SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, everyone. It’s an honor to host this meeting with the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons from the United States State Department.
A special thank you to Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump as well.
You’ve helped – for the entire time of this administration, you’ve helped focus the U.S. Government, including 20 agency officials that are gathered here, in our efforts to combat one of the most awful scourges of our time: human trafficking, and otherwise known as modern slavery.
To those of you who are with us who have survived this crime – thank you for your witness, and for your courage that has brought so many of us together here today.
Later in this meeting, we’ll honor extraordinary people who inspire us. This year’s recipients of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons are A21 North Carolina and the Navajo Nation.
I wish we could congratulate you all in person, as you so richly deserve.
We know your work is vital and valued. Please know that we all can see that and appreciate it. Your work raises awareness of the realities of human trafficking and helps victims rebuild lives of dignity.
You do through your work galvanize our efforts here today, as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
The fight against human trafficking has its roots in America’s founding promise: unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every man, woman, and child – especially the most vulnerable amongst us.
An estimated 25 million adults and children are suffering at the hands of human traffickers worldwide as we sit here this morning.
Our collective, sustained efforts in their defense against trafficking are testaments to America’s indispensable role as a force for good, and our commitment to human dignity.
The Trump administration continues this noble tradition.
We’re here now to discuss the way forward.
This is the Trump administration’s third meeting of the Task Force. I’ll brief you all on how the State Department is executing its part of the mission.
And after that, Deputy Secretary Biegun will preside.
First – first, the State Department is looking at how we’re keeping up our fight during COVID-19.
Human traffickers have adapted their methods in response to the virus, and we need to adapt to new forms of this old evil.
The State Department hosted a global listening session with our anti-trafficking grantees in April.
And in response, we’ve launched a year-long competition for projects to help us support anti-trafficking stakeholders in these challenging times.
Second, the Chinese Communist Party’s malign actions continue to put precious human lives in danger.
The western province of Xinjiang is the site of internment camps where more than one million Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities have arbitrarily been detained and forced into labor by the CCP.
The State Department has sanctioned senior CCP officials responsible for these abuses.
And we’ve built out international coalitions of freedom-loving nations to stand against what the CCP is doing in western China.
We’ve, too, worked with our counterparts at other agencies to warn American businesses about the human rights risks of operating in China through the Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory.
We are here to help American businesses uphold American values.
Third, through our now third investment in the Department’s Program to End Modern Slavery, the University of Georgia hosted the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum back in May.
We’re doing seven studies in six countries on the prevalence of human trafficking with a clear, statistical definition of the crime.
We’ll use that work and those studies to chart the effectiveness of different approaches so that we can better understand what actually works.
And fourth, two years ago at this meeting, I announced that the State Department would establish a Human Trafficking Expert Consultant Network.
So far, the results have been really good and encouraging. The Network has been a significant value-add on everything from strengthening multilateral resolutions to improving trauma training.
It’s informed nearly $50 million in investments to help better prosecute traffickers, assist victims, and prevent crime.
The Network has also brought survivors’ perspectives to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, which Ambassador Richmond and Senior Advisor Trump helped me release this past June.
These four initiatives are just a few of the ways the State Department is going on offense against modern slavery here at home, in China, indeed everywhere in the world.
It’s an honor to be in this fight alongside each and every one of you.
And with that, I’ll let Deputy Secretary Biegun have the floor.
Thank you all very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and good morning and welcome to everybody who joined this virtual meeting today. I am pleased to be here today to discuss the good work of the United States in combating human trafficking, and I look forward to serving as the master of ceremonies as we go through today’s discussion.
Combating trafficking in persons across the globe has a strong bipartisan support and has had so for many decades, reflecting our nation’s commitment to valuing and respecting the dignity of every human being. I’m glad to be joined by so many representatives from across our U.S. government, and by those who are streaming online.
In our various roles and in the course of carrying out our responsibilities, we have seen the harmful impact of human trafficking on communities around the world. I’m pleased to join each of you in redoubling our efforts to coordinate our many agencies to ensure we’re doing everything we can, at home and abroad, to combat this terrible crime.
Before we begin listening to a series of speakers today, I’d like to first turn to honoring the exceptional people who the Secretary mentioned, the ones that inspire us by being this year’s recipients of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Our two awardees today are A21 North Carolina and the Navajo Nation. It is a privilege to preside over this award ceremony.
A couple words about each of them. First, our first awardee – A21 North Carolina – is an organization with a clear mission: to, quote, “abolish slavery everywhere, forever.” This is a monumental task, but the broad mission doesn’t prevent A21 North Carolina from showing – from focusing on the individual, and working with survivors brings us closer to our goal of wiping out this abhorrent crime of human trafficking.
The North Carolina office of A21 sets an example on everything from collaborating with law enforcement to providing comprehensive and individualized victim support. For example, A21 connected with a woman who was a victim of sex trafficking. She had nobody to call, no resources, and nowhere to go. She found a place in A21 North Carolina’s aftercare program, the Freedom Center. After meeting with an A21 case worker, she had a plan for how to rebuild her life with dignity. And today, she’s thriving in independent housing, has a job, and is in the process of graduating from A21’s services. A21 describes this as, quote, “a journey to restoration,” end quote, and they support survivors every step of the way.
