencies that address all aspects of human trafficking. Five standing committees meet regularly to advance substantive areas of the SPOG’s work: Research & Data, Grantmaking, Public Awareness & Outreach, Victims Services, and Procurement & Supply Chains.
Agencies of the PITF
The PITF incorporates the federal agencies listed below as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the White House Offices of Management and Budget, the National Security Council, and the Domestic Policy Council.
Department of State (DOS) engages with foreign governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, and civil society to develop and implement effective strategies for confronting modern slavery. DOS chairs the PITF and the SPOG, funds international anti-trafficking programs, and produces the annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
Department of the Treasury (Treasury) engages with financial institutions to analyze and disseminate information related to human trafficking.
Department of Defense (DOD) endeavors to ensure that the U.S. military, civilian employees, and contractors have the necessary tools for awareness and prevention of human trafficking, including through training, distribution of awareness materials, and development of policies and procedures to address vulnerabilities in defense contracts.
Department of Justice (DOJ) conducts human trafficking investigations and prosecutions and provides grant funding for victim services. DOJ supports anti-trafficking task forces; conducts trainings, research, and outreach initiatives; and produces the annual Attorney General’s Trafficking in Persons Report.
Department of the Interior (DOI) provides anti-trafficking training for personnel and partners with federal, state, local, and tribal entities to combat human trafficking and provide victim services in American Indian and Alaskan Native communities.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides anti-trafficking training for employees, inspectors, and industry partners to raise awareness of human trafficking in agriculture and rural areas in the United States.
Department of Labor (DOL) assists law enforcement partners in the identification of trafficking victims. In addition, DOL engages internationally with governments as well as business, labor, and civil society groups to implement models that work to reduce child labor and forced labor, and produces the following reports: Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor; List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor; and List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds victim assistance services programs and the National Human Trafficking Hotline, issues Certification and Eligibility Letters for foreign national victims of trafficking, provides training and technical assistance to local communities, and conducts public awareness campaigns and public health initiatives focused on human trafficking.
Department of Transportation (DOT) partners with other U.S. government agencies and transportation industry leaders across the country to train stakeholders, develop educational tools, and disseminate awareness materials focused on anti-trafficking initiatives.
Department of Education (ED) raises awareness of human trafficking in school communities; provides technical assistance; encourages schools to embed the issue in emergency operations and management planning; and works with federal, state, and local agencies to develop and disseminate resource materials.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducts domestic and international investigations of human trafficking, conducts public awareness campaigns through the Blue Campaign, provides education and training, grants immigration benefits to victims of human trafficking, and authorizes victims who are potential witnesses to remain in the United States temporarily during the investigation or prosecution of their traffickers.
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) uses U.S. trade policy, such as trade agreements, to combat labor trafficking by enforcing labor rights and raising worker protections.
Agency for International Development (USAID) funds international anti-trafficking programs; engages in innovative private sector partnerships; and integrates anti-trafficking activities across development sectors, applying research and evaluation and strengthening efforts in conflict and crisis-affected environments.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates, attempts to informally resolve, and litigates charges alleging discrimination and pursues cases on behalf of trafficked workers and secures civil remedies (e.g. monetary and equitable relief) for trafficking victims.
U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking
The U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking provides a formal platform for trafficking survivors to advise and make recommendations to the PITF on its federal anti-trafficking policies. The Council, established by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 and appointed by the President, is currently comprised of 11 survivors of human trafficking and submitted its first report in October 2016.