Progress in Combating Trafficking in Persons: The Obama Administration's Accomplishments (as of February 2012)

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
March 19, 2012

Investigate and prosecute traffickers and dismantle the criminal networks that perpetrate trafficking in persons.

  • The Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Labor (DOL) collaborated through the Federal Enforcement Working Group to conduct a competitive nationwide selection process and launched six pilot Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACTeams). ACTeams implement coordinated interagency strategy to develop high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions in collaboration with national human trafficking subject matter experts. The group also developed and disseminated interagency ACTeam Operations Guides.
  • DOJ brought 41 forced labor and adult sex trafficking prosecutions, charged 117 defendants, and secured 65 convictions. DOJ secured life sentences against domestic and international sex traffickers in four separate cases.
  • DOJ expanded its efforts on the effective prevention, investigation, and prosecution of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation crimes.
  • DHS conducted more investigations containing a nexus to human trafficking this year than ever before, resulting in 722 initiated cases, 271 convictions, and seized assets of over $2,000,000. In recognition of the needs and unique challenges of interviewing trafficked minors, two full-time forensic interview specialists are now available to conduct developmentally appropriate, legally defensible, victim- and culturally-sensitive, translated forensic interviews for all domestic and international investigations.
  • DHS has designated human trafficking subject matter experts who are trained to handle human trafficking leads, address urgent victim needs appropriately, and serve as designated points of contact for local officers and leads.
  • DHS expanded its Homeland Security Investigations Tip Line to include an online submission form. Individuals around the world can report suspicious criminal activity, including human trafficking, through a phone line or online form 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Highly trained specialists take reports from both the public and law enforcement agencies on possible violations of more than 400 federal laws.
  • DOL and DHS participate in 26 DOJ-funded task forces that are operating in 13 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands. These task forces, composed of both federal law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are working to strengthen trafficking investigations and prosecutions. Additionally, DOL is participating in 12 non-DOJ funded task forces located in nine states. These counter-human trafficking task forces are comprised of federal, state, and local government agencies, and work to investigate cases, provide assistance to victims, and raise awareness within the capabilities of the individual agencies and organizations.
  • The Department of State (DOS) has established an anti-trafficking unit within Diplomatic Security to investigate trafficking cases involving visa or passport fraud. DOS will increase its participation in trafficking task forces, centralize case referrals, and offer training, particularly on interviewing and supporting victims of human trafficking. The unit will assist other domestic law enforcement agencies in overseas investigation activities. DOS also has a Victims’ Resource Advocacy Program that is designed to fully support any victims, including trafficking victims, discovered during the course of investigations.
  • The Department of the Interior (DOI) coordinates with the Federal Ombudsman in the Northern Mariana Islands to assist in human trafficking investigations.