With that, I’d like to read the commendation on the award: “For its extraordinary efforts to combat human trafficking in North Carolina, including through the Freedom Center transitional model that provides essential aftercare services to survivors, and for its efforts to reduce vulnerability to human trafficking through community outreach.” Thank you very much, and congratulations to A21 North Carolina.
Our second awardee is the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation is the largest land-based tribe in the United States, with 27,000 square miles of beautiful territory in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The Navajo Nation is leading by being one of the first tribes to criminalize human trafficking on tribal lands. The Nation’s governing council’s Sexual Assault Prevention Committee partners with officials at the federal, state, and local levels to make sure that they get this right.
The Navajo Nation helps ensure justice is done by using every tool at their disposal – laws, policies, training, and data collection. They punish those responsible for these heinous acts, and they help the federal government to do the same.
With that, I’d like to read the citation for the Navajo Nation: “For its leadership in combating human trafficking on tribal lands and for bringing greater awareness of the realities of human trafficking in native communities.”
Congratulations to both of you, Navajo Nation and A21 North Carolina, and thank you for everything that you’re doing for this important cause.
It’s now my pleasure to turn the floor over to Advisor to the President Ms. Ivanka Trump to share a few thoughts with us on her work. Ivanka.
MS TRUMP: Thank you very much, Deputy Secretary Biegun, for that great introduction and for reading off this year’s Presidential Award recipients. They have done just tremendous work, and it’s wonderful to be able to herald that today, albeit not in person, unfortunately.
Again, I’d like to thank Secretary Pompeo, the chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This is the third year that the Secretary is participating, the first year that is virtual, but he has been just a formidable champion of the fight against this particular darkness and evil. And we’re all grateful for his efforts.
I’d also like to thank Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger for recognizing human trafficking as a national security priority, and for joining this call today.
As I mentioned before, the recipients of this award have really done just an extraordinary amount of work over the past year and the years prior. So again, thank you to A21 Campaign North Carolina for work in Charlotte to transition survivors back into the community, and for Navajo Nation for critical efforts to end trafficking across your tribal lands in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.
I would also like to thank the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking for ensuring that our federal policies, like the Secretary said, are survivor-informed and reflect best practices from the field. And members of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for their commitment to eradicate modern slavery.
2020 is a major milestone here in our fight against human trafficking. It marks the 20th year since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the most monumental piece of legislation to combat the scourge of trafficking, and also the adoption of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, or the Palermo Protocol. This landmark year has provided an opportunity for retrospection, and we have honored 20 years of progress at the White House Summit on Human Trafficking in January of this very year, the first summit of its kind to ever take place at the White House. It has also allowed us to renew our efforts to end trafficking in all of its evil forms and to reach for new heights in the fight for freedom.
This year, the Trump administration has once again taken unprecedented action to combat this inhumane crime, and an Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation was issued by the White House and signed this January at the summit. The White House, through this executive order, created and filled the first-ever White House employee position solely focused on combating human trafficking.
The largest DOJ grant package in U.S. history to combat human trafficking was issued, including the first-ever grant program for safe, stable housing for survivors. What we continually heard from the NGO and law enforcement community was so critical to safely reintegrating survivors back into society and keeping them safe. The President instructed law enforcement to initiate, through the DOJ, more than 1,600 new investigations into traffickers and task forces to open more than 2,500 new cases at the state and local level.
The President also created unprecedented coordination by standing up the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives to end trafficking in our tribal lands, and recently opened six task force offices across the U.S. that will put an end to these crises. And it’s so important for the closure of families to have resolution to these cases that have been outstanding for so long. I was in Minnesota just a couple of months ago for one of these office openings, and they are just doing tremendous work.
There have been partnerships formed to provide parents, teachers, and caregivers information on safeguarding children, public-private partnerships from online trafficking and exploitation during COVID-19 through NCMEC’s Safety Pledge campaign. And there’s been strengthened engagement with the survivor-composed U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and nonprofit-led Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking.
President Trump will not stop until we have rooted out modern slavery from every state, local, tribal, and territorial community. He has made this clear by working with Congress to sign into law nine pieces of bipartisan legislation to combat the evils of human trafficking. He has also prioritized funds where they matter, and earlier this year provided 70 million towards enhancing prosecutions at DOJ and 123 million towards supporting state and local efforts, both above the previous year and the most significant grant towards eradicating human trafficking in history.
In the last three years alone, the Trump Administration has doubled DOJ funding to combat human trafficking compared to the previous administration. Today we will recognize the strides made by this group over the past year to advance federal efforts to prosecute perpetrators, protect victims, and prevent further instances of trafficking. We will also reaffirm our collective mission to be the voice for the voiceless and ensure that these intolerable crimes no longer persist in the shadows.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Bella Hounakey, a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, that she shared with us at the White House summit in January, and that I was honored to have met. She said that day: “This is to the victims and survivors out there: It’s never been your fault, no matter what. So let go of that toxic shame; it doesn’t belong to you. You are never too old, too lost, or too broken to begin healing. Hope is [the] key, and even if it starts out as small as a mustard seed, nurture hope – it’ll save you. And most importantly, you are not alone. You’re not alone. You’re not alone.” To echo Bella’s sentiment, you are not alone, and this Administration is committed to helping all the survivors and prosecuting those who have perpetrated these horrible crimes at home and around the world.
