With slavery on the increase in the US and with home foreclosures in record numbers, the real impact of the economic crisis is felt right here at home. Working with local police and federal agents we are working to free slaves in California, New York, and in Washington DC, and we are assisting and advocating on behalf of local and national task forces to abolish slavery both at home and abroad.
Abolish Slavery Coalition would like to commend and thank the city of Chico, California for taking action and defeating slavery.
The following Proclamation was received on January 27, 2012.
2012 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States of America
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (Tier 1)
The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children – both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals – subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking. Trafficking in persons can occur in many licit and illicit industries or markets, including in brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, hotel services, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service, among others. Individuals who enter the United States without legal status have been identified as trafficking victims, as have persons identified in visa programs for temporary workers that fill labor needs in many of the industries described above. There have also been allegations of visa holders employed as domestic workers being subjected to forced labor by personnel of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations posted to the United States. Abuse of third-country nationals (TCNs) providing services for overseas government contracts has been reported in the media and was a focus of congressional hearings during the reporting period. During the same period, federal and state human trafficking data indicate more investigations and prosecutions have taken place for sex trafficking than labor trafficking; however, victim service providers reported assisting significantly higher numbers of foreign national victims in cases of labor trafficking than in cases of sex trafficking. NGOs noted increasing reports of children recruited into criminal activity, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as traveling sales crews and peddling rings utilizing the forced labor of children and adults. The top countries of origin for foreign victims in fiscal year (FY) 2011 were Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Guatemala, Honduras, and India. A sex trafficking victim from the United States was identified in Croatia.
The U.S. government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Federal law enforcement prosecuted cases resulting in convictions of sex and labor trafficking offenders; demonstrated increased legal sophistication in the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of traffickers; and strengthened federal coordination efforts to improve identification of cases at the federal level. Despite decreased funding levels in FY 2011, the federal government continued to provide multi-faceted support for victim services. Greater numbers of trafficking victims and their immediate family members obtained immigration relief through T nonimmigrant status (the T visa), which can lead to lawful permanent residence and an opportunity to apply for citizenship after five years as a lawful permanent resident. The federal government also continued to address weaknesses in overseas procurement policies and in specific visa programs and continued its public awareness campaigns. Despite this significant progress, the federal government was not able to integrate all federal data on federally-prosecuted human trafficking cases or to disaggregate fully victim identification data, in part because numerous agencies, initiatives, and programs each serve distinct roles in a multifaceted anti-trafficking effort. Further, federal and state worksite inspectors lacked sufficient resources and training to increase victim identification appreciably, and NGOs reported that victim funding levels were inadequate to provide comprehensive long-term victim care and key legal services. The U.S. government annually reports on its activities to combat human trafficking in a report compiled and published by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which includes detailed information on funding and recommendations for improved performance; in addition, it electronically published a list of its accomplishments in combating human trafficking, organized by agency and by strategic objective.
Recommendations for the United States: Improve data collection on and analysis of human trafficking cases at the federal, state, and local levels; increase federal resources dedicated to investigating and prosecuting trafficking offenders; increase outreach to and training of federal, state, and local law enforcement, including training on the provision of Continued Presence (CP) and of law enforcement certification for T and U visas for trafficking victims; foster federal partnerships with law enforcement agencies to encourage training, referral protocols, and dedicated and incentivized personnel at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels; strengthen implementation of and increase resources related to government-wide enforcement of the “zero tolerance” policy in federal contracts, including mandatory training for the federal acquisition workforce and federal inspectors; foster new partnerships with survivor groups, victim advocates, and the private sector; institute universal training on the detection of human trafficking for all relevant Department of Labor (DOL) investigators; increase victim identification training for immigration detention and removal officers and systematize screenings for trafficked persons in all immigration detention centers; increase funding for victim services, including legal services and long-term holistic care; offer comprehensive victim services to all identified, eligible victims, including U.S. citizens, and provide services regardless of type of immigration relief sought, if any; develop consistent and standardized procedures for consular processing of T visas (for family members) and U visas and ensure appropriate training for consular officers to reduce vulnerabilities in T and U visa programs; reduce vulnerabilities in temporary visa programs, including student visa and nonimmigrant temporary worker visa programs; conduct annual briefings for domestic workers of foreign diplomats to ensure that they are aware of their rights; increase cooperation between the private and public sectors to encourage business practices that rid supply chains of human trafficking; continue to increase the incorporation of anti-trafficking efforts into existing government structures; expand anti-trafficking outreach, services, and training in the insular areas and tribal communities; and undertake efforts to provide universal training to federal employees about trafficking in persons and the procurement of commercial sex, the demand for which can contribute to the incidence of sex trafficking.