Enhance victim identification and the provision of relief and services for all victims of trafficking.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $4.7 million to three organizations to provide comprehensive case management services to foreign victims and potential victims of trafficking seeking HHS certification in the United States.
  • HHS’s funding assisted 729 foreign trafficking victims and family members to receive case management services. HHS issued 463 Certification Letters to foreign trafficked adults and issued 101 Eligibility Letters to foreign trafficked children for benefits and services.
  • HHS supports over 1,700 local domestic violence programs and state coalitions in conducting state-level training, coordinating services, and advocating for both domestic and foreign victims of trafficking who come in contact with domestic violence programs.
  • DOJ awarded grants to 11 victim service organizations with a demonstrated history of providing trauma-informed, culturally competent services to victims of sex and labor trafficking. See
  • DHS reached the annual statutory cap of 10,000 U visas, which provide relief for victims who cooperate in the investigation or prosecution of certain crimes, including human trafficking. DHS reported an increase in T visa applications for victims of human trafficking.
  • DHS implemented greater confidentiality protections for victims with pending or approved applications for immigration relief. The Central Index System database now has a specific code that alerts DHS personnel when an individual is covered by the confidentiality provisions associated with T or U nonimmigrant status petitions.
  • DHS amended the Continued Presence (CP) Protocol providing guidance to law enforcement on victims who have filed a civil action and on significant public benefit parole for family members of victims who have received CP.
  • DOS funds a program that reunites trafficking victims that hold T status with eligible family members. In 2011, DOS helped 69 family members to join trafficking survivors in the United States through this program. The program also provides repatriation services and reintegration assistance in victims’ home communities.
  • DOS improved its system to help protect domestic workers of diplomats in the United States by better tracking allegations of abuse and establishing requirements pertaining to the treatment of domestic workers, including with regard to the payment of their wages. In early 2012, DOS will conduct briefings both for senior foreign mission personnel and for domestic workers on these matters.
  • DOS and DHS are working together to resolve recurring T/U visa processing delays. DHS and DOS collaborate regularly to expedite time-sensitive or complex cases.
  • DOL’s approximately 2,900 One-Stop Career Centers continue to offer employment and training services to victims of trafficking in persons.
  • DOL assists victims of human trafficking to gain full restitution for the labor they performed by computing back wages.
  • DOL announced new protocols for the certification of the Supplement B form in U visa applications.
  • DOL, with assistance from DOJ, provided training to its State Monitor Advocates on how and where to refer alleged trafficking complaints filed by migrant and seasonal farm workers.
  • EEOC filed suits in district courts in two large civil cases involving labor trafficking victims.

Enhance training of stakeholders, including civil society, law enforcement, and government officials, to increase identification of victims.

  • DHS and DOS led the SPOG working group on implementation of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provision aimed at combating human trafficking and its contributing factors, like the demand for commercial sex, in U.S. Government contracts and sub-contracts. An interactive online training is now available for the entire federal acquisitions workforce. Personnel in more than 10 federal agencies have already taken the training.
  • DHS, in collaboration with DOS and with input from other federal agency partners, developed an unprecedented interactive online training for the general public. The 15-minute training provides an overview of human trafficking, describes common indicators, and explains how to report tips to law enforcement. See
  • DHS worked with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to launch the Blue Lightning Initiative, an in-flight protocol and training program to educate airline employees on how to recognize or identify potential human trafficking in airports or during flights.
  • DHS developed a computer-based training for department personnel who might encounter human trafficking within the scope of their work. The department also developed computer-based training for all DHS personnel on the statutory confidentiality provisions related to applicants for certain immigration benefits who are victims of trafficking.
  • DHS conducted numerous trainings and presentations on human trafficking and immigration benefits for trafficking victims for federal, state, and local law enforcement, community organizations, immigration advocates and attorneys, judges, and the general public.
  • The Department of Defense (DOD) enhanced individualized training by converting its human trafficking general awareness training course for delivery on most mobile devices.
  • DOJ continued to train prosecutors, law enforcement, and investigators on human trafficking.
  • DOS and DOJ created an Advanced Human Trafficking Investigator course at the FBI Training Academy for Central American law enforcement officers.
  • DOL is currently developing plans to provide basic awareness training to key enforcement field staff throughout the country in 2012.
  • HHS conducted WebEx trainings on T and U visas, the Trauma Resiliency Model, the first offender prostitution program, engaging volunteers in anti-trafficking outreach, and how to assist American Indian trafficking victims.
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) developed new agency-wide training to educate personnel about trafficking and their obligations under its Counter-Trafficking Code of Conduct, a two-day training module for employees in the field, and a one-hour online module. The agency has also integrated trafficking into its agency-wide ethics training and its new employee orientation training for civil servants.
  • USAID developed a Counter Trafficking Field Guide that it will distribute within its agency, to missions, and to NGOs as a technical assistance tool for identifying trafficking situations.
  • The Department of Education (ED) plans to distribute materials instructing school staff on how to identify minors who are being trafficked and what to do when they are identified. ED also provided human trafficking presentations to nearly 2,000 education professionals.
  • EEOC expanded its New Investigator Training to incorporate human trafficking. EEOC trained District Directors and Regional Attorneys on human trafficking. EEOC also trained representatives of state, local, and tribal fair employment entities in the identification, investigation, and eradication of human trafficking.