So thank you to the Cabinet, thank you to our hosts at the State Department, and with that I’ll turn it over to Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger. Thank you.
MR POTTINGER: Thanks, Ivanka, and congratulations to you, to Secretary Pompeo, Deputy Secretary Biegun, and all the members of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Congratulations really to everyone who’s gathered for the work that you’ve done. You’ve got the thanks of the National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and the entire National Security Council staff for everything that you’ve accomplished so far. The leadership in particular, the interagency Senior Policy Operating Group, the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, and the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to end Human Trafficking.
So our meeting today highlights the importance of this multifaceted approach to eradicating human trafficking and forced labor, “modern day slavery” as Secretary Pompeo put it just a moment ago. And I want to echo what the President said in his remarks to the UN General Assembly and applaud your accomplishments in forging historic partnerships with foreign partners, including Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala, to stop human smuggling.
As part of the way forward, I’m pleased to present the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. As I shared with you a year ago, this plan’s objectives are to marshal all government resources available, support and empower survivors, prosecute traffickers, and leverage partnerships with private and community stakeholders to strengthen our federal efforts. The plan’s four pillars and its 65 priority actions are designed to satisfy principles that were enshrined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, also the 2000 United Nations Palermo Protocol. The National Action Plan that we’re launching today expands on those efforts to include leveraging financial authorities to identify human trafficking networks, preventing traffickers from accessing the U.S. and international financial system, deterring and preventing illegal immigration and enhancing border security, and supporting law enforcement investigations that promote accountability and justice.
So as we execute this National Action Plan, I call on all departments and agencies to monitor their efforts, keep track of the lessons learned, what works, what doesn’t work, how do we need to adjust. With President Trump’s leadership, we’ll lead the way forward and make the differences needed to stop human trafficking and forced labor, here in the United States and around the world. With that, I turn back to Deputy Secretary Biegun.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Matt, thanks so much for that announcement. The announcement of the United States’ first National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking today creates, as Matt said, a comprehensive and vivid roadmap for the way forward. I’m confident that this will help elevate our efforts across the government, Matt. This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol. It’s time to commemorate two decades of anti-trafficking work, and it’s also time to bring new energy to the fight against traffickers and their abuse and disregard for the infinite worth of every human life. I’m looking forward to this discussion later on about how each agency is contributing to these efforts.
But for now, it’s my pleasure to introduce Ambassador John Richmond, who leads the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Ambassador Richmond has spent much of his professional career working to end the scourge of human trafficking. Ambassador Richmond will provide an update on the interagency efforts of the Senior Policy Operating Group. John, over to you.
AMBASSADOR RICHMOND: Thank you, Secretary Biegun, and thank you, Secretary Pompeo. I’m grateful to join so many distinguished leaders in this global fight for freedom.
Yet despite the COVID-19 virus and the government shutdown orders around the world, traffickers have not shut down. Traffickers are capitalizing on the chaos. They’re finding ways to increase their profits by separating their victims from their freedom. But we have not shut down either, and we remain steadfast in our work to thwart traffickers’ illegal schemes.
The United States resolve to stop traffickers, protect victims, and prevent this crime is strengthened by the coordinated efforts of the federal agencies represented today. To be effective, the various departments of the federal government must work together, and the Senior Policy Operating Group has made great strides in advancing the U.S. government’s efforts to combat human trafficking. And of course, human trafficking includes both forced labor and sex trafficking, and it is distinguished from transportation-based crimes like human smuggling – that is, human trafficking always involves coercion.
I’d like to share a couple of accomplishments over the last year of the Senior Policy Operating Group and its committees. Today we launched a new, publicly available website in response to the Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States. The website connects readers to federal resources on topics ranging from public awareness and training efforts to current funding opportunities and information on survivor leadership.
Led by State and Treasury, the Senior Policy Operating Group just released a report exploring the connection between money laundering and human trafficking, specifically looking at efforts of the U.S. government and financial institutions to combat money laundering and illicit finance related to human trafficking. We worked with financial institutions, NGOs, and survivors whose input is essential to developing recommendations on new ways to strengthen our efforts in this space.
The Victim Services Committee held a series of listening sessions with civil society on housing for for trafficking survivors. These discussions focused on barriers to assessing housing, innovative solutions, and unique needs of different types of victims, such as youth and male victims. These listening sessions really helped to better inform federal efforts to enhance housing access for all survivors.
Recognizing there are risks of human trafficking on federal worksites abroad, the Procurement and Supply Chain Committee developed and released a set of awareness materials to help ensure those working on federal contracts and subcontracts understand what human trafficking is as well as the rights and resources available to them. The Senior Policy Operating Group also established a working group on demand reduction, helping to identify and evaluate demand reduction interventions within this movement.
I’d also like to recognize the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking. And to these Council members, let me say that your dedication and service on these important Councils is imperative, and we appreciate your time that you have taken from your jobs and your families to provide your advice, recommendations, and wisdom.