The U.S. government demonstrated progress in its federal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts throughout the reporting period. U.S. law prohibits peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and sex trafficking, as well as confiscation or destruction of documents, such as passports, in connection with trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and subsequent reauthorizations have refined the U.S. government’s response to trafficking. U.S. criminal law also prohibits conspiracy and attempts to violate these provisions, as well as obstructing enforcement of these provisions. Sex trafficking prosecutions involving minors do not require a demonstration of the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
Penalties prescribed under these statutes are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed under U.S. law for other serious offenses. Penalties range from five to 20 years’ imprisonment for peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and domestic servitude. Penalties for sex trafficking range up to life imprisonment with mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking of minors and 15 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, or sex trafficking of minors under age 14. In January 2012, the Department of the Treasury issued Internal Revenue Service guidance making mandatory restitution payments non-taxable when made pursuant to the TVPA to compensate trafficking victims.
By the end of the reporting period, all states but Wyoming had enacted anti-trafficking statutes. All 50 states prohibit the prostitution of minors under state and local laws that predate the TVPA.
Federal trafficking offenses are investigated by federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), DOL’s Office of the Inspector General, as well as the Department of State’s (DOS) Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Human Trafficking Unit, which was fully staffed September 2011. Trafficking offenses were prosecuted by DOJ, which maintains 94 federal prosecution offices and two specialized units – the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU) and the Child Obscenity and Exploitation Section. The HTPU was not fully staffed during the reporting period.
The federal government tracks its activities by fiscal year, which runs from October 1 through September 30. During FY 2011, 40 DOJ-led task forces reported over 900 investigations that involved more than 1,350 suspects. ICE HSI reported investigating 722 cases possibly involving human trafficking. At the end of FY 2011, the FBI had 337 pending human trafficking investigations with suspected adult and foreign minor victims. In FY 2011, DOJ charged 42 cases involving forced labor and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, or coercion. Of these, half involved primarily sex trafficking and half involved primarily labor trafficking, although several involved both sex and labor trafficking. Including federal cases involving sex trafficking of minors, DOJ prosecuted a total of 125 human trafficking cases in FY 2011. A total of 118 defendants were charged in FY 2011 in forced labor and adult sex trafficking cases, representing a 19 percent increase over the number of defendants charged in such cases the previous year and the highest number ever charged in a single year. During the same period, DOJ secured 70 convictions in forced labor and adult sex trafficking cases. Of these cases, 35 were predominantly sex trafficking and 35 were predominantly labor trafficking, although multiple cases involved both. The combined number of federal trafficking convictions totaled 151, including cases involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and sex trafficking of minors, compared to 141 such convictions obtained in 2010. These numbers do not reflect DOJ prosecutions of cases involving the commercial sexual exploitation of children that were brought under statutes other than the TVPA’s sex trafficking provision. According to DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average prison sentence imposed for federal trafficking crimes during FY 2011 was 11.8 years, and terms imposed ranged from 10 months’ to 50 years’ imprisonment. During the reporting period, federal prosecutors secured life sentences against sex traffickers in several cases.
