2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - United States of America
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||27 June 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - United States of America, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee393c.html [accessed 13 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
United States of America (Tier 1)
The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, document servitude, and sex trafficking. Trafficking occurs for commercial sexual exploitation in street prostitution, massage parlors, and brothels, and for labor in domestic service, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, hospitality industries, construction, health and elder care, and strip club dancing. Vulnerabilities are increasingly found in visa programs for legally documented students and temporary workers who typically fill labor needs in the hospitality, landscaping, construction, food service, and agricultural industries. There are allegations of domestic workers, foreign nationals on A-3 and G-5 visas, subjected to forced labor by foreign diplomatic or consular personnel posted to the United States. Combined federal and state human trafficking information indicates more sex trafficking than labor trafficking investigations and prosecutions, but law enforcement identified a comparatively higher number of labor trafficking victims as such cases uncovered recently have involved more victims. U.S. citizen victims, both adults and children, are predominantly found in sex trafficking; U.S. citizen child victims are often runaways, troubled, and homeless youth. Foreign victims are more often found in labor trafficking than sex trafficking. In 2010, the number of female foreign victims of labor trafficking served through victim services programs increased compared with 2009. The top countries of origin for foreign victims in FY 2010 were Thailand, India, Mexico, Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.
The U.S. government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government sustained strong federal law enforcement efforts, strengthening support for federal task forces and initiating efforts to improve coordination and proactively identify cases. The government continued to provide funding to NGOs for services to victims and identified an increased number of victims. Immigration relief, which may lead to residency and eventual citizenship, is offered to qualified victims and immediate family members. The government sustained its prevention efforts, continuing to examine federal procurement and specific visa categories for vulnerabilities as well as to undertake public awareness efforts. The U.S. government annually reports on its activities to combat human trafficking in a report compiled by the Department of Justice available at www.justice.gov/ ag/publications.htm including detailed information on funding and suggestions for improved performance.
Recommendations for the United States: Improve data collection on human trafficking cases at the federal, state and local levels; continue federal partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to encourage training, protocols, and dedicated and incentivized personnel at the state and local level; train field reporting collectors to recognize and report on human trafficking; mandate training in the detection of human trafficking for Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigators; increase the incorporation of anti-trafficking efforts into existing structures such as labor, child protection, education, housing, victim services, immigration courts, runaway/homeless youth, and juvenile justice programs; provide victim identification training for immigration detention and removal officers and conduct screening in immigration detention centers; increase funding for victim services, including legal services; offer comprehensive services to identified, eligible victims regardless of type of immigration relief sought, if any; increase training for consular officers to reduce vulnerabilities in visa programs; examine guestworker programs to reduce vulnerabilities; conduct briefings for domestic workers of foreign diplomats to ensure that they know their rights; improve oversight and enforcement of employment-based visas to forestall vulnerability and abuse; increase cooperation between the private and public sectors to encourage business practices that rid supply chains of human trafficking; and expand anti-trafficking outreach, services, and training in the insular areas.
The U.S. government demonstrated significant and sustained progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts through 2010. The United States prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through criminal statutes that were enacted almost 150 years ago in the wake of the U.S. Civil War to effectuate the Constitutional prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude. These statutes were updated and modernized by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and subsequent legislation. Enforcement of the involuntary servitude and slavery efforts has since been carried out under the umbrella term "trafficking in persons." U.S. law prohibits peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, sex trafficking, and servitude as well as confiscation or withholding of documents, such as passports. U.S. criminal law also prohibits conspiracy and attempt to violate these provisions, as well as obstructing enforcement of these provisions. Sex trafficking prosecutions involving minors do not require a showing of force, fraud, or coercion. Additional federal laws can also be utilized in trafficking prosecutions and traffickers may be convicted under those statutes instead of specific trafficking offenses.