I wish we were meeting in person today so that we could celebrate your work together. Through the hard work of the federal agencies represented around this virtual table, we are here to help support the mission of this President’s Interagency Task Force. I look forward to our continued partnership, and I’m glad we’re in this fight together.
Thank you, Deputy.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: And thank you, Ambassador Richmond. It’s an honor to work with you on this important issue here at the Department of State.
I now want to begin to transition to some of the folks who have joined us by dialing in to the meeting, and the first person I’d like to recognize is Rachel Thomas. Rachel is the representative of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. The Council is an indispensable partner, and we’re most grateful that Ms. Thomas will be able to provide us an update on the Council’s behalf. Rachel.
MS THOMAS: Good morning. My name is Rachel Thomas, and I’m a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. It is a great honor to be here today to speak on behalf of the Council. The members of the Council are sincerely grateful to the White House and each PITF agency for its efforts to combat human trafficking in the United States and around the world. Survivor leaders bring unique and important expertise from their lived and professional experiences, and must continue to be regarded as subject matter experts in this fight against human trafficking.
PITF agencies should continue to promote survivor leadership by maintaining our integrity and by fostering meaningful and trusting relationships between survivors and government officials. PITF agencies should empower survivors by assuring our voices are included when important decisions are being made about anti-trafficking programs and policies.
As newly appointed members of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, we are grateful to previous Council members for laying the foundation of our work by elevating our voices and building partnerships with PITF agencies. As the Council begins to explore important priorities for potential focus during our term, we strive to build upon the critical work begun by previous Council members to support our survivors. While the Council has not yet decided upon our key priorities or structure, we have begun to discuss gaps and needs within the anti-trafficking movement. We see an ongoing need for targeted and evidence-based services for survivors and victims to ensure supports are effective and individualized, no matter the population they serve.
We also believe that federal anti-trafficking grantmaking efforts should focus on gaps and challenges facing survivors and victims today, with a renewed focus on monitoring and accountability.
Like in the Council’s previous term, we see limited services or supports for particularly vulnerable populations, including youth, men and boys, and indigenous populations. We also see a need for greater awareness, resources, and security in the transportation industry to combat trafficking, as well as an ongoing need for collaboration between survivors and law enforcement to assure victims are supported throughout the investigative process.
On behalf of the Council, we look forward to effectively collaborating with each of you as we narrow our priorities this term and continue the important work and purpose of this Council. We hope to continue the fight against human trafficking with you through communication, representation, and collaboration between survivors and the PITF agencies.
Thank you so much for having me here today.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Rachel. And I know I speak on behalf of everyone to say how much we value and appreciate the Council’s work.
MS THOMAS: Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Our next speaker is Mr. Bruce Deel. Mr. Deel is a representative of the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking, another strong ally of our efforts. Welcome, Mr. Deel, and I turn the floor over to you.
MR DEEL: Good morning. Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Pompeo, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, Ambassador Richmond, and all of the members of the President’s Interagency Task Force.
I am Bruce Deel, founder and CEO of City of Refuge in Atlanta, Georgia, chairperson of House of Cherith, our program serving survivors of human trafficking and exploitation. I’m also honored to be a member of the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking, which was established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017, enacted on December 21, 2018, and provided a formal platform for representatives of nonprofit groups, academia, and non-governmental organizations to advise the federal government and make recommendations on federal anti-trafficking policy and programming efforts, especially in the areas of prevention and survivor services.
The 11 members of the council were appointed by the President in late 2019 and early 2020, and we submitted a report to meet the September 30, 2020 sunset deadline in the midst of this global pandemic. It’s an honor to represent my colleagues today, and we also appreciate the leadership of co-chairs Tim Ballard and Dr. Sandra Morgan. The members of the Advisory Council have worked diligently over the past months, each with a passion to end human trafficking, while providing exceptional care for those already bruised by this blight on society. As representatives of the private sector, academics, and nonprofit leaders, we are grateful for this opportunity to partner with the government to combat human trafficking.
Our prevention recommendations call on the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to strengthen prevention education in schools, among high-risk populations, and in online sex trafficking, and recommend the establishment of a prevention working group. Prevention recommendations also ask that Departments of Justice and Homeland Security as well as the FBI enhance anti-demand training efforts. Survivor care recommendations support improved data collection across the federal landscape and request that the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services work to eliminate victim barriers to financial restoration and legal status, as well as improve identification and services for male trafficking victims. We also recommend attention be given to provision of services dedicated to long-term trauma-informed care for survivors.
This Council, should it be reauthorized by Congress, would like to address gaps in our inaugural report to focus on labor trafficking, sustainable housing, the rapid changes occurring due to the pandemic, as well as work to build stronger private sector collaboration. The council would like to express our gratitude to the President’s Interagency Task Force, the Senior Policy Operating Group, and especially the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, whose work supported a survivor-informed outcome. And finally, we thank President Donald Trump and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump for making the eradication of human trafficking a top focus of this Administration. Thank you for your time today. I hand it back over to the Deputy.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Mr. Deel, thanks very much for your words and for the great work that you’re doing. I think you know this, but the Council’s work strengthens all of our capacity in this fight.
