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Enforcing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

Release Date: May 23, 2024

Almost 100 years ago, with the passage of the Tariff Act of 1930, the United States prohibited the importation of goods made with forced labor, preventing illicit actors from profiting off the suffering of others by blocking their access to U.S. markets.

Enforcing our forced labor laws is a priority for Secretary Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security. These laws reflect our values – to honor freedom and protect human rights, and to protect American workers and businesses from predatory competition that unfairly tilts the playing field through exploitation. We use every tool at our disposal to identify and prohibit goods made with forced labor, including civil and criminal investigative and enforcement authorities. 

In December 2021, Congress passed, and President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) – the strongest tool the United States or any other country has forged in the fight against the atrocities of forced labor. The bipartisan passage of the UFLPA was a strong signal that the United States is truly united in our commitment to enforce our forced labor laws, and that we will not be complicit in the exploitation of the oppressed. 

Congress tasked the interagency Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF), which I am privileged to chair, to implement the UFLPA, including a multi-pronged strategy to prohibit imports of goods made with forced labor in the People’s Republic of China.

Our strategy includes identifying malign actors that utilize or facilitate the forced labor of Uyghurs and other persecuted ethnic groups from Xinjiang in accordance with the criteria set forth in the UFLPA. Today, the FLETF has identified an additional 26 entities in the textile sector for inclusion in the UFLPA Entity List, adding to the 39 entities that are already on the List. Identifying these textile-related companies is an important step in combatting goods made with forced labor. Adding these entities to the List also fulfills our commitments made in DHS’ Textile Enforcement Plan, in which we prioritized examining companies and facilities in the textile sector for possible inclusion in the UFLPA Entity List. 

We plan to further scale up our efforts to expand the UFLPA Entity List in the coming weeks and months. There are further case referrals in the pipeline.  

Another key element of the UFLPA is the rebuttable presumption that goods made in whole or in part in Xinjiang or produced by entities on the UFLPA Entity List are prohibited from importation under section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930.  To date, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has examined more than 8,000 shipments valued at more than $3 billion under the UFLPA. As apparel and cotton products are high-priority sectors for enforcement under the UFLPA, CBP has examined more than 1,200 shipments of apparel, footwear and textiles, denying entry for 800 shipments, most of which came from outside China. CBP will also use its risk-based methodologies to examine entries utilizing “de minimis” channels, to ensure that companies do not take advantage of statutory customs exemptions for small packages. CBP will continue its strict enforcement of the UFLPA in reviewing entries, whether from China or third countries, including our Free Trade Agreement partners. We will maximize utilization of our enforcement tools and strategies to prioritize high-risk entries and will impose civil penalties on egregious actors that try to circumvent our laws. 

But our authorities aren’t restricted to civil redress. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) also contributes to our enforcement of the forced labor laws by utilizing its authorities to support criminal prosecutions to hold illicit actors fully accountable. With the support of the Center for Countering Human Trafficking, HSI is actively pursuing investigations of possible violations and criminal prosecution, as warranted by the facts and the law. 

At DHS, we are proud to enforce our nation’s forced labor laws. We do so because they are the law of the land.  We do so because it is the right thing to do. And we will use every authority at our disposal to eradicate economic incentives to abuse the human rights of others and to protect American workers and legitimate businesses from those who exploit the vulnerable for their own financial gain. 

We stand with our partner agencies in the FLETF, all of whose efforts are instrumental to our governments campaign to root out labor-related human rights violation. We also stand with our partners in civil society, in industry, and with our like-minded nations around the world. Together, we will eradicate these goods from legitimate trade, and end the abhorrent practice of forced labor– once and for all.  

Last Updated: 05/24/2024
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