Penalties prescribed under these statutes range from five to 20 years' imprisonment for peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and domestic servitude, and up to life imprisonment for aggravating circumstances. Penalties for sex trafficking range up to life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for sex trafficking of minors and 15 years for sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion or sex trafficking of minors under age 14. There is also a five-year maximum penalty for the related offense of fraud in foreign labor contracting under a related statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1351, which can be used in trafficking prosecutions. Under federal law, those who financially benefit through participation in a trafficking venture with knowledge or in reckless disregard of the trafficking conduct are subject to sentences equivalent to the underlying trafficking statutes. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed under U.S. law for other serious offenses, such as rape, kidnapping, or if death results from the trafficking situation.
Federal trafficking offenses are investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The federal government tracks its activities by Fiscal Year (FY) which runs from October 1 through September 30. In FY 2010, collectively federal law enforcement charged 181 individuals, and obtained 141 convictions in 103 human trafficking prosecutions (32 labor trafficking and 71 sex trafficking). These numbers do not reflect prosecutions of cases involving the commercial sexual exploitation of children that were brought under statutes other than the TVPA's sex trafficking provision. This represents the largest number of federal human trafficking prosecutions initiated in a single year, including large-scale, complex cases. In FY 2010, the average prison sentence imposed for federal trafficking crimes was 11.8 years and prison terms imposed ranged from three months to 54 years. In the past year, notable federal prosecutions included the longest sentence returned in a single-victim forced labor case – a 20-year sentence for holding a woman in domestic servitude for eight years; the initiation of the largest trafficking case to date involving the exploitation of over 600 Thai agricultural workers which is pending trial; multiple cases involving the systematic nonviolent coercion of groups of documented guestworkers; a life sentence in a sex trafficking case; convictions of 10 defendants in a multinational organized criminal conspiracy that exploited guestworkers in 14 states; and a bilateral enforcement initiative with Mexico resulting in indictments of sex trafficking networks under both U.S. and Mexican law.
Traffickers were also prosecuted under a myriad of state laws, but no comprehensive data is available on state prosecutions and convictions. All 50 states prohibit the prostitution of minors under state and local laws that predate the enactment of the TVPA. By the end of the reporting period, forty-five states had enacted specific anti-trafficking statutes using varying definitions and a range of penalties. Over the last decade, human trafficking cases under state statutes were initiated in 18 states. The majority of state cases involved child sex trafficking; at least three states used their state statutes for forced labor prosecutions. State laws are enforced by approximately 16,000 local, county and state agencies. While state prosecutions continue to increase, one study found that less than 10 percent of state and local law enforcement agencies surveyed had protocols or policies on human trafficking, and recommended augmented training, standard operational protocols, and dedicated personnel within police agencies.
The lack of uniform nationwide data collection remained an impediment to compiling fully accurate statistics. Activities were undertaken during the reporting period to address this issue, but differing data systems used by the diverse array of enforcement agencies now partnering on human trafficking issues remain difficult to integrate. Amendments to the TVPA in 2008 tasked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to incorporate human trafficking offenses in the annual statistics collected from police forces nationwide; development of technology to implement this mandate was underway during the reporting period and it is expected that collection will begin in early 2013. The Department of Defense (DoD) undertook a similar effort to amend its criminal data systems, but did not collect information during the reporting period. As part of their responsibilities under their federal grants, 39 task forces reported 750 investigations during the reporting period, although it is unknown how many were state versus federal investigations, how many convictions resulted, or to what extent the data included investigations that required stabilization of potential victims but that did not ultimately culminate in the official identification of victims under the TVPA.
DOJ continued to fund 39 anti-trafficking task forces nationwide, each comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement investigators and prosecutors, labor enforcement, and a nongovernmental victim service provider. DOJ implemented a number of new measures to address critiques that state law enforcement participation mainly continued pre-existing programs to combat commercial vice and that the success of the task forces had varied widely. To further develop best practices, DOJ funded three Enhanced Collaboration Model Task Forces in Illinois, California, and Texas, in which state and federal law enforcement agencies and service providers addressed sex and labor trafficking whether victims were citizen or noncitizen, adult or child. DOJ, in cooperation with the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor, also announced the creation of Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams to bring together federal investigators and prosecutors to develop and implement coordinated, proactive federal interagency investigations and prosecutions in select areas nationwide. The Department of State announced the creation of a dedicated anti-trafficking unit within the headquarters staff of the Diplomatic Security Service.