Secretary Pompeo earlier had a chance to walk through some of the State Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, and I am certainly quite glad we’re able to do this alongside the interagency team that’s assembled on today’s call. I’d like to give everyone a chance to give a brief update on what their particular agencies or departments are doing, and with that, I’d like to start with turning to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper from the Department of Defense to kick it off. Mark.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Seems like Secretary Esper hasn’t quite joined us yet. Next in queue we have the Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. Secretary Chao, if you’re on the line, could I ask you to start us off by describing the Department of Labor’s efforts? Excuse me, Department of Transportation.
SECRETARY CHAO: That’s okay. I was Secretary of Labor as well. I had worked on these issues when I was Secretary of Labor, as well as actually when I was a United Way of America president and director of the Peace Corps. So this is an issue that I’ve worked on for many years and it resonates very deeply with me.
The Department of Transportation is doing a lot on this issue. We’re assembling a strong alliance in the transportation community to fight against human trafficking. We’re working with the individual states as they implement the new No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act to help ensure that those who use a commercial motor vehicle to commit human trafficking lose their commercial driver’s license forever.
We’re also working with the international transportation community. The Department is chairing a working group to create a model strategy for ICAO’s 193 members – member countries to help them fight human trafficking in the aviation sector as well.
On the domestic front, the department is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security on the Blue Lightning Initiative. This initiative trains aviation personnel on how to recognize and combat human trafficking. Almost 50 airports, airlines, and other aviation partners have joined this growing program, and our Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking Initiative has obtained over 500 pledges signed by transportation, labor, and non-governmental organizations. Their leaders have committed to training more than 1.3 million employees to fight human trafficking. I will reconvene these leaders in December. We had a big event with over 500 people earlier this year prior to, obviously, COVID-19 lockdown. We will work with them as well as human trafficking survivors to update training and public awareness materials, and when we gather all this information from this latest meeting, this information will be posted on our website www.transportation.gov/stophumantrafficking.
To strengthen these and other efforts and fight human trafficking involving public transportation, the Department has also awarded $5.4 million to 24 organizations across the country. And we continue to award grants to combat human trafficking through driver’s license standards and other programs. And finally, we have also created a $50,000 annual Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award, so we’re actually going to put money where our mouth is. And this year’s winner, United Against Slavery, will conduct a national outreach survey on the intersection of human trafficking and transportation so that we know how best to focus our efforts where the nexus are, where the highest incidents, vulnerabilities, and potential may occur, and for us to target on those.
So this group will make their results available to the public to help inform new policies, not only at the Department of Transportation but hopefully all across the government – federal, state, and local as well. And we also want to use these results to improve future human trafficking training and also awareness efforts.
So the Department of Transportation is on the move in the fight to combat human trafficking. Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Secretary Chao, and thank you for the work of your Department and also your own many years of leadership on this issue.
I understand that we have re-established the line with the Department of Defense. And if that’s the case, could I turn to Secretary Esper to make a few remarks about the Department of Defense’s effort. Mark?
SECRETARY ESPER: Yes, this is Secretary Esper. Can you hear me?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Loud and clear.
SECRETARY ESPER: Great. Well, hey, good morning, everyone, and thank you for hosting this discussion about combating human trafficking, an issue that remains important to the Department of Defense. The Department is working hard to address this problem through increased awareness and outreach. Our efforts are focused on the nexus between human trafficking and human rights violations, and how to report violations once they are identified. Over the past year, we have revised our training curriculum, initiated a series of public service announcements, and hosted numerous senior leader events at the Pentagon and across the DOD to address the scourge of human trafficking.
In the coming year, we will continue this work to increase awareness and outreach with a special focus on enhancing our data collection and survivor engagement. I’d like to briefly highlight a few of those efforts.
First, the DOD Education Activity and Family Advocacy Program Office are developing specialized training to prevent the trafficking of minors, which will reach the nearly one million students in DOD schools and other military-connected children around the globe. Additionally, we’re working with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to produce training modules, public service announcements, and information materials that will further strengthen protections against human trafficking in DOD contracting.
Specifically, this initiative will enhance the awareness and expertise for contracting officers and their representatives, judge advocates general, and other acquisition professionals who are responsible for the oversight of DOD contracts around the world. Meanwhile, we are deploying newly developed data collection instruments to improve the reporting and analysis of sex and labor trafficking cases across all the Department’s investigative components. This incident-based repository, containing 126 discrete variables, will improve our capability to track incidents and demographics, perpetrators, and other relevant information.
Lastly, we are looking to harness the perspectives of a diverse group of sex and labor trafficking survivors, including by inviting them to speak at our annual events and to provide their input in our education and awareness materials.
Let me wrap up by saying the Department of Defense will continue to participate on interagency committees like this one and take part in other collaborations in our fight against human trafficking. I’d like to thank all of you again for playing a vital role on this important issue. We look forward to working with you and continuing our partnership with the President’s Interagency Task Force. Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Secretary Esper. And if I could next recognize David Bernhardt, the Secretary of the Interior.