Encourage foreign governments to combat trafficking through international diplomacy and engagement.

  • DOS released the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report covering 184 countries and territories, and including the U.S. ranking and narrative. Since 2000, the report has encouraged the enactment of anti-trafficking laws in over 120 countries, increased the numbers of victims identified and traffickers facing justice, and prodded recalcitrant governments to do more.
  • DOS successfully advanced multilateral policy, including drafting and negotiating the text of an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Declaration on Combating all Forms of Human Trafficking, and providing expert input for the new International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and its Recommendation.
  • DOL finalized the signing of Joint Declarations with the governments of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic, and Letters of Agreement with all three as well as with El Salvador. The Declarations aim to ensure that foreign workers in the United States are informed of their labor rights through information sharing, outreach, education, training, and the exchange of best practices. Such information can assist vulnerable workers, including those who may have been trafficked.
  • DHS provided international training and outreach on international forced child labor, trafficking in persons, and child sex tourism to over 1,000 foreign officials in The Bahamas, Barbados, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hungary, Kosovo, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • DOJ advanced opportunities for international apprehension of traffickers wanted in the United States by using its Total Information Management System enabled with real-time checks against INTERPOL databases.
  • DOJ continued to share information about domestic counter-human trafficking efforts with international delegations.
  • USAID provided technical support in the Latin America/Caribbean region on reforms for counter-human trafficking efforts. USAID is also in the midst of an 18-month project to further improve cooperation between countries of origin, destination, and transit in order to streamline the process of providing comprehensive and effective assistance, support, and protection for trafficked persons, focusing especially on special measures for children and on labor exploitation in nine countries in Southeastern Europe, as well as key destination and transit countries in Central and Western Europe.
  • USAID has strengthened government partnerships in Cambodia by supporting extensive counter-trafficking training throughout the country, including the training of members of the National Committee and Provincial Committee on Trafficking in Persons, government officials, social workers, police officers, and victims of trafficking.
  • USAID is supporting a project to enhance transnational cooperation to combat trafficking in South Eastern Europe. This project has established a comprehensive cross-border referral mechanism for trafficking victims in ten countries. The referral guidelines and protocols have helped shape local laws, including several National Action Plans to combat trafficking.

Forge and strengthen partnerships and other forms of collaboration to counter trafficking in persons.

  • USAID supports a multimedia trafficking awareness campaign across Asia through a public-private partnership. This $8 million USAID investment leveraged $100 million in contributions from other donors. Impact assessments of the campaign, which has reached millions of households, revealed that individuals exposed to the campaign had a substantially greater understanding of the dangers of trafficking than those not exposed. The campaign is expanding to Russia in 2012.
  • DOS collaborated with several partners including Business for Social Responsibility, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, Christian Brothers Investment Service, and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America to develop two webinars promoting the importance of corporate social accountability in combating modern slavery and sharing with business information on resources, tools, and training.
  • DOS engaged the hospitality, travel, and tourism sector in its efforts to develop training on human trafficking and raise awareness of the penalties associated with child sex tourism.
  • DOS provided support to the International Business Leaders Forum’s pilot project to provide job- and life-skills training to trafficking survivors in at least 13 hotel sites in three pilot countries.
  • DHS engaged private companies and other entities on human trafficking by holding a roundtable discussion at the White House. DHS continues its outreach to private companies and sent training materials to approximately 18,000 hotel and motel establishments.
  • DOS, DOD, DOJ, DOL, HHS, DOT, DHS, USAID and EEOC individually continue to meet with federal partners, private sector partners, and non-governmental, community and faith-based organizations to receive stakeholder feedback on programs, to help shape future initiatives, and to collaborate on counter-trafficking prevention, protection, and prosecution efforts.
  • DHS included representatives from DOS, DOJ, DOL, HHS, and DOT in its last semi-annual stakeholder meeting.
  • DOI conducted outreach to representatives from both faith-based and ethnic-based communities to begin to develop the mutual trust and partnerships necessary to combat trafficking of persons in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.
  • DOJ advanced the U.S.-Mexico Human Trafficking Bilateral Enforcement Initiative, in collaboration with DHS and Mexican law enforcement counterparts, to develop high-impact bilateral investigations and prosecutions to dismantle international human trafficking networks, resulting in landmark convictions in coordinated prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law.
  • USAID is investing in innovation and new technology to combat trafficking through a partnership with NetHope and the Demi & Ashton Foundation. This partnership is supporting the launch of a new cell phone application, which will provide users in Russia with anti-trafficking educational information, mapping of the nearest shelters, hospitals, social services, and a panic button that sends an alert by voice and SMS to pre-loaded emergency contacts and to a civil society anti-trafficking organization.

