A Look inside the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report – Part 3

by Steffanie Preston

An Overview of the United States: Tier 1

Read Part 1 or Part 2

The U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons releases a report known as the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) annually. The purpose of this document is to address, educate, and potentially solve human trafficking issues.  Each year when the report is released, we at Just Ask take time to look over it to see the progress that has been made on this important issue, both domestically and internationally.  We will break down the major takeaways of this year’s report in a series of three blog posts.  This final entry takes a look at the United State’s ranking, successes, and goals for improvement.

Role of the United States of America

The United States was placed on Tier 1 for the government’s sustained and serious efforts to eliminate human trafficking during the Fiscal Year 2018. The State Department worked to prioritize specific topics, including an increase in the investigation and prosecution of labor trafficking cases and maintaining a working relationship between immigration law enforcement and human trafficking enforcement or victim protections. Many topics focused on issues regarding individuals with immigration status. Furthermore, training for both prosecutors and judges on how victim services should be carried out is being prioritized, as well as developing a way in which the demand for commercial sexual exploitation can be decreased.

While the number of human trafficking investigations and prosecutions decreased during the 2018 fiscal year, the United States was able to increase the number of convictions against identified traffickers. The Department of Justice (DOJ)  successfully convicted 526 traffickers in FY 2018 compared to 499 traffickers in FY 2017. The criminal liability on intentional promotion by multiple website and technology platforms increased. The Department of Homeland Security expanded its victim assistance specialists and forensic interview specialists by 70% during the 2018 fiscal year who then worked with human trafficking investigators. The DOJ and DHS held close ties with Mexico during FY 2018 to dismantle the human trafficking networks that are constructed across the border. Across the United States, prosecutors and law enforcement worked on training that increased their ability to identify victims of human trafficking.

More Government Funding for Victim Assistance and Increase Training Opportunities

The United States increased its funding for victim assistance; however, it also decreased the amount of trafficking-specific immigration opportunities available. The DOJ funded multiple providers as well as smaller amounts of training and assistance. Health and Human Services funded services to foreign nationals that served 1,612 victims and victim families in almost every state and U.S. territory. HHS also provided funds for domestic victims in 12 states, as well as for the child welfare system. HHS constructed training to increase the ability of child protective services to identify foreign national child trafficking victims and implemented standards for benefit eligibility.

Most of the United States’ prevention methods for the 2018 fiscal year focused on increased training and educational opportunities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) coordinated multiple events with law enforcement agencies as well as with non-government organizations to increase knowledge and training. These events were designed to spread awareness of the DHS’ Blue Campaign and focused on incorporating the input of the human trafficking survivor’s community. The report praised the US’ efforts to provide legal services, training, and technical assistance to establish anti-trafficking task forces in U.S. owned territories in addition to the states.

The United States, Mexico, and the Philippines are the leading countries of origin for trafficking victims that were federally identified in the 2018 fiscal year. Within the United States, the child welfare system includes the most vulnerable population of trafficking victims. In addition to the child welfare system, the United States sees vulnerable populations within the juvenile justice system, among illegal immigrants, the LGBTI community, individuals with substance abuse problems, as well as other vulnerable groups. Online platforms such as social media have increasingly been traffickers’ preferred method to solicit victims as well as advertising them to buyers.

Just Ask Prevention’s Efforts in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Just Ask is committed to the  United States sustaining its Tier 1 status. The Just Ask organization serves to accomplish many of the standards set by the TVPA. The organization actively provides training to law enforcement, schools, parents, and overall communities. The purpose of Just Ask training is to increase the knowledge of the community on how to identify signs of human trafficking and to increase prevention methods. Those who attend training can learn warnings signs, how to report, and how to create strong ties with children in an effort to prevent the vulnerabilities that traffickers often prey upon.  We applaud the global and domestic efforts being made to irradicate trafficking, and we pledge to work tirelessly until there is not one more victim of human trafficking.

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