Notable prosecutions included those of sex and labor traffickers who used threats of deportation, violence, and sexual abuse to compel young, undocumented Central American women and girls into hostess jobs and forced prostitution in bars and nightclubs on Long Island, New York. Based on a bilateral prosecution brought by U.S. and Mexican authorities against a transnational sex trafficking ring, Mexican authorities secured sentences of up to 37 years’ imprisonment against three traffickers. DOJ also secured the conviction of a sex trafficker in Dallas, Texas who targeted young, U.S. citizen single mothers from troubled backgrounds for forced prostitution; the conviction of an MS-13 gang member who forced a 12-year-old victim into prostitution in Virginia; and the conviction of a defendant in Chicago who used beatings, threats, and sexual assault to force Eastern European victims to work in massage parlors and prostitution.
Traffickers were also prosecuted under a myriad of state laws, but comprehensive data is not currently collected on state prosecutions and convictions. Reports indicated at least several dozen prosecutions at the state level involving forced prostitution, including the prostitution of minors, domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation of youth – including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth – and exploitation of individuals with mental illness for forced labor. Although state prosecutions continued to increase, protocols, policies, and training for relevant law enforcement officials and assigned dedicated personnel within state prosecutors’ offices were slow to be put in place. Existing state trafficking in persons laws continued to be under-utilized due to resource constraints, inconsistent understanding of the nature of the crime, and greater familiarity with prosecuting other related crimes.
During the reporting period, the FBI continued development of technology to incorporate human trafficking offenses in the annual statistics collected from police forces nationwide. FBI also conducted training to ensure that such data is collected and reported beginning in 2013.
During the reporting period, DOJ, in cooperation with DHS and DOL, launched six Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACTeams) in select pilot districts around the country. The ACTeams streamline coordination among federal prosecutors and federal agents and enhance federal interagency investigations and prosecutions. DOJ also continued to fund 40 anti-trafficking task forces nationwide, comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement investigators and prosecutors, labor enforcement officials, and victim service providers; by the end of FY 2011, the number of task forces had been reduced to 29, as funding for several task forces expired. Six of the 40 task forces were Enhanced Collaboration Model Task Forces, which aim to enhance the cooperation of law enforcement agencies and victim service organizations that have demonstrated a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to combating all forms of trafficking, regardless of whether victims were citizens or noncitizens, adults or children. DSS’s Human Trafficking Unit participated in anti-trafficking training, task forces, and investigations.
Available data from state and local law enforcement agencies involved in human trafficking task forces indicate that, on the state and local levels, sex trafficking investigations and prosecutions outnumber labor trafficking. During FY 2011, the majority of victim service providers associated with those task forces were funded specifically to serve foreign national victims of human trafficking. According to these service providers, they served more victims of labor trafficking than sex trafficking. Other programs funded the provision of services to U.S. citizen victims. Of these victims served with federal funding in 2011, most were victims of sex trafficking.
There was one allegation of a local law enforcement official being complicit in a sex trafficking case involving minors during the reporting period. The suspect was charged in federal court with obstruction of a trafficking investigation. The prosecution was ongoing at the close of the reporting period.
The U.S. government increased its law enforcement training efforts during the reporting period. In FY 2011, DOJ held three regional training forums across the United States to bring together active DOJ task forces with investigators and victim service providers; its funded task forces provided approximately 570 trainings and reached more than 27,000 individuals. The FBI provided comprehensive anti-trafficking training to more than 760 new agents and support personnel, gave specialized training for agents assigned to FBI civil rights squads in field offices, and also trained hundreds of state and local law enforcement officers. The DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Center trained over 2,000 state, local, and federal officers during FY 2011 in human trafficking indicators. DHS Customs and Border Protection offered basic human trafficking training to its law enforcement personnel. ICE HSI provided advanced training to veteran special agents and overview training to all agents attending the ICE training academy. ICE HSI also trained or provided anti-trafficking materials to more than 47,000 individuals. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted numerous in-person and web-based trainings and presentations on human trafficking and on immigration benefits for victims. The Department of Defense (DOD) also provided mandatory online training to all its personnel.
The U.S. government sustained its protection measures by continuing efforts to increase victim identification and service provision to identified victims, although state and federal funding for victim services decreased in this reporting period. The U.S. government has formal procedures to guide officials in victim identification and referral to service providers, funds an NGO-operated national hotline and referral service, and funds NGOs that provide trafficking-specific victim services.