Fund domestic and international anti-trafficking programs focusing on victim identification, prevention, and outreach.

  • SPOG agencies continued to share information on matters relating to grants, grant policies, and other significant actions regarding international trafficking in persons to inform funding decisions and ensure programs are not duplicative but are instead strategic and smart.
  • HHS awarded $799,333 for a second-year continuation grant to Polaris Project to operate the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). The NHTRC is a dedicated, toll-free, U.S. national telephone hotline (1-888-3737-888) that provides emergency assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Internet users now may report possible tips of trafficking cases to the NHTRC via an online reporting form. The NHTRC is also a resource for human trafficking information as well as training for anti-trafficking stakeholders.
  • HHS awarded $3 million in grants to 11 organizations for the Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking Regional Program. The central purpose of these grants is to maximize and increase the identification and protection of human trafficking victims in the United States and to increase public awareness about human trafficking. Each grantee must sub-award at least 60 percent of grant funds received to local organizations that can identify and/or work with victims of human trafficking.
  • DOJ added six new enhanced model task forces to support a comprehensive, victim-centered approach to combating all forms of trafficking of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. In all six new awards, DOJ supports both law enforcement agencies and victim service organizations. DOJ also hosted regional training forums, released an online technical assistance tool, supported technical assistance requests, and conducted professional training with community stakeholders.
  • DOJ conducted 69 trafficking in persons programs in Fiscal Year 2011 to build prosecutorial capacity in 16 countries, and organized programs for over 278 foreign visitors to participate in training programs with DOJ’s human trafficking experts.
  • DOS conducted fair, transparent, and competitive grant reviews to support and maximize grassroots prevention, prosecution, and protection projects worldwide to address both sex and labor trafficking and support efforts focused on demand reduction, debt bondage, and forced child labor, among other things. As of January 2012, DOS funded 156 open and active anti-trafficking projects in 66 countries totaling $60.2 million. Additional funding went to labor programming that targets forced labor directly and engaged stakeholders to address underlying conditions that can lead to forced labor.
  • USAID produced two training films for frontline service providers, one focusing on post-rescue victim rehabilitation and the other on safe migration practices. USAID also conducted and supported extensive anti-human trafficking training programs for government, law enforcement, and NGO personnel in the East Asia region.

Integrate anti-human trafficking components into relevant government programs.