SECRETARY BERNHARDT: Good morning. First, let me commend the great Navajo Nation for being a recipient of the award. And then I will go ahead and talk about efforts of Interior to combat human trafficking.
Our law enforcement, our security agencies, the victim assistance programs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Office of Law Enforcement and Security, as well as the Park Service, all play different roles in this serious effort. We have a solemn duty and a responsibility to support law and order in our American Indian and Alaska Native communities, especially for those who are victimized, abused, and even murdered through human trafficking. Many American Indians and Alaska Natives live in rural areas and across wide terrains that are sparsely populated. Our law enforcement agencies therefore face several challenges in their effort to protect these communities.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs Office for Justice Services regularly conducts human trafficking operations in and around Indian country, correlated with their drug interdiction and enforcement operations. As described by Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump, through the program Operation Lady Justice, we have established seven now cold case offices across Indian country. These offices will help resolve more unsolved cases and bring justice and closure to American Indian and Alaska Native families and communities. We believe many of these cold cases are a result of human trafficking.
We proudly stand with our brave men and women in law enforcement who are critical to fighting human trafficking. In Fiscal Year 2020, the Indian Police Academy successfully trained over 150 Indian country law enforcement officers in human trafficking, identification, and enforcement. In addition, through our victim assistance program, our bureaus have provided trainings on human trafficking across Indian country, and in several states where we have a significant presence.
Our law enforcement officers and our families of those lost, missing, and murdered deserve justice. Human trafficking is strongly correlated with the rise in drug trafficking and missing and murdered cases in Indian country. As a result, since 2018, we have led Opioid Reduction Task Force efforts to protect the families of Indian country. We continue to train, educate, and strengthen our forces in the fight against human trafficking.
By the end of Fiscal Year ’21, all National Park Service leadership will link with human trafficking task forces, fugitive centers, and local service centers. We promise never to cut corners, never to back down, and never to give up in our efforts to protect the families in our American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Thank you for listening, and God bless America.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Secretary Bernhardt. I very much appreciate your comments. And we’d next like to recognize Secretary Wilbur Ross from the Department of Commerce.
SECRETARY ROSS: Thank you for that introduction and thank you also to Ivanka for your leadership combating the horrors of human trafficking and forced labor. My thanks to the Advisory Council and all of our federal agencies for their hard work and contributions to ending modern slavery. I also join in congratulations to North Carolina A21 and the Navajo Nation on their award. Our Department stands with all of you in full support of this important effort, and we are deploying our authorities and resources to rid our global supply chains of these anathemas.
Notably, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has imposed export controls on entities abusing human rights or whose surveillance technologies enable such activities. Since October 2019, BIS has added 48 Chinese names to the entity list because of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor, and high-tech surveillance of Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Furthermore, we joined the Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security in issuing a Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory on July 1, alerting the public to the reputational, economic, and legal risks to involvement with entities that abuse human rights, including forced labor in manufacturing.
Also in July, BIS published a notice of inquiry in the Federal Register seeking public comment about the possible expansion of controls over items used by police, intelligence, and security services in human rights abuse, including surveillance. We are now evaluating the 20 comments that we received for export control action.
Also in October, BIS published two new rules allowing us to review and deny license applications based on human rights concerns, and adding a new control on water cannons used for riot or crowd control. These actions are partly in response to actions against protesters in Hong Kong.
Turning now to my Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Marine Fisheries Service is working with federal and international partners to end forced and enslaved labor in the seafood industry that is linked to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing – IUUF. To that end, NOAA will soon propose to update certain provisions of the IUUF Enforcement Act of 2015 and the Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act, a proposed rule that redefines IUUF in the regulations and implements the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act. Once applied, the new rule will provide the Administration with additional tools to combat IUUF and reduce these illegal activities. NOAA is also working with the seafood industry to develop due diligence standards and market-based solutions eliminating economic incentives to forced labor in the fishing industry.
The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration is also critically engaged in the fight against human exploitation. ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service officers work steadfastly with the State Department around the world to convey critical information about entities engaged in human trafficking and human rights abuses to American business. Protecting freedom and human rights is intrinsic to who we are as a nation. As such, we will consistently identify additional actions for the Commerce Department in support of the principles that the task force holds paramount.
Thank you. Have a good day.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Secretary Ross. And I’d next like to turn to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Alex.
SECRETARY AZAR: Thank you, Secretary Biegun. We all know that combating human trafficking is an incredibly important priority for the Trump Administration, and I appreciate the hard work that each of you does to support these efforts. I especially want to recognize the work of Secretary Pompeo and Ivanka Trump for their tireless work to combat this threat in the United States and throughout the world.
As all of you know, 20 years ago the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was signed into law. We celebrate that anniversary today and recognize how it has guided our efforts as we seek to prevent the scourge of human trafficking. I want to briefly highlight three ways in which HHS has been actively engaged in fulfilling that law’s objective, seeking to stop human trafficking and offering hope and the chance of independence for survivors.
We’ve been modernizing our efforts, placing survivors at the center, and bolstering prevention partnerships.
First, modernizing our anti-trafficking programs has decreased burden for the public, generated efficiencies, and expanded our reach. For instance, easier expanded access to our accredited Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond training program on human trafficking has now reached more than two million health and human service providers.
