Authored by Cardell Morant, Director of the Center for Countering Human Trafficking.
Tomorrow, we recognize World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, an international day to raise awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking, the plight of trafficking victims, and how to better protect their rights.
Every day, the dedicated workforce of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) endeavors to end human trafficking in all forms. In fact, nearly every DHS component and office has had some sort of responsibility in our counter-human trafficking mission since the Department was founded. The breadth of our counter-trafficking efforts is significant, including investigations and enforcement; intelligence; victim protection, assistance, identification, and screening; and training, outreach, and engagement. At the core of the Department’s work is the Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT).
Founded in October 2020 to unify the Department’s ability to combat human trafficking, the mission of the CCHT is to advance counter human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims, and enhance prevention efforts by aligning DHS’s capabilities and expertise. This DHS-wide effort is comprised of 16 supporting offices and components and is led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Human trafficking is the crime of exploiting another person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts, typically through force, fraud, or coercion, or by inducing a minor under 18 into commercial sex. Human traffickers are in it for the money, with estimated annual global profits of $150 billion. Crimes like these victimize an estimated 25 million people worldwide, with 80 percent in forced labor and 20 percent in sex trafficking. Adults and children – both U.S. citizens and noncitizens—are impacted by these crimes. We know from experience that many trafficking cases involve workers in agriculture, landscaping, construction, domestic situations working as nannies or housekeepers, restaurants, elder care, massage parlors – essentially, in jobs with low pay and few legal protections in the underground economy and in the service industry. The Department has seen cases involving one victim and cases involving hundreds of victims.
Here are some of the ways DHS is working to combat human trafficking:
- The DHS CCHT leverages the resources of 16 DHS Agencies and Offices to combat both sex trafficking and forced labor. Guided by the DHS Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and Child Sexual Exploitation, CCHT integrates the efforts of every component within DHS involved in combating human trafficking.
- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents investigate these crimes and help prosecute the perpetrators.
- The HSI Victim Assistance Program (VAP) supports victims with critical emergency assistance and connects victims with non-governmental organizations that provide short- and long-term direct services.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) investigates allegations of forced labor in U.S. supply chains and bars goods made with forced labor from entering the country.
- The Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) educates law enforcement about the indicators of trafficking and best practices for supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.
- We raise awareness about these heinous crimes through our signature public awareness and education campaign, the DHS Blue Campaign, and our partnerships with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, businesses, airlines, schools, non-profits, legal organizations, and many others.
- Finally, and critically, DHS personnel are trained to recognize and report indicators of human trafficking in the course of their daily duties interacting with the public, including Transportation Security Administration officers, Federal Air Marshals, service members of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) benefits adjudicators, and more.
We need your help to end this heinous crime. Each of us has a role in helping end human trafficking. DHS is also home to the national public awareness campaign, the Blue Campaign. The Blue Campaign educates the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.
Learn the indicators of human trafficking and how to report them. You could save a life.
Any victim of a federal crime, or a whistleblower, or witness to a federal crime, may contact HSI by calling 866-347-2423 or completing a tip form. A crime victim’s identifying information is protected from disclosure. HSI has VAP specialists who can inform crime victims of their rights and ability to receive benefits and services. Informants may remain confidential and may be entitled to compensation.
One case, one victim, is one too many. I am proud and humbled to work with personnel across DHS, and our local, state, federal, and international partners everyday who share this sentiment.
Learn more about the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking
Learn more about the DHS Blue Campaign
Learn more about T Nonimmigrant Status (“T Visa”) for victims of human trafficking
Learn more about U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Trade, Forced Labor Program
Learn more about Continued Presence Temporary Immigration Status for Victims of Human Trafficking