  • DHS increased its capacity to combat human trafficking through the Blue Campaign, an initiative to enhance departmental efforts. For the first time, 17 components collaborated on an integrated strategy. DHS also stood up a cross-component working group to proactively address concerns related to unaccompanied alien children.
  • DOL has integrated anti-trafficking components into existing temporary foreign worker programs. In particular, the department has increased program integrity and taken robust enforcement actions under the H-2A and H-2B programs, both of which enhance worker protections and may impact labor-related aspects of trafficking in persons. DOL also enforces broad federal minimum wage and overtime protections for other workers, including those who participate in the J visa program.
  • HHS identified existing runaway and homeless youth programs to integrate trafficking components into policies to maximize resources. HHS partnered with the FBI in a pilot program in four runaway and homeless youth programs to accomplish mutually agreed upon objectives and outcomes in the provision of services to trafficked children and youth.
  • DOT explored ways to raise awareness in addressing the role of transportation in human trafficking and is developing an online training module for its personnel.
  • DOJ implemented a directive within the department to enhance coordination among its components that work on issues relating to human trafficking.
  • USAID developed a new policy, enabling it to be a catalytic partner to combat trafficking by focusing efforts on concrete, measurable principles and objectives. In addition, USAID has formed an internal working group that is developing a standard operating procedure to prevent and respond to TIP abuses by contractors and grantees.
  • USAID is incorporating counter-trafficking language into solicitations for Feed the Future.
  • DOD commenced a Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative to identify existing programs and integrate trafficking components to maximize resources. DOD also evaluated contracts and enhanced contract monitoring procedures to increase and track the enforcement of the FAR provision prohibiting human trafficking and the procurement of commercial sex.
  • DOS distributes an anti-human trafficking brochure to all recipients of visas in certain visa classes vulnerable to trafficking, which generated nearly 1,200 calls to the NHTRC.
  • DOS integrated counter-human trafficking efforts and new regulations in its J-1 visa Summer Work Travel Program in an effort to reduce participants’ vulnerabilities to trafficking.
  • DOS, DOD, DOJ, DHS, USAID, the Department of the Treasury and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with the White House to ensure that one of the objectives of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security incorporated counter trafficking.
  • DOS supports International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) overseas that deliver instruction to foreign law enforcement officials to address and help counter international crimes including trafficking in persons. In calendar year 2011, the ILEAs trained over 500 international law enforcement officials on counter-human trafficking topics.
  • The Department of the Treasury, after having consulted with DOS, issued IRS guidance in January 2012 regarding restitution payments made mandatory by the TVPA to compensate trafficking victims. Notice 2012-12 clarified current law by advising taxpayers that such mandatory restitution payments are excluded from gross income and as such are non-taxable.
  • DOI, in consultation with DOS, is intending to incorporate human trafficking into the training at the Indian Police Academy for new officers.

Promote public awareness about modern slavery.

  • Prompted by interagency efforts to address the issue of victim identification and assistance, relevant SPOG agencies participated in a public listening session, hosted by DHS, which provided an opportunity for individuals to share ideas on victim services, federal government engagement with local communities, outreach to at-risk groups, and NGO and private sector initiatives and resources. Representatives from DOS, DOJ, HHS, DOL, and DOT joined.
  • DOD produced new Public Service Announcements, information cards in multiple languages, and awareness brochures for contractors on human trafficking. DOD also conducted a forum for U.S. Pacific Command to increase awareness of human trafficking.
  • Under the International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by DOS, U.S. officials at the federal, state, and local levels provided briefings to approximately 150 emerging foreign leaders and government officials with responsibilities related to trafficking in persons.
  • HHS distributed 772,328 Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign materials and posted online, in English and Spanish, its Rescue & Restore training video Look Beneath the Surface. HHS has 13 resource articles regarding Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Centers website:
  • DHS provides a suite of materials to enhance public awareness and explain the types of services and resources that are available to victims of human trafficking. These materials are widely disseminated, are available for order, and are distributed to foreign embassies through DOS and at U.S. points of entry. DHS has also created an award-winning public service announcement and advertisements in 64 different newspapers in many languages.
  • Through a DOS grant, the Fairtrade Fund developed the Slavery Footprint (, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives may intersect with modern slavery. To date, Slavery Footprint has captured the interest of nearly 3 million people representing more than 200 countries.
  • DOS collaborated with DHS to create a 15-minute online, interactive general awareness training on human trafficking, which is available on both DOS’s and DHS’s Internet sites. DOS is designing a version specific to department personnel in order to disseminate both in the United States and abroad to maximize the number of direct hire employees who complete this training.
  • DOS issued a Procurement Information Bulletin, which is applicable to all DOS domestic and overseas contracting activities and Regional Procurement Support Offices, providing guidance on how to monitor contracts for TIP compliance with the FAR’s zero tolerance policy, thereby addressing potential vulnerabilities for trafficking in DOS procurement.
  • ED maintains a website that provides districts with up-to-date information and consolidated resources relevant to child trafficking. The webpages provide in-depth information describing human trafficking, the extent to which it is an issue across the nation, its impact on schools, strategies for addressing it in a school setting, announcements about training opportunities, reports, and other publications. See
  • EEOC held a public meeting on human trafficking and conducted outreach to vulnerable populations. EEOC conducted 36 community events and over 1,100 people participated.