The U.S. government supported foreign national and U.S. citizen victims during trafficking investigations and prosecutions by increasing the number of victim assistance coordinators assigned to field offices to assist victims cooperating in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. It also provided funding to victim service providers to support eligible victims during the criminal justice process; however, in some cases, funding was reportedly insufficient to cover victim needs during the course of the investigation and prosecution. The TVPA authorizes DHS to provide two principal types of immigration relief to foreign trafficking victims: 1) the law enforcement-sponsored Continued Presence, which allows temporary immigration relief and work authorization where federal law enforcement states that an individual is a victim of a severe form of trafficking and a potential witness in an investigation or prosecution; and 2) the self-petitioning T nonimmigrant status (T visa), which allows for valid immigration status for up to four years for victims who are physically present in the United States and who comply with any reasonable law enforcement requests for assistance with an investigation or prosecution of a human trafficking case. There is no requirement that victims testify in court. A trauma exception exists that permits certain victims to be eligible for the T nonimmigrant status without meeting the law enforcement requirement, if they are unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma. Victims under the age of 18 are not required to assist law enforcement. Victims may also include certain family members in their application for T nonimmigrant status; recipients and their family members are authorized to work and are eligible for federal public benefits and services. After three years, or the completion of the investigation or prosecution, victims in T nonimmigrant status are eligible to apply for permanent resident status and later may be subsequently eligible for citizenship.
Another immigration benefit available is the self-petitioning U nonimmigrant status (U visa), which allows for legal immigration status for up to four years for victims of certain crimes, including trafficking, who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of such crimes and who cooperate or are willing to cooperate with reasonable law enforcement requests in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity. The petition for U nonimmigrant status must be filed with and approved by DHS. Victims may also apply for U visas on behalf of certain family members. U visa holders and their family members are authorized to work and after three years are then eligible to apply for permanent resident status and later may subsequently be eligible for citizenship. The number of U nonimmigrant visas granted where human trafficking is the qualifying crime is not tracked.
The number of foreign national trafficking victims that received immigration relief related to trafficking increased in FY 2011, but NGOs continued to express concern that numbers remained low in proportion to the number of trafficking victims identified in the United States. In FY 2011, CP was issued to 283 potential victim-witnesses, an increase from 186 in FY 2010. T nonimmigrant status was granted to 557 victims and 722 immediate family members of victims, representing a significant increase from 447 and 349, respectively, in the previous period.
In 2011, the United States’ Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification program for victims of trafficking reunited 69 family members with trafficked persons in the United States.
Federally-funded victim assistance included case management and referrals, medical care, dental care, mental health treatment, sustenance and shelter, translation and interpretation services, immigration and legal assistance, referrals to employment and training services, and transportation assistance. When CP is granted or a potential victim has made a bona fide application for T nonimmigrant status, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can issue a certification letter that enables a foreign national victim to receive federal public benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee. In FY 2011, HHS issued 463 certifications to foreign national adults and 101 eligibility letters to foreign national children, compared to 449 for adults and 92 for children in FY 2010.
During FY 2011, HHS funds supported 122 NGO service providers who provided trafficking victim assistance to 366 potential foreign national victims and 341 certified foreign national victims, of which 93 received both pre- and post-certification services. This represents a 30 percent decrease compared with the total number served in FY 2010.
HHS awarded $4.7 million in FY 2011 for case management services for foreign national victims to three NGOs for the provision of services through a nationwide network of NGO sub-awardees and also completed funding a five-year victim services contract, providing approximately $1.9 million to one NGO for the provision of services through a similar nationwide network of NGO sub-awardees.
Under the HHS services program, there is a maximum reimbursement amount allowed per month for each victim for the 12 months during which a victim can be assisted, with some exceptions allowed. NGOs reported cases in which they reached these funding limits and were no longer able to provide services to victims waiting for their traffickers’ cases to come to trial, and reported having to supplement government funds with private donations to adequately support their efforts on behalf of victims. NGOs also asserted that, in a number of cases, HHS incorrectly denied minor trafficking victims interim benefits. During FY 2011, HHS received 134 requests for assistance, of which 29 requests for interim assistance were denied and one such denial was appealed.
