DHS Strategy to Combat – Human Trafficking, The Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labour, and Child Sexual Exploitation

DHS Strategy to Combat – Human Trafficking, The Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labour, and Child Sexual Exploitation

“The U.S. Department ofHomeland Security is committed to upholding the law and preventing illicit activity from harming American interests. As part of the homeland security mission, DHS enforces trade, travel , and victim protection laws to combat criminal activity, including human trafficking, the importation ofgoods produced with forced labor, and child sexual exploitation. These heinous crimes have no place in our society, and we are leveraging the Department’s authorities to eliminate such inhumane activity.”
Chad F. Wolf, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department ofHomeland Security

Human trafficking is and will remain a top priority for the international border community and this month the US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY produced a document “STRATEGY TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING, THE IMPORTATION OF GOODS PRODUCED WITH FORCED LABOR, AND CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION”

Whilst much of this strategy document deals with internal DHS initiatives, priorities and actions, US policy inevitably has an impact on its international partners. So, your convenience we have selected those parts of the strategy document that apply most directly to the border community.


DHS’s investigative authorities derive from immigration and customs laws, including the authorities to administer U.S. border security, giving DHS investigators a comparative advantage over other investigative agencies in investigating transnational threats.

Human trafficking and child sexual exploitation are often perpetuated by transnational organized crime networks, a priority target for the DHS and the U.S. Government.

At the borders, DHS screens air, land, and maritime travelers and cargo for human trafficking and child sexual exploitation victims and for goods produced with forced labor at ports of entry, while patrolling along our border and coasts to prevent unlawful entry into the United States.

DHS also conducts extensive investigations within the United States to prevent abuse of our immigration system and eliminate illicit activity.

Priority Actions:
Develop Strategic Threat Assessments on Human Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation.

DHS will gather intelligence and conduct thorough strategic analysis on the threat from human trafficking and from child sexual exploitation. These assessments will inform policy and operational priorities. They will also include analysis of the associated financial crimes and some estimation of the prevalence of the demand from purchasers and consumers of this illicit activity. Develop Actionable Intelligence to Support Operations and Investigations.

DHS will enhance tactical and operational reporting related to transnational criminal organizations engaged in human trafficking in the various DHS land, air, and sea domains.

DHS will proactively use financial intelligence to identify human trafficking and child sexual exploitation and subsequent investigations will identify and seize assets, monies, and proceeds derived from or used in support of these illicit activities. Regional and local efforts to combat human trafficking will focus on select typologies of the crime assessed as more predominant for the area. Improve Information Sharing.

DHS, in collaboration with our law enforcement partners, will develop law enforcement data standards and recommendations for leveraging existing functions on the Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) to improve human trafficking and child exploitation investigations. This effort will also assess the need for federated searches across various overlapping investigative platforms.

DHS will also pursue localized, small group data sharing agreements relevant to the prevalence of certain types of human trafficking in an area. Additionally, DHS will work with interagency stakeholders to enable state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement targets to be nominated to the U.S. Government’s Transnational Organized Crime Watchlist. Enhance Data Management and Analysis.

DHS will create or leverage an online repository for indicators and signatures of human trafficking, including indicators of suspicious financial activity, and another for information on buyers, both made accessible to all U.S. law enforcement.

DHS will also examine the possibility of developing a platform for managing, processing, and displaying information discovered in connection to a case while maintaining appropriate protections for civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy. Invest in Technology Automating Time-Intensive Investigative Efforts.

DHS will consider investing in technology-based solutions to enhance the speed and accuracy of identifying victims and conducting investigations, such as technology to support reviewing or monitoring call records, financial records, surveillance video, jail calls, and online forums. Investing in technology used to more quickly and effectively identify victims in child sexual abuse material will remain a top priority.