Spur innovation and improve capacity to combat modern slavery through data collection and research.

  • DOL released three reports on child labor and forced labor including: (1) the 2010 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor; (2) the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor; and (3) the Executive Order 13126 List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor. These reports continue to serve as important resources for the department to assess future technical assistance and research priorities as it seeks to combat child labor around the world.
  • Pursuant to mandates under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, DOL continues to provide funding for research related to child labor and forced labor in violation of international standards. DOL partially funded an ILO study titled Hard to See, Harder to Count: Survey Guidelines to Estimate Forced Labour of Adults and Children. This guidance provides a comprehensive approach to operationalizing what constitutes forced labor through a set of forced labor indicators; step-by-step guidance to survey implementation; sampling techniques; core questions that must be asked to discern forced labor; data analysis techniques; and ethical considerations.
  • USAID’s anti-TIP efforts in the Central Africa region are being enhanced and informed through a grant to IOM. Researchers have been trained to conduct TIP research and produce a final comprehensive report to inform U.S. Government decision-making for TIP programming.
  • USAID trained Congolese researchers to collect data to assess the Democratic Republic of Congo’s human trafficking situation. The findings will be released in a 2012 report.
  • DOJ sponsored three new research projects. The first is a detailed examination of traffickers and those that facilitate trafficking, focusing on who they are, why they engage in trafficking, and how they organize. The second is a detailed evaluation of an intake form for trafficking victims with an eye towards developing a common intake form for the United States. The last project focuses on labor trafficking and seeks to ascertain the reasons for under-reporting of this crime in the United States.
  • DOS supported both rigorous program evaluations and evidence-based research to identify trends, close knowledge gaps on human trafficking, and inform policy and practice. With DOS funding, IOM published a comprehensive report in some Southeast Asia countries. DOS also funded IOM to further expand its Global Human Trafficking Database, which contains primary data on more than 16,500 registered victims in more than 100 source and destination countries. DOS is also currently funding six ongoing research projects touching on issues of investigation, prosecution, victim protection, and shelter. DOS continues to support evaluability assessments, some of which have led to full scale outcome evaluations.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture, DOS, DOL, and non-government members agreed that a new phase of activities should be undertaken to explore whether there is a lasting role for the Guidelines for Eliminating Child and Forced Labor in Agricultural Supply Chains in the larger discussion about how to address child and forced labor in international agricultural supply chains.
  • ED is investigating best practices that can be replicated in school districts for addressing issues of human trafficking.
  • EEOC is altering its charge data system so it may be able to research and track human trafficking charges throughout the investigative and litigation process.

Gather and synthesize actionable intelligence to increase the number of domestic and international trafficking prosecutions.

  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) took steps to raise the profile on human trafficking activities across the Intelligence Community, which included efforts to link policymakers with members of the Intelligence Community. ODNI and DOS held a small targeted seminar with the goal of raising the Intelligence Community’s awareness about this issue.
  • DHS, along with DOJ and DOS, continues to play a leading role in the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center (HSTC), which was established to achieve greater integration and overall effectiveness in the U.S. Government’s efforts to combat human smuggling, trafficking in persons, and clandestine terrorist travel. HSTC coordinates activities to ensure that efforts are addressed globally. It also brings together federal agency subject matter experts from the policy, law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic arenas to work together and leverage all participating agencies’ expertise and authorities to address the global threat of illicit travel.