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Human Trafficking - A New Form of Slavery

President George W. Bush signs H.R. 972, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005.

President George W. Bush signs H.R. 972, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006. The bill directs the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Dept., and Dept. of Defense to incorporate anti-trafficking and protection measures for vulnerable populations, particularly women and children, into their post-conflict and humanitarian emergency assistance and program activities. White House photo by Eric Draper

Presidential Action

  • President Bush visited Tampa, Florida, to address the first national training conference on Human Trafficking in the United States: Rescuing Women and Children from Slavery.
  • The President continues to advance the fight against trafficking in persons, which is a modern day form of slavery. Human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States and throughout the world. Each year, an estimated 600,000-800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked against their will across international borders 14,500-17,500 of whom are trafficked into the United States. Victimsof trafficking are recruited, transported, or sold into all forms of forced labor and servitude, including prostitution, sweatshops, domestic labor, farming, and child armies. Approximately 80 percent of trafficking victims are female, and 70 percent of those female victims are trafficked for the commercial sex industry.
  • The President has taken strong action to combat trafficking at home and abroad. He supported and signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 and the PROTECT Act, both of which strengthen the tools law enforcement authorities use to combat trafficking crimes and ensure that victims of trafficking are rescued and supported. Since 2001, the Bush Administration has provided more than $295 million to support anti-trafficking programs in more than 120 countries.

New Steps to Provide Assistance to Victims and Combat Human Trafficking

  • Support for Local Anti-Trafficking Efforts in American Communities. The President announced Department of Justice (DOJ) funding to support and implement local efforts to identify, rescue, and restore victims of trafficking. DOJ will make available $14 million to law enforcement agencies and service providers, and as many as 25 communities across the country will be eligible to receive this funding. In addition, DOJ awarded $4.5 million today to nine local organizations that are running shelters where victims of trafficking can take refuge in the interval between rescue and the determination of eligibility for public assistance and other benefits.
  • Cooperation to Combat Trafficking. To ensure the smooth and timely delivery of benefits and services to trafficking victims and comprehensive investigations and prosecutions, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice are working together to share information and provide benefits to victims most in need. In addition, the charter for the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center went into effect July 2004 and brings together representatives from law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomacy to combat alien smuggling, trafficking in persons, and terrorist travel networks.
  • Comprehensive Anti-Trafficking State Laws. While many states have laws that address various aspects of the crime of trafficking in persons, comprehensive anti-trafficking statutes are needed to deter and punish the wide range of coercive tactics used by traffickers. To meet this need, DOJ has drafted a model anti-trafficking statute for states. Texas, Washington, Minnesota, Missouri, and Florida already have comprehensive state trafficking laws.
  • Support for Anti-Trafficking Initiatives Abroad. In his address to the United Nations in 2003, President Bush announced a $50 million initiative to combat trafficking in persons. The countries receiving funding include Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Moldova, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

Highlights of the President's Agenda to Combat Trafficking and Provide Assistance to Trafficking Victims

The President's On-going Initiatives to Combat Trafficking

Investigating and Prosecuting Trafficking Crimes. From FY 2001 to FY 2003, the Bush Administration opened 210 new investigations, which is more than double the number opened in the previous three fiscal years, and prosecuted 110 traffickers during this period, which is nearly a three-fold increase compared to the previous three fiscal years. With 3,200 arrests in the first year alone, the Department of Homeland Security's Operation Predator, launched in July 2003, targets those suspected of child sex crimes, including traffickers.

  • Anti-Trafficking Training. The Department of Justice continues to provide anti-trafficking training to Federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement agents and officers, to non-governmental organizations and to officials of foreign governments. DOJ is also developing a model curriculum for the victim-centered approach to identifying and rescuing trafficking victims and investigating and prosecuting their traffickers and abusers. DOJ also issues an annual report on trafficking within the United States.
  • Anti-Trafficking Task Forces. The Bush Administration has convened anti-trafficking task force coalitions in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Tampa and will create a dozen additional task forces this year. These task forces bring together Federal, state, local, and non-governmental sectors to combat trafficking and provide comprehensive assistance to victims. Additionally, public service announcements have been issued in Spanish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, and Korean to inform victims of their rights.
  • The President's Initiatives to Provide Assistance to Victims of Trafficking
    • Assistance for Victims of Trafficking. Since 2001, the President has provided more than $35 million to 36 faith-based and community organizations across the county to aid victims of trafficking with services such as emergency shelter, legal, mental, and health services and English-proficiency instruction. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services has launched a referral hotline to help victims escape by providing access to local service providers. Over 600 calls have been handled by the hotline since it began in April 2004. The Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline number is (888) 373-7888.
    • Immigration Relief for Trafficking Victims. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 created a new class of visa (T-visas) that allows trafficking victims to remain in the United States for three years with work authorization and access to benefits and services offered by HHS. At the end of three years, T-visa holders may apply for permanent residence. In 2002, DHS created a specially trained corps of adjudicators to handle applications for immigration relief for trafficking victims, and this team is steadily increasing the number of T-visas issued each year.
  • The President's Initiatives Abroad to Combat Trafficking and Provide Assistance to Victims
    • Support to Combat Trafficking and Provide Assistance to Victims Abroad. Since 2001, the President's budget has provided more than $295 million to support anti-trafficking programs in more than 120 countries. Funding goes to governments and non-governmental and international organizations to create specialized law enforcement units; train prosecutors and judges; strengthen anti-trafficking laws; provide emergency shelter and care for victims; offer voluntary repatriation assistance; make available long-term rehabilitation assistance and vocational training for victims; legal advocacy; psychological and medical assistance for victims; and launch information campaigns.
    • Cooperation for Investigating and Prosecuting Trafficking Crimes. Cooperation with other countries has contributed to the prosecution around the world of nearly 8,000 perpetrators of trafficking crimes, resulting in over 2,800 convictions. In addition, 24 countries have enacted new anti-trafficking legislation and 32 countries are in the process of drafting or passing new anti-trafficking legislation.
    • International Anti-trafficking Initiatives. Under the leadership of the United States and Norway, NATO adopted a comprehensive plan to help combat worldwide trafficking in persons in Istanbul in June 2004. NATO personnel will support the efforts of authorities in host countries to combat trafficking while working with non-governmental organizations and anti-trafficking experts.
    • Focused Attention to Combat Trafficking. In June 2004, the State Department issued a new Trafficking in Persons Report, which includes an analysis of 140 countries' efforts to combat trafficking, successful efforts worldwide, a summary of U.S. action to fight trafficking at home and new data on the scope of trafficking. Countries that are the worst offenders are now threatened with non-humanitarian sanctions.