We’ve also expanded options to seek help through the National Human Trafficking Hotline with call, text, and online chat options. Over the past four fiscal years, the hotline identified more than 38,000 potential trafficking cases, received more than 26,000 communications directly from survivors, and made more than 44,000 referrals to local services.
Case management has also played an integral role. The new HHS Shepherd online case management system cut requests for assistance submission times by 75 percent and reduced case processing times by up to 10 hours per case. We were proud that this new system received the 2020 Digital Experience Award from the Government Information Technology Executive Council.
Second, we’ve put survivors at the center of our work. As just one example, in support of Operation Lady Justice, HHS has invested in new programming to support American Indian and Alaska Native survivors of human trafficking. We’ve invested in leadership development of indigenous survivors of trafficking and allied service providers, launched a victim assistance program working with six tribes and organizations, and are currently developing a culturally specific public awareness campaign. I’d also like to extend my deepest congratulations to the Navajo Nation on its leadership in the fight against human trafficking and its recognition today.
Finally, as we move into the future, we will invest in partnerships to reduce the risk for trafficking and strengthen the ability of individuals, families, and communities to prevent human trafficking. I’ll mention a couple of ways we’re doing this.
First, earlier this month, HHS launched a new national prevention education grant program, partnering with eight local school districts to train school staff, provide age-appropriate, skills-based education for students, and establish school safety protocols on human trafficking.
Second, we will also implement new support for federally qualified health centers to respond to human trafficking and intimate partner violence. This initiative will expand health centers’ use of electronic health records to support interventions, increase collection of relevant data, and strengthen the use of health IT to connect health center patients to services – improvements that can improve our ability to combat human trafficking at more than 13,000 health care delivery sites across America, often located in our most vulnerable communities.
These are truly significant accomplishments, and they are a credit to not just our team at HHS but all of our partners and everyone involved in our government-wide efforts. I look forward to hearing the updates and recommendations from other members of the Task Force and other stakeholders here today as we continue to work together to put an end to the horrific crime of human trafficking. Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: And thank you, Secretary Azar. I’d next like to turn to our United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. Ambassador.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Well, thank you, Secretary Biegun, and good morning to everyone. I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to President Trump’s leadership in combating modern slavery around the world. Whether it’s through this Interagency Task Force or the newly formed USMCA’s Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force, the office of USTR is eager to work alongside our interagency partners in this whole-of-government effort to end forced labor and human trafficking.
At USTR we remain steadfast in using all trade tools at our disposal to ensure that trading partners will work with us to end the use of forced labor, especially in the production of goods being imported into the United States and the markets of our trading partners. In fact, our trade agreements implement U.S. government priorities to end the use of forced labor in adults and children. Our trade preference programs continue to be powerful tools in strengthening labor standards around the world, including those against the use of forced labor. The generalized system of preferences and the African Growth and Opportunity Act require countries receiving these preferential benefits to meet all the eligibility criteria, including with respect to forced labor.
Through our enforcement and review process, we ensure that countries benefitting from these programs are meeting these obligations. Our efforts have resulted in strengthened protection for workers, especially in this important forced labor area. The President recently suspended GSP preferences for Thailand, including with respect to all seafood products, based on its failure to adequately protect internationally recognized worker rights, including the protection from forced labor. The President also terminated Mauritania’s AGOA trade preference benefit due to forced labor practices and particularly hereditary slavery. USTR and interagency partners continue to press this government to meet benchmarks in ending forced labor as a condition of reinstatement of these benefits.
Our trade agreements include provisions that require parties to adopt, maintain, and enforce legal provisions on the elimination of all forced or compulsory labor. Under this Administration, we pushed for even stronger labor provisions in the USMCA, which entered into effect in July of this year and resulted in groundbreaking provisions requiring all three countries to prohibit the importation of all goods produced wholly or in part from forced labor. And we have made progress but we recognize there’s much work that needs to be done. USTR stands with the President and our partners throughout the U.S. government, private sector, and civil society to make certain that the scourge of slavery and forced labor have no place in this world. Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: And thank you, Ambassador Lighthizer. I’d next like to turn to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. Chad.
MR WOLF: Well, thank you, Deputy Secretary Biegun. It’s an honor to provide an update on just the incredible progress the Department of Homeland Security has made toward eradicating human trafficking. Let me also thank the colleagues from across the federal government for their partnership in tackling this critical issue.
At last year’s Task Force meeting, the department committed to combating human trafficking along four lines of effort: prevention, protection, prosecutions, and partnership. Since then we have published our first ever strategy back in January of this year to combat human trafficking, the importation of goods produced with forced labor, and child sexual exploitation. As part of our ongoing enforcement efforts, ICE Homeland Security investigations or how we talk about them, ICE HSI, has held over 1,300 events on human trafficking in the past year, has provided training to more than 80,000 law enforcement officers and victim advocates.
Our science and technology component has developed three new digital forensic tools to investigate child sexual exploitation and began piloting these tools with over 25 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel. Additionally, by working with our Department of Transportation colleagues, as Secretary Chao mentioned earlier, through the Blue Lightning Initiative, we’ve developed 22 new partnerships with airlines and other transportation organizations that help us identify and combat human trafficking. And so while I’m proud of all of these accomplishments the department has made over the past year, we recognize our job is not done until we completely eradicate human trafficking and bring to justice all of those who profit off of these crimes.