During FY 2011, DOJ had active grants with 42 victim service organizations across the United States. Data collected from the year July 2010 to June 2011 indicated that grantees enrolled 706 victims as new clients. In 2011, DOJ again funded a grant program that includes a focus on adult U.S. citizen victims, including Native Americans.
In FY 2011, DOJ awarded grants to 17 victim service organizations totaling approximately $6.7 million. This included victim services programs within six Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Forces. DOJ provided annual funding to victim service organizations with a demonstrated history of providing trauma-informed, culturally competent services to male and female victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
Federal funding streams and grants for victim services remained inadequately structured for providing comprehensive care options for all types of trafficking victims, resulting in disparate treatment of victims, including turning away some victims. Some victims were assisted with funding from both DOJ and HHS, and current data collection systems do not allow for cross-referencing to avoid duplication. NGOs reported the need for increased funding for legal services and noted concern about HHS’s policy that HHS funds may not be used to provide legal representation for victims or potential victims of trafficking in immigration matters. In 2012, HHS changed its policy to allow for the provision of legal representation within the allocated funds. Legal services may be provided using funds for victim service provision from DOJ. NGOs noted that overall funding amounts for legal services are limited and not sufficient.
The federal government continued to provide victim protection training to federal, state, and local law enforcement as well as to NGO service providers. HHS staff conducted trainings for ICE and FBI agents and various state and regional NGOs on victim identification. ICE HSI held a national training on victim assistance to over 250 victim assistance specialists and special agents with collateral duties for victim assistance from offices throughout the United States and U.S. insular areas. All USCIS asylum field offices conducted training on identifying trafficking victims in the context of affirmative asylum adjudications, which is required for all incoming asylum officers. DHS created a cross-component working group to ensure that age-appropriate care and services are provided to unaccompanied alien children (UACs) encountered by DHS personnel. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) developed a new risk classification assessment system to train ICE ERO officers to conduct immigration intakes and screen all immigration detainees at initial intake for a number of vulnerabilities, including human trafficking. The Department of Education (ED) consolidated and augmented its existing work around child safety to build a more comprehensive program to educate school districts, including a fact sheet, web page, webinars created in collaboration with other federal agencies, conference sessions, and training.
In March 2011, DOJ conducted training on human trafficking to over 30 State Farmworker Monitor Advocates (SMAs), where they learned how and where to refer complaints filed by migrants and seasonal farmworkers alleging human trafficking violations.
Victim protection frameworks and principles were not codified in most state laws. NGOs reported that service options varied widely from state to state and region to region and that existing services are often disproportionately available to women and children survivors of sex trafficking as opposed to all victims irrespective of gender or what type of trafficking they suffered. NGOs noted further that state social services personnel lacked training and that state funds for shelter and supported housing for all victims, but especially male victims, were insufficient.
Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies face ongoing challenges in victim identification. The federal government conducted numerous trainings on victim identification for state and local law enforcement officials. Despite these increased trainings, laws, and regulations, NGOs noted that some federal, state, and local law enforcement officials were reluctant to identify individuals as trafficking victims when the have participated in criminal activity, facilitated their own smuggling, and/or were subjected to debt bondage or peonage by a smuggler.
While federal, state, and local grant programs exist for vulnerable children and at-risk youth, including those who are on the streets, NGOs reported that identified child trafficking victims faced difficulties accessing needed services. In particular, NGOs stated that minor victims are often referred to shelters that are not fully equipped to address all of the complex issues of trafficked youth including the psychological effects of human trafficking. In an effort to fill this gap, HHS conducted some training for providers of services to runaway and homeless youth. However, more trafficking-specific training to youth outreach and shelter programs would enable outreach workers to better identify and assist child trafficking victims. DOJ continued grants for services coordination, technical assistance, and comprehensive services to U.S. citizen child victims of both sex and labor trafficking. Data collected from July 2010 to June 2011 indicated that 107 citizen child victims received services through this program.