Efforts continued to incorporate civil enforcement in the anti-trafficking response. The Department of Labor (DOL) carries out civil law enforcement in the nation's workplaces and its field investigators are often the first government authorities to detect exploitative labor practices; the investigators then coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to ensure restitution on behalf of trafficking victims. DOL investigators have not yet been funded, trained, or given the mandate to focus on human trafficking cases and did not receive mandatory trafficking-specific training during the reporting period. Anti-trafficking activities have not been funded or disseminated to labor and employment agencies within state and territorial governments. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates discrimination charges against employers, held a public hearing devoted to human trafficking, taking testimony on identification and remediation of trafficking cases and identifying possible future actions. DOJ began partnering with the EEOC to strengthen referrals and protocols and to develop victim identification training for EEOC attorneys and investigators. During the reporting period, the EEOC completed two investigations and filed civil actions against the alleged traffickers; two other investigations were ongoing at the close of the reporting period.
There were no reports of official complicity in human trafficking during the reporting period.
The U.S. government undertook considerable law enforcement training efforts during the reporting period. In collaboration with NGOs, DOJ launched an online task force resource guide, and conducted a national training for 700 task force members and law enforcement, governmental, and nongovernmental partners, which included advanced training to identify, investigate, and prosecute human trafficking cases and assist human trafficking victims. The national training conference was followed by a series of regional conferences to build upon the exchanges of expertise at the national conference. The DOJ task forces trained over 24,278 law enforcement officers and other persons likely to come into contact with human trafficking victims. The FBI provided comprehensive anti-trafficking training to over 1,000 new agents and support personnel and specialized training for agents assigned to the FBI Civil Rights squads in field offices around the country as well as training 960 state and local law enforcement officers. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided advanced training to 72 veteran U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agents and overview training to all agents attending the ICE Training Academy, and updated mandatory training for more than 40,000 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents. DHS launched web-based training and continued in-person trainings that reached more than 14,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials during the reporting period. Information about services for human trafficking victims is included in the training offered to participating agencies in cooperative agreements following section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes state and local law enforcement agencies to carry out enforcement of certain immigration authorities related to the investigation, apprehension, and detention of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. NGOs reported instances in which noncitizen trafficking victims in 287(g) locations were fearful to report crimes. DoD continued mandatory training to its law enforcement personnel on identification, investigation, and information sharing with civilian and host nation law enforcement agencies.
The U.S. government demonstrated sustained protection efforts, increased numbers of victims assisted, and continued efforts to address challenges to increase identification and service provision. The U.S. government has formal procedures to guide officials in victim identification and referrals to victim services provided by NGOs, and funds an NGO-operated national hotline and referral service.
The U.S. government and its federally funded trafficking victim service providers encouraged foreign national and U.S. citizen victims to assist with investigations and prosecutions. The TVPA provides two principal types of immigration relief to foreign trafficking victims: 1) continued presence, which allows temporary immigration relief and may allow work authorization for victims who are also potential witnesses in an investigation or prosecution; and 2) T nonimmigrant status or "T visas," which allow for legal immigration status for up to four years for victims who cooperate with reasonable law enforcement requests for assistance with an investigation or prosecution. Testimony against the trafficker, conviction of the trafficker, or formal denunciation of the trafficker is not required, nor is sponsorship or approval by an investigating agency. Victims may also apply for T visas on behalf of certain family members, including spouses and unmarried children under 21, parents and minor unmarried siblings of victims under 21, and parents and minor unmarried siblings of victims 21 and over if the relative faces danger as a result of the victim's escape from the trafficker or cooperation with law enforcement. T visa holders and their family members are authorized to work and after three years are then eligible for permanent residence status and eventual citizenship.
Also available is U nonimmigrant status or a "U visa," which allows for legal immigration status for up to four years for victims of certain crimes, including trafficking, who cooperate or are willing to cooperate with reasonable law enforcement requests in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity. An arrest, prosecution, or conviction is not required. Victims may also apply for U visas on behalf of certain family members, including spouses and minor children, and parents and minor siblings of victims under 21. U visa holders and their family members are authorized to work, and after three years are then eligible for permanent residence status and eventual citizenship.
