U.S. Government Domestic Anti-Trafficking Efforts
The United States Government (USG) in 2006 continued to advance the goal of eradicating human trafficking in the United States. This coordinated effort includes several federal agencies and approximately $28.5 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 for domestic programs to boost anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, identify and protect victims of trafficking, and raise awareness of trafficking as a means of preventing new incidents.
While significant progress has been made, the U.S. Government continues to seek improvement in its efforts to address trafficking within the borders of the United States. For example, the U.S. Government, its state and local partners, and NGOs strive to improve coordination of services to victims. This includes efforts to find victims, track the support they receive from the U.S. Government and U.S. Government grantees, and coordinate efforts to effectively provide services. For a complete assessment of USG efforts to combat trafficking in persons, please visit the Department of Justice Web site: http://www.usdoj.gov/whatwedo/whatwedo_ctip.html
The United States Government continued its efforts to improve anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the reporting period. The United States prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through criminal statutes created or strengthened by the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which prescribes penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment-penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes. In FY 2006, the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys' Offices initiated 168 investigations, charged 111 individuals, and obtained 98 convictions (including in cases initiated in previous fiscal years). Under the TVPA, traffickers can be sentenced to up to 20 years' imprisonment. The average sentence imposed for trafficking crimes in FY 2005 was 8.5 years (including defendants convicted in other fiscal years). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and DOJ Criminal Division continued to combat the exploitation of children in prostitution in the United States through the Innocence Lost National Initiative; in FY 2006, this Initiative resulted in 103 open investigations, 157 arrests, 76 indictments, and 43 convictions.
State and local governments also made significant law enforcement efforts against trafficking in persons. By the end of 2006, 27 states had passed criminal anti-trafficking legislation. DOJ and Health and Human Services (HHS) continue to increase the number of anti-trafficking task forces, coalitions, and outreach efforts across the United States. DOJ funded 42 task forces at the end of FY 2006, up from 32 in FY 2005. These task forces bring together state, local, and federal law enforcement with partners from NGOs.
In 2006, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) began developing resources to help investigators identify potential trafficking issues and began introducing trafficking issues into its investigator training curriculum. During the past year, WHD staff participated in over 30 local, multi-agency task forces on trafficking.
The U.S. Government continued to provide strong victim protection services over the year. As of March 2007, HHS had certified 1,175 victims of human trafficking from 77 countries since the TVPA was signed into law in October 2000. In FY 2006, HHS certified 234 foreign victims of human trafficking from a remarkably diverse array of countries. Primary sources in FY 2006 of victims were El Salvador (62), Mexico (47), Republic of Korea (20), and Honduras (17). Certification allows human trafficking survivors to access services and benefits, comparable to assistance provided by the U.S. to refugees. HHS established in April 2006 a Per-Capita Services Contract to provide "anytime, anywhere" services to human trafficking victims. As of March 2007, the contract had enlisted 93 social service agencies to provide care to victims across the country.
In FY 2006, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued 192 T-visas to foreign survivors of human trafficking identified in the United States and 106 T-visas to their immediate family members. T-visas are a special visa category resulting from the TVPA. Cumulatively through FY 2006, DHS has issued a total of 729 visas to human trafficking survivors, and another 645 T-visas to members of their family.
As part of the assistance provided under the TVPA, the Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration funds the Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification Program for Victims of Trafficking. Since its launch in 2005, and through April 2007, the program assisted a total of 67 persons from 22 countries. Of the cases assisted, 5 victims of trafficking elected to return to their country of origin, and 62 family members were reunited with trafficking survivors in the United States.
Prevention efforts were sustained over the year, as HHS continued to fund the Rescue & Restore public awareness campaign and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center with an information hotline that has received more than 4,000 calls since it started in February 2004. The Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General in November 2006 completed and released publicly a department-wide evaluation of DOD efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The overall assessment concluded that DOD has made significant progress in implementing a comprehensive program.