UACs who come to the attention of federal authorities are placed in the care and custody of HHS, which screens such children for trafficking victimization and, where appropriate, conducts an eligibility determination. HHS screened over 7,500 UACs during FY 2011, of which 42 were believed to be trafficking victims. If any UACs are found to be victims of trafficking, they are eligible for federally funded long-term foster care through the same program that cares for unaccompanied refugee minors in the United States.
The TVPA provides that victims should not be incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. NGOs reported some cases of prosecutions of trafficking victims. In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, 112 males and 542 females under 18 years of age – some of whom were likely trafficking victims – were reported to the FBI as having been arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice, a decrease from 167 males and 624 females in 2009. Jurisdictions continued to formulate responses to help decrease arrests of child victims and increase understanding of trafficked persons as victims. By December 2011, only eight states had passed laws that prevent charging children with prostitution, although under the TVPA minors induced to perform commercial sex acts regardless of force, fraud, or coercion are considered victims of trafficking.
The U.S. government made progress on efforts to prevent trafficking, continuing efforts aimed at ensuring that government procurement of goods and labor services is free from forced labor, examining visa categories for vulnerabilities, and conducting public awareness activities. The cabinet-level President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons continued coordination of federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons, supported by the Senior Policy Operating Group.
DOL carries out civil law worksite enforcement and its field investigators are often the first government authorities to detect exploitative labor practices. DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) targets industries employing vulnerable workers, such as agriculture, garment, janitorial, restaurant, and hotel/motel. WHD does not collect enforcement data on trafficking in persons specifically. While DOL investigators assist law enforcement partners in their human trafficking investigations and coordinate with task forces, primarily helping to calculate restitution amounts for victims, they are not mandated to investigate human trafficking. Systematic trafficking-specific training for DOL inspectors was not implemented during the reporting period; however, some inspectors participated in interagency training. DOL focused on implementing tools to sharpen law enforcement efforts, which may include remedies for trafficking victims, such as issuing protocols for WHD to support certification requests for U visa applicants and hiring U visa coordinators in each region. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates discrimination charges against employers, filed three lawsuits involving human trafficking issues in FY 2011. EEOC partnered with DOJ to strengthen cooperation with law enforcement and develop victim identification training for EEOC attorneys and investigators.
The U.S. government undertook multiple efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex and forced labor in the reporting period. DHS and DOS deployed an online, interactive training for the entire federal acquisitions workforce on combating human trafficking, as well as on factors contributing to human trafficking, such as the demand for commercial sex. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) adopted a Counter-Trafficking in Persons Code of Conduct that prohibits all USAID personnel, contractors, and grantees during the period of performance of their employment, contracts, or awards from engaging in trafficking in persons, procuring commercial sex acts, or using forced labor. USAID began implementing the code in July 2011 through agency-wide counter-trafficking training. USAID launched a new Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy in February 2012 that outlines concrete, measurable principles, and objectives to focus USAID’s anti-trafficking efforts. DOD dishonorably discharged one service member for violating DOD’s prohibition relating to the procurement of commercial sex. DOL published an updated list of 130 goods from 71 countries that it had reason to believe were produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. DOL also updated a list of products produced, mined, or manufactured with forced or indentured child labor, which requires any contractor to the federal government who supplies products on the list to certify they have made a “good faith effort” to determine that the products supplied were not made under these conditions. DHS continued to enforce the prohibition against importing such products under the relevant statute, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, and during the reporting period ICE HSI continued to actively investigate alleged violations. NGOs and researchers reported the use of forced labor (including forced child labor) to make products, or components of products, that continue to be imported to the United States for sale. While many of these products are banned from U.S. commerce, U.S. law currently allows the importation of forced labor-produced products, such as cocoa, that are not produced domestically in sufficient quantity to meet U.S. consumer demand. Through a grant from DOS, an NGO developed a web- and mobile-based application that helps users understand how their lives intersect with modern slavery by demonstrating how consumer demand for cheap goods can drive markets for forced labor and calls on consumers to change their purchasing habits.