In FY 2010, continued presence was issued to 186 potential victim-witnesses, a decrease from 299 last year. T visas were granted to 447 victims and 349 immediate family members of victims, representing an increase from 313 and 273, respectively, last year. Five hundred and eighteen T visa holders, including 309 victims and 209 family members, became lawful permanent residents in FY 2010, which puts them on a path to obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Unlike T visas, the number of U visas granted to trafficking victims is not tracked.
Foreign nationals in the United States without a lawful immigration status generally are not eligible for federal public benefits such as food assistance and health care programs; there are exceptions, including services provided by homeless shelters and emergency medical assistance. When continued presence is granted or a potential victim has made a bona fide application for a T visa, HHS can issue a certification letter. That enables the victim to receive public benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee, which includes targeted assistance with income, health care, and employment searches as well as access to all assistance programs available to citizens. In FY 2010, 449 such certifications were issued to foreign adults and 92 eligibility letters were issued to foreign children, an increase from 330 for adults and 50 for children in FY 2009. Certified victims came from 47 countries. Primary countries of origin for foreign victims were Thailand, India, Mexico, Honduras, Philippines, Haiti, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. Fifty-five percent of foreign adult victims were labor trafficking victims, of which 70 percent were men and 30 percent were women; 12 percent were adult sex trafficking victims, all of whom were women; and 10 percent were victims of both sex and labor trafficking. Sixty-two percent of foreign child victims were labor trafficking victims, of which half were boys and half were girls; 29 percent were sex trafficking victims, of which 30 percent were boys; and nine percent were victims of both labor and sex trafficking.
From July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, DOJ and HHS provided trafficking victim assistance funding to NGOs that served at least 1,472 potential victims (foreign nationals and citizens), more than double the number served in 2009; the exact number is unknown because some victims were assisted with funding from both agencies but an unduplicated count is not available. Adult victims who were citizens, including Native Americans, are not included in the number of victims served. In 2010, DOJ released a new funding opportunity that includes a focus on adult U.S. citizen victims that can also serve Native Americans. DOJ took steps to gauge the need and the type of culturally competent services required to assist trafficked Native Americans with the hope that a pilot project can be developed in the future, and provided specialized training to law enforcement and service providers in jurisdictions serving Native American communities.
Federally funded victim assistance included services coordination and referrals, medical care, dental care, mental health treatment, sustenance and shelter, translation and interpretation, immigration and legal assistance, and transportation. In FY 2010, DOJ provided grant funding to 34 NGO service providers to assist foreign nationals and six to assist U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident victims, and HHS provided funding for services that were delivered by more than 100 NGO service providers.
DOJ used an increase in victim services funding to create the Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Forces, with half of the funding applicable for services. The other half supported law enforcement investigations and coordination aimed at identifying victims. As increasing numbers of victims have been identified and assisted, HHS has directed an increasing percentage of available funding toward services for victims, their family members, and potential victims. The NGO contractor of the HHS services program reports having contributed non-government funds to support this effort.
Under the HHS services program, there is a maximum reimbursement amount allowed per month for each victim and a maximum number of months during which a victim may be assisted, with some exceptions allowed. NGOs reported cases in which the limits have been reached and they are no longer providing services to the victim before a case came to trial. However, once a victim is certified by HHS or, in the case of a minor, receives an eligibility letter from HHS, that individual is eligible for services, including income supports, health care, and social services, through the provider network that assists refugees resettle in the United States. While legal services are often crucial to access civil and immigration remedies and undertake the advocacy necessary to navigate the complex federal system of benefits and the justice system, the HHS services program does not allow reimbursement for immigration legal assistance. In 2010, DOJ extended its program to offer this assistance. Should a foreign national victim decide not to report the crime or comply with reasonable law enforcement requests, DOJ and HHS funded services must in most cases be terminated; approval for continuation on a case-by-case basis is sometimes granted, and the law provides an exception to the cooperation requirement where physical or psychological trauma renders a victim unable to participate in an investigation or prosecution. Services under the HHS services program must be discontinued if an adult victim pursues long-term immigration relief other than the T visa.
