October 20, 2021, marked the first anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT). The CCHT, led by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is a DHS-wide effort dedicated to bringing human traffickers to justice, protecting victims of sex trafficking and forced labor, and preventing these terrible crimes from occurring.
In recognition of the CCHT and to continue to advance its critical work, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas directed DHS components to incorporate a victim-centered approach into all policies, programs and activities governing DHS interactions with victims of crime.
“The victim-centered approach is critical to the work of the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking and to the Department’s fight against all crimes involving severe abuse and exploitation,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “Safeguarding, supporting, and respecting victims of human trafficking is not just the right thing to do. It also enables law enforcement to better detect, investigate, and prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking.”
DHS also announced several new initiatives across components to combat sex trafficking and forced labor:
- ICE HSI issued a directive underscoring HSI personnel’s responsibility to identify and assist victims of crime.
- The CCHT launched a new public website at DHS.Gov/CCHT to bring together all DHS anti-human trafficking resources in one easily accessible place.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the first-ever standalone T-Visa Resource Guide for law enforcement and certifying agencies. The T-Visa Resource Guide provides information to licensing agencies, including law enforcement, on supporting victims of human trafficking while law enforcement investigates and prosecutes these crimes. USCIS also released updated and comprehensive T-visa policy guidance for agency adjudicators to clarify requirements for T-Visa eligibility.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that, in addition to the seven Withhold Release Orders (WROs) and two Findings already issued in Fiscal Year 2021 to protect American consumers and businesses from goods made by forced labor, additional enforcement actions are expected in the coming days. As part of its mission to investigate and prevent goods produced by forced labor from entering U.S. commerce, CBP has detained 1,469 shipments containing nearly $500 million of goods suspected to be made by forced labor in FY2021 alone.
- Finally, the DHS Blue Campaign continues to educate the public, law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders through partnerships, advertisements, and social media about the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it.