Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officials may encounter a potential victim of human trafficking during the course of their duties – during domestic disturbance calls; when responding to incidents at massage parlors, bars, and strip clubs; or even during routine traffic stops.

Recognizing key indicators can save a life. Review the indicators, as this is the first step in identifying potential victims. If you suspect that someone may be a victim of human trafficking, please reach out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) at 1-866-347-2423, or a human trafficking task force in your area to work collaboratively on an investigation or to report a tip. ICE HSI is responsible for investigating human trafficking and arresting traffickers. Please check with your own organization for any specific protocol you should follow to notify your supervisor and engage the proper local authorities.

Please visit our resources page to view law enforcement specific resources, including law enforcement specific training materials.

Law Enforcement Resources

blue campaign human trafficking campus law enforcement guideCampus Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officials: Human Trafficking Response Guide

Campus law enforcement and public safety officials are in a unique position to reach students considered vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking.

The purpose of this guide is to inform campus law enforcement and public safety officials about human trafficking, its indicators that may be present in campus environments, and how to implement a victim-centered approach when responding to suspected instances of the crime.


provides overview of indicators of human trafficking for campus law enforcementCampus Law Enforcement

Campus law enforcement and public safety officials are in a unique position to reach students considered vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking.

This pocket card is designed to be carried in a wallet, pocket, or glove compartment for quick reference in the field. It includes a list of common human trafficking indicators students may display, as well as a list of ways to incorporate a victim-centered approach to help develop trust with victims and ensure they feel safe.




provides immigration relief overviewImmigration Relief for Victims of Human Trafficking and Other Crimes

This two-page fact sheet informs law enforcement officials about immigration relief options for qualifying victims of human trafficking and other crimes through DHS (ICE and USCIS), including Continued Presence and U and T visas.

Available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, and Vietnamese.





A Victim-Centered Approach

DHS uses a victim-centered approach to combat human trafficking, which places equal value on the identification and stabilization of victims and providing immigration relief, as well as the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.

A victim-centered approach to investigation and prosecution is essential to accomplishing our law enforcement mission. Victims who can tell their story and testify as a witness are key to successful human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. When encountering a potential victim, it is important to remember that victims may not be comfortable coming forward and working with law enforcement. They need help to feel stable, safe, and secure. Trafficking victims may:

  • Fear law enforcement;
  • Not identify themselves as a victim;
  • Not tell a complete story, or use rehearsed responses; or
  • Identify with the trafficker.

It is crucial to understand that these behaviors are indicative of the level of control traffickers exert over victims, and that victims need support and understanding in order to help make the case investigation—and subsequent prosecution of the perpetrator—a success.

When law enforcement encounter a potential victim of trafficking in the course of their duties, it is critical that they begin to develop rapport and establish trust by:

  • Immediately connecting the victim to a victim specialist who can connect them to support services― emphasizing that assistance is available regardless of the outcome of the investigation and prosecution;
  • Taking time to explain who they are, answer questions they might have, and acknowledge and address their fears;
  • Being sensitive to cultural differences and language barriers and using an interpreter when needed;
  • Conducting interviews in a neutral location, only after the victim’s needs have been assessed and any urgent needs have been met; and
  • Being patient and giving the victim time to stabilize and begin their recovery process.

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) support direct services for victims of human trafficking through local, community-based service providers. HHS also can provide federal public benefits to victims.


Most states now have their own laws criminalizing human trafficking, making this form of modern-day slavery a violation not only of international and federal law, but also state laws.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)―in particular U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)―pursues collaborative investigations with other law enforcement agencies at the international, federal, state, local, county, and tribal levels. DHS also works with those that have investigative authority, such as code inspectors, labor officials, and child welfare investigators. DHS’s primary aim in its fight against human trafficking is to work with law enforcement colleagues to protect and stabilize victims, prosecute offenders, and prevent additional trafficking.

E-mail the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit at ICE Headquarters with policy questions. For urgent or operational matters, call 866-347-2423.

Immigration Assistance

Many non-U.S. citizen victims do not have legal status in the United States, which is a reason victims may not come forward. Traffickers also use victims’ lack of legal status to exploit and control them. Immigration relief is a critical tool because it provides a way for victims to feel secure and stabilize their status in the United States.

DHS provides three types of immigration relief in order to encourage victims to come forward and work with law enforcement: Continued Presence (CP), T Visas, and U Visas.

CP is a form of short-term immigration relief that allows a potential witness to remain in the U.S. during an investigation. CP should be made available as soon as law enforcement identifies a victim. The investigation does not have to be complete prior to requesting CP, which is requested by law enforcement only.

Law enforcement plays a role in the T visa and U visa processes by telling U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about the victim’s assistance to law enforcement. Law enforcement fills out a declaration or certification, which informs USCIS about how the victim is assisting law enforcement. For the T visa, this is not required evidence; other evidence can be gathered to show the victim’s assistance. For the U visa, the law enforcement certification is required evidence. The law enforcement declaration or certification alone does not provide the basis for a grant of an immigration benefit and is only one piece of evidence that USCIS reviews before making a decision. To help a victim learn how to apply, contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283, or go online to learn more about the T visa and U visa processes.

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To report suspected human trafficking to Federal law enforcement:
To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
or text HELP or INFO to
BeFree (233733)
Para reportar un posible caso de trata de personas:
Obtenga ayuda de la Línea Directa Nacional de Trata de Personas:
o enviando un mensaje de texto con HELP o INFO to
BeFree (233733)
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