NGOs reported isolated incidents of officers citing victims risking withdrawal of benefits when faced with reluctant victims; NGOs also reported continued challenges in getting law enforcement to recognize reluctant victims for protection purposes. Law enforcement continued to face challenges in identifying child victims of sex trafficking, particularly because the victims are often provided false identification by their traffickers and at least initially self-identified as adults. There was no targeted federal funding to support state child welfare agencies' anti-trafficking efforts. In some states, state child welfare agencies' missions did not formally extend to human trafficking, focusing instead on children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by caretakers and have not been expanded to reflect the anti-trafficking policy developments of the last decade. NGOs reported that these programs generally did not assist children over 14 years of age. State and local law enforcement, in some jurisdictions, was hampered by a lack of mandates, protocols, and training to identify and respond to child trafficking victims. The challenge of incorporating modern anti-trafficking concepts into these existing institutions has resulted in misidentification and referrals to juvenile justice or immigration systems rather than protective services. During the reporting period, the states of Illinois, Georgia, New York, Connecticut, and Florida created new procedures to increase identification or conducted initiatives to train child protection workers on human trafficking.
When an unaccompanied child (UAC) comes to the attention of federal authorities, those children are usually put into the care and custody of HHS, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Division of Unaccompanied Children's Services (DUCS). DUCS screens UACs to identify potential victims of trafficking. UACs who may be trafficking victims are referred to the ORR Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATIP) for an eligibility determination. If the UAC is found to be a trafficking victim by ORR/ATIP, they are eligible for federal long-term foster care through the same program that cares for unaccompanied refugee minors who come to the United States. UACs who are not determined to be victims of trafficking by ORR/ ATIP remain in the ORR/DUCS program until they reunify with a sponsor in the United States, age-out of care, return to their home country, or adjust their legal immigration status. Children may also be referred directly to ORR/ATIP for assistance without being placed in the ORR/DUCS program. Sometimes service providers believe a child may be a trafficking victim but HHS cannot substantiate the claim.
A study of UACs in immigration proceedings, a population vulnerable to trafficking, indicated a substantial gap between the number of children service providers identified as victims and the number of children who received federal benefits. For those unaccompanied children who may be trafficking victims and in deportation proceedings, the 2008 amendment of the TVPA allows for procedural protections such as access to counsel and child advocates. HHS funds projects to coordinate pro bono legal assistance and child advocates. Funding of direct counsel is not permitted, and not all of these children are matched with a pro bono attorney that is willing to volunteer their time to represent the child. In practice, child advocates are not always provided for these children as child advocate programs are only available in few areas due to funding constraints.
While federal, state and local grant programs exist for vulnerable children, including those who are on the streets, NGOs reported that identified child trafficking victims faced difficulties accessing needed services. HHS-funded short-term shelter programs served 44,000 homeless and runaway youth and more than 800,000 youth received contact from an HHS-funded street outreach worker, but these programs require training and specialized services to be able to identify and assist child trafficking victims. HHS conducted training for runaway and homeless youth services in an effort to fill this gap. Additionally, the executive branch proposed additional funding for training within the runaway and homeless youth system to identify, prevent and address sex trafficking of minors. DOJ continued grants for services coordination, technical assistance, and comprehensive services to U.S. citizen child victims of both sex and labor trafficking; 45 citizen child victims received services through this program.
In 2010, the United States' Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification Program for Victims of Trafficking reunited 165 family members with trafficked persons in the United States and assisted three victims in returning to their country of origin. In September, 2010, due to lack of funding, the program was suspended; approximately 89 individuals are on a waiting list for assistance, unable to reunify with their family members in the United States.
