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Fighting the Battle Against Human Trafficking

Thursday, October 5, 2017
By Alan R. Hanson, Acting Assistant Attorney General

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A single parent trying to finish college and make ends meet is pressured into sex trafficking while working at an adult entertainment club. A domestic worker is coerced into being on call 24 hours a day, receiving no pay, no time off, and no living space of her own.??A teenager betrayed by someone he trusted is forced into sexual exploitation under threats of harm to his family.??

These are some of the many faces of human trafficking in the United States.

They are survivors who come from diverse backgrounds and whose stories recount myriad horrors. They are U.S. citizens and immigrants, children and adults. They may already live in the U.S., or are trafficked here from other countries. Their captors use violence, coercion and fraud to control them.

They work in factories, massage parlors, hotels, households and farm fields. And though victims may not wear shackles on their hands or feet, make no mistake, human trafficking is modern-day slavery.

I'm proud to say that combatting human trafficking is a major priority of the administration and the Department of Justice. Both the President and the Attorney General are shining a spotlight on this grave issue.

For 2017, OJP is making 36 human trafficking awards through eight programs. These grants total $25.92 million. Nearly all these resources go directly to local, state and tribal nonprofits and social service providers in 39 states. We're giving them the tools they need to tackle this insidious problem.

These grants support multidisciplinary anti-trafficking task forces at the state and local levels; a comprehensive range of services for victims of trafficking; specialized programs to enhance the response to child sex trafficking; training and technical assistance for communities, law enforcement, service providers and other integral stakeholders; best-practice documents; and research and evaluation projects.

The Office of Justice Programs' anti-trafficking work is led by the Office for Victims of Crime, which manages the largest amount of federal funding to assist victims of human trafficking, as well as the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which works with OVC to jointly support human trafficking task forces composed of victim service providers, law enforcement agencies and other key partners. The National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Bureau of Justice Statistics are also involved, underwriting research to help us understand the dynamics and causes of trafficking and helping us respond to children so cruelly exploited by those who perpetrate human trafficking.

I'm proud to say these grants have made a difference by:

  • Serving more victims. Trafficking grantees served 5,582 clients from July 2015 through June 2016, a significant increase over previous years.
  • Doubling the number of active Human Trafficking Task Forces. They've grown from 14 in 11 states to 28 in 20 from 2012 to 2016.
  • Increasing the number of task force investigations of labor trafficking, from 67 to 81 from 2014 to 2016.
  • Training thousands of criminal justice professionals, service providers, community members, and judicial officers to spot and more effectively help trafficked individuals of all types.

The U.S. State Department estimates that the number of human trafficking victims worldwide is in the tens of millions. These vulnerable people suffer every day at the hands of human traffickers, whose capacity for cruelty knows few limits. The battle is huge, and OJP and the Department of Justice, working with our state and local partners, are committed to ending this brutal practice in all its forms.

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