Allegations against federal contractors engaged in commercial sex and labor exploitation continued to surface in the media and became an issue of congressional interest. NGOs asserted the presence of trafficked individuals within the workforce of private contractors in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In FY 2011, DHS suspended, proposed debarment of, or debarred five companies and eight individuals for involvement with forced labor. The inspectors general at DOS, DOD, and USAID continued their audits of federal contracts to monitor vulnerability to human trafficking and issued public reports of their findings and recommendations. DOD’s Inspector General noted that DOD conducted at least two investigations into allegations of forced labor, which remained ongoing at the close of the reporting period. USAID continued its program to track contractor compliance proactively and ensure that all of its grants and contracts contained clauses authorizing USAID to terminate in the event its partners or their employees engage in trafficking or forced labor. USAID’s Inspector General conducts routine audits and investigations and responds to all allegations of trafficking in persons abuse related to any USAID programs or activities. If trafficking violations have taken place, it will send a referral for suspension or debarment to the Compliance Division of the Office of Acquisition and Assistance. No USAID contracts or grants, however, were suspended or terminated during FY 2011.
In February 2010, DOL issued regulations under the H-2A program to enhance protections related to nonimmigrant temporary agricultural workers and U.S. workers who perform the same jobs. DOL’s and DHS’s H-2A regulations prohibit foreign recruiters from charging nonimmigrant temporary agricultural workers certain fees. NGOs reported that some recruiters adjusted their practices by charging fees related to workers obtaining their visas, levying charges under the guise of “service fees.” DOL’s WHD issued guidance under the H-2A program in May 2011 clarifying fees that may not be charged by employers or agents, and identifying those that may be charged by independent third-party facilitators.
NGOs reported that workers fear seeking assistance because of blacklisting and other retaliation methods used against workers who complain about their working conditions. DOL regulations address these issues by imposing on employers an obligation not to retaliate against employees who have grievances. Failure to comply with this obligation can result in removal from program participation.
NGOs noted vulnerabilities in the J-1 Summer Work Travel program that can be indicators for human trafficking, including reports of fraudulent job offers, inappropriate jobs, job cancellations on arrival, and housing and transportation problems. In September 2011, the ninth and final defendant in a human trafficking ring accused of trafficking women through the J-1 program to work in exotic dance clubs pled guilty and awaited sentencing at the close of the reporting period. In addition, numerous media reports highlighted vulnerabilities that are common indicators of human trafficking, including threats, intimidating practices, and irregular pay. In response, DOS undertook a process of fundamental reform of the program in 2011 that limited certain jobs, increased vetting of job offers and third parties, required implementing program sponsors to use extra caution when placing students in positions at employers in business that are frequently associated with trafficking in persons, and strengthened oversight and monitoring, thereby reducing participants’ vulnerability to trafficking.
The U.S. government continued prevention efforts within its A-3 and G-5 visa categories, which allow persons to enter the United States as domestic workers employed by foreign diplomatic or consular personnel or by foreign employees of international organizations (“foreign mission personnel”). DOS continued its work to help protect these workers, including by requiring that foreign missions “pre-notify” DOS that their personnel intend to hire a domestic worker before such workers apply for A-3 and G-5 visas. DOS tracks workers’ registration upon their arrival in the United States and requires that their salary payments be made by check or made directly into bank accounts that are set up in their own name; cash payments are prohibited. During the reporting period, there were five allegations of various forms of abuse and domestic servitude, including civil lawsuits against, and criminal investigations of, foreign mission personnel. DOS followed procedures to closely review and, where appropriate, to deny pre-notification approvals for A-3 and G-5 workers of foreign mission personnel in the United States against whom serious allegations of abuse had been lodged. Under U.S. law, a foreign mission will lose the ability to sponsor additional domestic workers if the secretary of state determines that there is credible evidence that a domestic worker was abused by foreign mission personnel and that the mission tolerated the abuse; no suspensions occurred within the reporting period. A-3 and G-5 visa holders who filed civil lawsuits against their former employers were eligible for temporary immigration relief and work authorization.