While the TVPA sets forth a federal victim protection framework and principles that covers victims in all 50 states and territories, such protections were not also codified in most state laws. Nine of 50 states, as well as Washington, DC, offered state-funded public benefits to trafficking victims; 18 permitted victims to bring civil lawsuits; seven encouraged law enforcement to provide supporting documentation for T visa applications; 21 instituted mandatory restitution; and nine required that victims' names and/or locations be kept confidential. DOJ took positive steps to eliminate barriers, educate administrators, and encourage the states to use the federal Crime Victims Fund to fund mainstream crime victim service providers to assist trafficking victims.
The TVPA provides that victims should not be inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. NGOs reported identifying increased numbers of potential victims in deportation proceedings and immigration detention. The prostitution of children has traditionally been handled by some state governments as a vice crime or a juvenile justice issue, and the anti-trafficking approach of the TVPA has been slow to fully permeate the state juvenile justice system. DOJ made efforts to engage state juvenile justice professionals in order to increase identification of minor trafficking victims and has trained state prosecutors. In 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, 235 males and 844 females under 18 years of age were reported to the FBI as having been arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice, an increase from 206 males and 643 females in 2008. Jurisdictions continued to formulate varying responses to help decrease arrests and view trafficked persons as victims; several states passed laws decriminalizing children found in prostitution, diverting arrested children into shelters and services, or allowing prostitution convictions to be expunged.
DHS hired six additional Victim Assistance Specialists nationwide, bringing the total to 18 human trafficking specialists and 250 generalists who are trained on the issue. All asylum field offices conducted training on identifying trafficking victims in the context of affirmative asylum adjudications, and this training is required for all incoming asylum officers. CBP has mandatory training and protocols in place to screen unaccompanied children for trafficking victimization. A study reported that the screenings are not effective because they are not conducted in a child appropriate manner by child welfare specialists in appropriate facilities. As in the last reporting period, detention and removal officers did not receive training on victim identification and did not conduct screenings in immigration detention centers. HHS conducted online trainings on identification, outreach and services and the HHS hotline center conducted general awareness and identification trainings nationwide. The Department of Education increased efforts to provide educational resources to school districts to help them prevent, identify and respond to human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, training chiefs of school police forces and surveying school districts for promising practices that can be disseminated nationwide. States have not yet created programs to increase awareness or identification within schools.
The U.S. government made significant progress on addressing prevention throughout the reporting period, continuing efforts to ensure government procurement is free from forced labor, examine visa categories for vulnerabilities, and conduct public awareness activities. The Cabinet-level President's Interagency Task Force (PITF) is statutorily directed to coordinate federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons. The Senior Policy Operating Group, which meets quarterly and consists of senior officials designated as representatives by PITF members, coordinates interagency policy, grants, research, and planning issues involving international trafficking and the implementation of the TVPA.
The U.S. government undertook multiple efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex and forced labor. The Departments of Agriculture, Labor, and State completed recommendations to Congress on how to reduce the likelihood that imported agricultural products and commodities are produced with the use of forced labor and child labor. The Departments of State and Defense were part of a multi-stakeholder process that led to 60 private security companies signing on to an International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. These companies pledged to uphold a number of principles in their company policies and in the conduct of their personnel, including not engaging in human trafficking, sexual exploitation, or prostitution. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a code of conduct that prohibits USAID contractors, subcontractors, grantees, and sub-grantees during the period of performance of their contracts or awards from engaging in trafficking in persons, procuring commercial sex acts, or using forced labor. DOL published an updated list of 128 goods from 70 countries that DOL had reason to believe were produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards, and released the ninth annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and a revised list of products produced by forced or indentured child labor. DHS continued to enforce the prohibition against importing such products under the relevant statute, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. New legislation was proposed but not passed to increase enforcement capabilities in this area. DoD continued its demand reduction campaign to help make contractors, government personnel, and military members aware of common signs of human trafficking and hotline numbers to report suspected incidents. Enforcement of the zero-tolerance policy involved two service members who were punished for prostitution offenses, which included withholding promotions, reducing grades, levying fines, and restricting movement to the base.