Implement Advanced Training for Investigators
DHS will implement accessible, advanced training that supports a holistic approach to combating these threats. Critical advanced training includes training on cultural competencies and interpreter use, device forensics, online investigations, financial investigations, and other advanced investigative techniques. Advanced training also includes exercises wherever possible to enhance learning and will be made available digitally to law enforcement across the country as often as possible. DHS will encourage increased participation of women in advanced training. DHS will also support partners’ effective advanced training programs, such as the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative and U.S.- Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiatives. Support Human Trafficking Task Forces. DHS will increase Department-wide expertise, participation, and support for human trafficking task forces throughout the United States and ensure DHS participants in task forces nationwide have mechanisms to share promising practices. Integrate Human Trafficking Investigations into DHS Law Enforcement Functions. DHS will encourage law enforcement personnel throughout the Department to consider evidence of human trafficking, particularly labor trafficking, during their execution of routine law enforcement functions, such as worksite enforcement actions or border security investigations, and refer those cases for investigation prior to removal. Deny Admissibility to Human Traffickers and Child Sex Offenders. DHS will prioritize the removal of convicted or wanted human traffickers and child sex offenders. Attorneys who litigate removal proceedings against human traffickers will receive increased training and technical assistance. DHS will assess and implement safeguards when screening applicants for immigration benefits to deny convicted human traffickers and child sex offenders admission to the United States.

Interdict The Importation Of Goods Produced With Forced Labor
DHS is the primary federal agency responsible for enforcing civil and criminal laws to disrupt and dismantle the importation of goods produced with forced labor. DHS is streamlining trade policies and procedures and ensuring trade partners and industry understand the threat from this illicit activity.

The Department inspects imports for signs of goods produced through forced labor, investigates suspicious trade activity, issues notices to detain or seize particular goods at our ports, and pursues criminal prosecutions against individuals and companies involved in the importation of those prohibited goods.
Industry’s support and collaboration is essential to compliance. If industry views violating law and regulation as a cost of doing business, then those laws and regulations prohibiting forced labor have not achieved their goal of preventing the heinous activity from occurring.

DHS should support industry in taking proactive measures to prevent and eliminate human trafficking in their supply chains. While several countries may have regulatory restrictions on the importation of goods produced with forced labor, forced child labor, prison labor, or slave labor, no other nation has civil and criminal penalties associated with importation.

This lack of criminal designation in partner nations can undermine our ability to interdict these shipments, as shippers can recall goods seized at our ports before attempting to re-import the goods following trans-shipment.

DHS is working to strengthen international, interagency, and non-governmental coordination to interdict illicit goods in our supply chains.

Priority Actions:
Increase Investigative and Enforcement Capacity. DHS will expand its capacity to assess civil penalties and pursue criminal prosecutions against U.S. importers for violations of forced labor authorities. To strengthen overall enforcement, DHS will consider streamlining regulatory frameworks guiding the process for forced labor enforcement actions. DHS will also coordinate, consolidate, and publicize allegation and intake reporting channels and other information to ensure quality, actionable leads, gain information for ongoing cases, and verify forced labor allegations. Improve Education and Outreach to Industry Partners. DHS will educate industry on the threat of goods produced with forced labor destined for U.S. importation and improve trade alert reporting, due diligence policies, and compliance assistance tools. Encourage International Partners to Adopt Reciprocal Safeguards. DHS will raise awareness among foreign partners of U.S. trade laws, limitations, and innovations, encourage international adoption and enforcement of reciprocal safeguards that combat forced labor, and obtain agreements to support investigation and verification of forced labor allegations. DHS will also work with international partners in the process of adopting the prohibition on a two-way system for issuing trade alerts when enforcement actions go into effect.
Partner with Foreign Governments to Combat Transnational Child Sexual Abuse and Human Trafficking

DHS will work with foreign governments, particularly those with a high volume of travel to the United States, to receive notifications when their known sex offenders seek to travel to or gain an immigration benefit in the United States, leveraging existing agreements, arrangements, and processes where possible. Generally, DHS will identify primary source and transit countries of human trafficking and child exploitation and take appropriate action to incentivize countries to improve.

The report concludes: The strategy’s goals and the accompanying objectives are intended to coordinate and improve our efforts to eliminate human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Within 180 days of issuing this strategy, DHS will develop an implementation plan that includes specific deliverables, timelines, and metrics for key results. DHS will assess implementation of this strategy’s goals and objectives on a routine basis and report progress to the Secretary. With each step of implementation, this strategy will strengthen the security of the border, travel, immigration, and customs systems, as well as assist communities in becoming more resilient to these illicit activities. DHS will lead the fight against this scourge, in collaboration with our homeland security enterprise partners. Together, we will end these illicit activities and protect targeted communities from further exploitation.