Human Trafficking Prevention
January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month
On December 31, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation declaring January 2022 as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness and educate all members of society on how they can prevent and respond to human trafficking. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the progress that survivor leaders, anti-trafficking organizations, communities, and allied individuals have achieved through their ongoing efforts and contributions to ending human trafficking.
“Since human trafficking disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, vulnerable migrants, and other historically marginalized and underserved communities, our mission to combat human trafficking must always be connected to our broader efforts to advance equity and justice across our society.” -- President Biden
The proclamation emphasizes the importance of a whole-of-government approach and references the recently released National Combat Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. Through federal coordination and collaboration, “the plan links anti-trafficking initiatives to our wider efforts to counter illicit financing; advance gender and racial equity; expand the rights and dignity of working people; and promote safe, orderly, and humane migration.”
The proclamation calls on all of us—businesses, civil society organizations, communities of faith, families, and individuals—to work together to prevent human trafficking.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States.
In the United States, some of the most vulnerable populations include American Indian/Alaska Native communities, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning individuals, individuals with disabilities, undocumented immigrants, runaway and homeless youth, and low-income individuals. These victims are deceived by false promises of love, a good job, or a stable life and are lured or forced into situations where they are made to work under deplorable conditions with little or no pay.
Victims can be found in legal and illegal labor industries, including child care, elder care, the drug trade, massage parlors, hair salons, restaurants, hotels, factories, and farms. In some cases, victims are hidden behind doors in domestic servitude in a home. Others are in plain view, interact with people on a daily basis, and are forced to work under extreme circumstances in exotic dance clubs, construction, health and beauty services, or restaurants.
Indicators of Human Trafficking
Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.
U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline
The National Human Trafficking Hotline connects victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services and supports to get help and stay safe. The Trafficking Hotline also receives tips about potential situations of sex and labor trafficking and facilitates reporting that information to the appropriate authorities in certain cases.
The toll-free phone and SMS text lines and live online chat function are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Help is available in English or Spanish, or in more than 200 additional languages through an on-call interpreter.
Hearing and speech-impaired individuals can contact the Trafficking Hotline by dialing 711, the free national access number that connects to Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS).
The National Human Trafficking Hotline serves all individuals who reach out for our services regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or any other factor protected by local, state, or federal law.
Department of Justice
Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS): Prosecutes cases of child pornography, sex trafficking of children, parental child abduction, and sex tourism.
- Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU): Prosecutes human trafficking crimes.
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): works to enhance the Nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and to provide leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices in ways that will promote justice and healing for all victims.
Department of Health and Human Services
Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP): funds services for foreign national victims of trafficking and it funds regional grants to identify foreign victims of human trafficking and to conduct outreach activities. OTIP also provides certification and eligibility letters so that foreign national victims of trafficking are eligible to receive federal and state benefits to the same extent as a refugee. In addition, OTIP has a national public awareness campaign called Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking and funds the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): Provides technical assistance to the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces, and victim services funding for foreign national victims of trafficking, and pilot sites for U.S. citizen minor victims of trafficking.
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS): The Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS), in conjunction with Northeastern University, tracks and analyzes human trafficking crimes reported by the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces.
National Institute of Justice (NIJ): Funds research on human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP): Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces (ICAC) investigates internet-related crimes of child pornography and enticement, and implements a number of training and capacity-building initiatives related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).
- Civil Rights investigates crimes of human trafficking and participates in the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces.
- Crimes Against Children (CAC) Innocence Lost Initiative investigates crimes involving sex trafficking of children.
- Collaborates with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and CEOS.
Department of Homeland Security
- Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit investigates crimes of human trafficking primarily involving foreign national victims and participates in the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces and the Department's Blue Campaign.
- Child Exploitation/Operation Predator, in conjunction with FBI, NCMEC, DOJ and ICAC, investigates crimes of child sexual exploitation, child pornography, and child sex tourism in the U.S. and abroad.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Adjudicates applications for T and U visas which are available to foreign national victims of trafficking. Lawyers and advocates may check on the status of an already submitted case by calling the VAWA Unit Helpline at: 802-527-4888.
Department of Labor
- Labor Bureau of International Labor (ILAB): Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking publishes reports on international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking and provides funding to combat international child labor.
- Wage and Hour Division (WHD): Enforces federal labor laws including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act (AWPA) and assists with human trafficking investigations involving the violation of these laws.
Department of State
- Conducts awareness-raising activities, diplomacy with other countries, and funding for international anti-trafficking initiatives.
- Publishes the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which rates countries on their anti-trafficking efforts.
- Maintains a list of resources and information for individuals in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant work or travel visa.
Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center: A collaborative effort between the Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and functions as a centralized information center for smuggling, human trafficking and national security.
If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.