State and local jurisdictions also engaged in a number of efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex. Some jurisdictions tested various combinations of arrests, shaming, and education of apprehended purchasers of prostitution. NGOs devoted to ending demand for commercial sex developed school curricula, conducted outreach campaigns, and worked with law enforcement. Reports continued to reflect significant numbers of arrests for commercial sexual activity. Data continued to reflect the arrests of more women than men for such activity; state and local law enforcement arrested 38,593 women versus 16,968 men for prostitution offenses and commercialized vice in 2009, the year for which the most recent data is available.
Allegations against federal contractors engaged in commercial sex and labor exploitation continued to surface in the media. During the reporting period, allegations were investigated and one employee was dismissed by a DoD contractor. The Inspectors General at the Departments of State and Defense and USAID continued their audits of federal contracts to monitor vulnerability to human trafficking and issued public reports of their findings and reparations. USAID also created an entity dedicated to proactively tracking contractor compliance with the authority to suspend contracts and debar contracting firms, a positive step toward increasing enforcement in this area. No prosecutions occurred and no contracts were terminated.
The U.S. government continued prevention efforts within its temporary worker and student programs. The A-3 and G-5 visa categories allow persons to enter the United States as domestic workers of foreign diplomatic or consular personnel ("foreign mission personnel") or foreign employees of international organizations. The Department of State continued its ongoing work to help protect these visa holders, including implementing a system to track the visa application process of A-3 and G-5 visa holders, to require their payment into bank accounts, and to track allegations of abuse. During the reporting period, there were more than a dozen allegations of various forms of abuse and domestic servitude, including civil lawsuits against, and criminal investigations of, foreign mission personnel. The Department of State put procedures in place to closely review and, where appropriate, to deny A-3 and G-5 visas for 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 determines that there is credible evidence that a domestic worker was abused and that the mission tolerated the abuse; no suspensions occurred within the reporting period. However, the threat of suspension has been effective in alerting missions to the importance the Department places on the treatment of domestic workers and the need for missions to ensure that domestic workers are treated in accordance with Department guidance. The Department also issued new guidelines on prevailing wages for domestic workers employed by foreign mission personnel, including a prohibition against lodging deductions for live-in workers, and capping the percentage of salary that can be assessed for three meals per day at 20 percent. A-3 and G-5 visa holders who filed civil lawsuits against their former employers were eligible for temporary immigration relief and work authorization.
DOJ and DHS led several investigations and prosecutions for trafficking of temporary agricultural workers on H-2A visas and temporary hospitality, food service, and construction workers on H-2B visas. Employers who have committed certain violations of the temporary worker programs may be barred from filing future applications for a three-year period; five H-2B employers – the first ever – and three H-2A employers were barred during the reporting period, for a total of eight debarred employers. A DOL regulation came into effect during the reporting period that strengthened protections for agricultural guestworkers by prohibiting foreign recruiters from charging workers certain fees. Reports indicate that recruiters adjusted their practices by charging fees after the workers had obtained their visas and levying charges under the guise of "service fees," which are permitted under the regulation; indebtedness prior to arrival in the United States is a common mechanism of making victims vulnerable to control and compelled work. Recruiters discouraged former workers from reporting labor violations, claiming that U.S. embassies or consulates would not grant future visas for those who complain – assertions that are false and contrary to U.S. law. Workers also feared seeking assistance because of blacklisting and other retaliation against workers who complain about their conditions. The new regulation addresses these issues by imposing on employers an affirmative obligation against retaliation, the failure of which can result in removal from program participation.
During the reporting period, the Department of State received a significant increase in the number of complaints regarding the J-1 Summer Work Travel program, which provides foreign students an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university. Complaints were reported from foreign governments, program participants, their families, concerned American citizens, the media, law enforcement agencies, other federal and local agencies, and the Congress. These included reports of fraudulent job offers, inappropriate jobs, job cancellations on arrival, insufficient number of work hours, and housing and transportation problems. To minimize the risk that J-1 Summer Work Travel program participants may become victims of crime, the Department adopted new program-wide regulations and undertook a pilot program requiring verified employment prior to arrival in the United States, prohibiting the use of third party staffing agencies, and enhanced oversight by the Department of State.