The U.S. government continued measures to inform and educate the public, including potential victims, about the causes and consequences of human trafficking. DHS, in collaboration with DOS, created an online, interactive general awareness training on human trafficking, which is available to the public. HHS funded 11 projects to conduct outreach, public awareness, and identification efforts. HHS continued to fund an NGO to operate a national human trafficking hotline that received over 16,000 phone calls in FY 2011, a 43 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide continued distribution of a “know your rights” pamphlet and verbal briefings for approved student or work-based visa applicants.
DHS continued international and domestic awareness campaigns, including through multilingual television and radio announcements, billboards, newspaper advertisements, online resources, victim assistance materials, and indicator cards for law enforcement and first responders. DOD produced a new public service announcement on combating trafficking in persons that aired on the network for the U.S. armed services. ED raised awareness of human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children and provided technical assistance to interested schools.
U.S. laws provide extraterritorial jurisdiction over child sex tourism offenses perpetrated overseas by U.S. citizens. DHS made three criminal arrests resulting in five indictments and eight convictions in child sex tourism cases in FY 2011. The DOS Bureau of Consular Affairs Passport Services took action during the reporting period to preclude issuance of passports in the case of two individuals who were convicted of child sex tourism crimes that subjected them to passport restriction.
U.S. Insular Areas
The U.S. insular areas consist of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Federal authority over these areas resides in the Department of the Interior (DOI). The insular areas are source, transit, and destination locations for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, and sex trafficking. While the U.S. government has compacts of free association with Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, they are independent of the United States and thus discussed and ranked in separate narratives.
The territory of American Samoa is believed to be a transit and destination island for human trafficking. In FY 2011, there were no new reported human trafficking cases. The legislature in American Samoa did not pass a bill, introduced in October 2009, which would criminalize human trafficking as a felony offense.
CNMI is a source, destination, and transit island for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. During the reporting period, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged two men with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, and financially benefitting from a sex trafficking venture, involving Chinese women. In CNMI, DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs – Federal Ombudsman’s office referred matters it considers to constitute human trafficking to federal investigative agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The CNMI Human Trafficking Intervention Coalition (HTIC), along with representatives from Guam, sponsored a human trafficking regional training conference focused exclusively on human trafficking that was the first of its kind in the CNMI. Since the regional conference, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has sponsored additional human trafficking and immigration-related training to community stakeholders. The first civil rights conference, which included human trafficking training, was also held in September 2011.
The territory of Guam is a source and destination location for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. During the reporting period, there were no new reported human trafficking cases. With local and federal partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office held a two-day Pacific regional conference on trafficking in persons, which was the first of its kind. Since then, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has sponsored additional human trafficking and immigration related training to community stakeholders. The first civil rights conference, which included human rights training, was also held in Guam. Sentencing and forfeiture proceedings are pending for a 69-year-old Guam bar owner who was convicted in the previous reporting period for conspiracy, sex trafficking, and coercion and enticement to travel for purposes related to prostitution, for a scheme to force young women and one minor girl into prostitution at his bar.
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a source, transit, and destination island for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. In Puerto Rico, women from the Dominican Republic are held in forced prostitution, particularly in the sex tourism industry, and in conditions of domestic servitude. Puerto Rican girls are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. NGOs continued efforts to bring the issue to the attention of the legislature, law enforcement, service providers, and the public at large. Puerto Rico has no local anti-trafficking law, although an outstanding proposal to revise the penal code to include trafficking exists. In June 2011, federal law enforcement entities conducted a week-long training for Puerto Rican law enforcement and their counterparts from Mexico and Central America.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is a transit island for human trafficking. Traffickers use the island as a transit point for migrants from the Caribbean, who are then taken to the United States for commercial sexual exploitation. One case of Brazilian nationals attempting to use the U.S. Virgin Islands as a transit point for smuggling women into the United States and then forcing them into prostitution was stopped by U.S. authorities in June 2011.