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DHS Highlights Efforts to Address Human Trafficking

Release Date: 
December 3, 2021

Combating human trafficking is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Biden-Harris Administration. Today, the White House released an updated National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, which focuses on four key U.S. and global anti-trafficking efforts: prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships. DHS, a leader in the fight against human trafficking, helped develop the White House whole-of-government National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.

DHS is supporting and implementing the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking by

  • Building DHS capacity and bolstering partnerships with industry to prohibit forced labor in supply chains.
  • Developing improvements to prevent human trafficking of foreign workers and students.
  • Strengthening efforts by DHS personnel to identify and respond to human trafficking they may encounter in daily work. For example, Transportation Security Officers and U.S. Custom and Border Patrol agents are trained to identify indicators of human trafficking- while interacting with the traveling public at airports and ports of entry.
  • Improving access to immigration assistance programs for victims of human trafficking.
  • Increasing coordination with law enforcement agencies and the social media and technology industry to hold traffickers accountable and dismantle human trafficking networks.
  • Enhancing initiatives that combat forced labor and traffickers’ illicit use of financial systems.

DHS has a long-standing commitment to combat human trafficking. In the last fiscal year, DHS has made tremendous progress on this issue.

DHS Fiscal Year 2021 Highlights to Combat Human Trafficking

  • DHS established the Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT), a DHS-wide effort led by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), dedicated to aligning DHS’s capabilities and expertise to advance counter human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims, and enhance prevention efforts.
  • CBP detained about 1,500 shipments (up from 324 the previous year) and seized 57 shipments with a combined estimated value of $485 million dollars (up from $55 million the previous year). CBP issued seven significant Withhold Release Orders (WROs) to prevent merchandise produced with forced labor abroad from being imported into the United States.
  • The number of HSI human trafficking cases increased from 947 to 1,111. Arrests increased from 1,746 to 2,360. And 728 victims were identified and assisted.
  • New Continued Presence requests increased to the highest it has been in 10 years and HSI issued publicly the first-ever comprehensive Continued Presence Resource Guide.
  • FLETC trained more than 3,300 federal law enforcement officers through its federal basic training programs on indicators of human trafficking.
  • USCIS approved 559 T visas for trafficking victims and 451 T visas for their family members. Also, USCIS is now issuing Bona Fide Determinations for U visa applicants, which brings them protection from removal and access to work authorization much sooner.
  • ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations now has human trafficking POCs in every office and has collaborated with Blue Campaign on posters and materials to distribute.
  • Blue Campaign provided 68 human trafficking presentations to over 4,500 Federal, Non-Governmental Organization, law enforcement, congressional, and general public attendees. Additionally, 28 new partners have joined the Blue Lightning Initiative, including its first ever university and private security firm. Blue Campaign also developed: three new trainings for youth program professionals, front line convenience store employees, and campus law enforcement and created two animated videos for youth (ages 11-17) and the trucking industry.

DHS is home to the Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT), which integrates the efforts of every component within DHS involved in combating human trafficking. DHS efforts range across criminal investigations, victim assistance, identifying and reporting human trafficking, external outreach, intelligence, and training. The CCHT better equips and positions DHS to accomplish and improve every aspect of its counter human trafficking efforts.

The DHS Blue Campaign educates the public, law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders through partnerships, advertisements, and social media about the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it.

In October, on the first anniversary of the CCHT, DHS released new initiatives across components to highlight the victim centered approach to combat sex trafficking and forced labor. In October, Secretary Mayorkas also directed DHS components to incorporate a victim-centered approach into all policies, programs, and activities governing DHS interactions with victims of crime.

Learn more about DHS’s efforts to combat trafficking.

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Last Published Date: December 3, 2021
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