The U.S. government continued measures to inform and educate the public, including potential victims, about the causes and consequences of human trafficking. HHS distributed public multi-lingual awareness materials, including brochures, fact sheets and posters, as part of an extensive nationwide campaign that began in 2004 and funded an NGO to operate a national hotline. In FY 2010, the hotline received a total of 11,381 phone calls, an increase of more than 4,000 from the previous year. The hotline received a broad range of calls, from information requests and wage disputes to exploitation and abuse. Of all legally documented foreign nationals, the national human trafficking hotline received the highest number of calls from J-1, H-2A, H-2B, A-3 and G-5 visa holders. HHS also funded 18 projects to conduct outreach, public awareness, and identification efforts. Embassies and consulates worldwide continued distribution of a "know your rights" pamphlet and oral briefings for approved student or work-based visa applicants – efforts which resulted in 624 calls to the national hotline in FY 2010. DHS launched the "Blue Campaign," an initiative to coordinate and enhance the Department's anti-human trafficking activities. International and domestic awareness campaigns included multi-lingual television and radio announcements, billboards, newspaper advertisements, victim assistance materials, and indicator cards for law enforcement. DHS also expanded online resources, including social media, and distributed a virtual toolkit to employers in the lodging, transportation, entertainment, agricultural, manufacturing and construction industries. DOL launched a nationwide campaign to inform low-wage workers in such industries as construction, janitorial work, hotel services, food services and home health care about their rights and how to recover wages owed; the campaign did not include specific anti-trafficking information.
The United States does not directly participate in UN peacekeeping and has only a minimal presence within those operations. Nevertheless, pre-deployment anti-trafficking training takes place for all military personnel. DoD updated its mandatory general human trafficking awareness training, with the potential to reach 3.5 million military members and civilian employees.
U.S. laws provide extraterritorial jurisdiction over child sex tourism offenses perpetrated overseas by U.S. citizens. DHS made seven criminal arrests resulting in five indictments and six convictions in child sex tourism cases in FY 2010.
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), which participated in the President's Interagency Task Force in 2010. 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 insular areas are a destination for men and women subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, and forced prostitution.
In the Territory of American Samoa, there were no new reported human trafficking cases. The legislature did not pass a bill, introduced in October 2009, which would have criminalized human trafficking as a felony offense.
In CNMI, there were six reported human trafficking cases involving multiple victims held in clubs, restaurants and massage parlors. A trend was observed involving the cancellation of victims' return airplane tickets upon admission, stranding them with no financial means to return and rendering them wholly dependent on their employers. During the reporting period, the Federal Labor Ombudsman identified 71 victims of trafficking or fraud in labor contracting, of whom about 20 percent were sex trafficking victims. In 2010, the NGO working on the local anti-trafficking task force assisted 36 human trafficking victims and 40 fraud in labor contracting victims; an additional 31 victims qualified for services but could not be assisted due to insufficient funds.
In the Territory of Guam, DOJ prosecuted a multi-victim sex trafficking case, convicting a karaoke bar owner who forced multiple young women from Chu'uk in the Federated States of Micronesia and one juvenile girl into prostitution. The Guam legislature did not address a draft bill that would have closed loopholes that allow massage parlors to conduct illicit activities. There continued to be concern that a military build-up on Guam could involve labor exploitation and trafficking of the thousands of guestworkers expected; efforts were made by federal actors to have this considered in the planning stages. DOJ led a coordinated effort to identify human trafficking cases, provide services to victims, and bring the traffickers to justice in Guam and the CNMI. Uniquely, this effort included participation of foreign consulates from source countries and cross-training with investigators and other government officials from other Pacific jurisdictions.
In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico there were no reported trafficking cases. NGOs worked to bring the issue to the attention of the legislature, law enforcement, service providers and the public at large. Puerto Rico had no local anti-trafficking law; there is an outstanding proposal to revise the penal code to include trafficking. There were no local government efforts or coordination with federal authorities to address human trafficking.
There were no documented cases of human trafficking in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, ICE officers in the U.S. Virgin Islands were placed on alert for potential human trafficking, but no victims were identified.