That’s why I’m proud to announce that tomorrow we will officially open the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, a new initiative which will draw from the resources across the Department to bring swift justice to perpetrators of human trafficking. This dedicated center is the culmination of Department-wide efforts, with 16 of our components and headquarters office coming together as one team under one roof. It will unite DHS’s existing counter-human-trafficking initiatives including investigations, operations, victim assistance, intelligence, outreach, and training, again, into one central location so that we can holistically counter this threat. The Center’s aim is very clear: end all forms of human trafficking, including sex trafficking and forced labor. We’ll be kicking off and we have a celebration tomorrow on the dedication of the Center. We’re confident that by uniting our existing efforts into one existing location, we’ll see increased enforcement actions against perpetrators and improved identification, protection, and assistance for victims of this crime.
Let me just close by saying DHS continues to be very grateful to the work of this group, the task force, Secretary Pompeo, Ivanka, and many others in the interagency as we continue the Administration’s efforts to stop human trafficking in all its forms once and for all. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you this morning. Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: And thank you, Secretary Wolf. Appreciate those comments. I’d next like to recognize the Deputy Secretary of Treasury Justin Muzinich. Justin.
MR MUZINICH: Thank you, Secretary Biegun. The Treasury Department has been very focused on this issue. Treasury’s 2020 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism and Other Illicit Financing identified money laundering linked to human trafficking as a significant threat. In fact, human trafficking is estimated to be one of the most profitable crimes in the world.
To combat this threat, Treasury uses our full range of capabilities to increase knowledge of the threat, develop capable partners, and target actors engaged in human trafficking. As part of these efforts, Treasury will host a public-private event, the Partnership to Combat Human Rights Abuse and Corruption, later this year. During that event, Treasury will convene experts to participate in panel discussions related to human rights and corruption issues, including using technology to support victims of human trafficking, identifying new financial typologies of human trafficking, and addressing the use of forced labor in global supply chains.
In addition to our work in bringing government and private sector experts together to tackle this problem, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control continues to use a range of authorities that target human trafficking. As part of these actions, OFAC has designated individuals and entities involved in human trafficking in Laos, Japan, and Syria.
In addition, last week Treasury published a new advisory on identifying and reporting human trafficking activity which provides red flags to assist those on the front lines of banking to identify techniques employed by traffickers, including the use of front companies and funnel accounts. Collectively, these and other Treasury offices will continue to strongly support the government-wide effort to confront human trafficking. Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Secretary Muzinich, and I’d next like to recognize the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mr. Stephen Censky. Steve. Secretary Censky, are you there?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Seems like he may have lost the line, so why don’t we go to our next speaker, the Deputy Director of OMB, Derek Kan. Derek.
MR KAN: Hey, Steve. Thanks a lot for hosting, and thank you, Secretary Pompeo and Ivanka, for your leadership on this very important issue.
At OMB we’re continuing to use both the budget and management levers and tools we have to eliminate human trafficking and to ensure taxpayer funds are not being used to support trafficking in persons in any way, shape, or form. So last year, the President’s budget included just over $350 million for federal anti-trafficking efforts. To put this in context, this is 42 million more than the congressional appropriation in FY ’20, and it was one of the biggest budget increases we’ve ever seen for this important issue.
The majority of this request is derived from a $38 million increase to DOJ grant programs that support services for victims of trafficking, efforts to research trafficking, and to fund a multidisciplinary task force or multiple task forces to investigate and prosecute traffickers. The remaining increase expands the federal prosecutorial and investigatory capacity of DOJ components. OMB is currently in the process of reviewing agency requests, as many of you know, and as part of the development of the FY ’22 President’s budget, we will continue to prioritize programs that combat human trafficking both at home and abroad.
On the other side of the house, on the management side, we’ve taken important steps to eliminate trafficking in federal contractor supply chains. Last year, OMB published best practices and mitigation steps reflecting successful practices identified by NGOs and other private sector thought leaders, and partnered with the State Department to provide targeted training for the work force. It was frankly a great example of public-private partnership used to combat human trafficking.
More recently, we’ve worked with agencies to identify accountable officials who are analyzing agency spends for areas of high risk of trafficking so agencies are positioned to take preventative actions before problems occur. This includes coordinations with enforcement – with members of the enforcement community – such as Customs and Border Patrol, which recently issued an order to prevent the importation of rubber gloves from Malaysia or material from Xinjiang, China due to evidence of trafficking in the supply chain. So thanks, Secretary Wolf, for your assistance, great contributions here.
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy has provided assistance and training to international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and multilateral development banks who are looking to implement similar protective measures in their procurement processes. OMB looks forward to our continued partnership with the PITF and working together with our contractors to combat human trafficking. Thank you all for your partnership and God bless America.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thanks, Derek. Appreciate your remarks. Let me give the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture another chance. Stephen Censky, have you been able to join us?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Okay. Well, then, we’re going to go to our next speaker, the Acting Administrator for USAID John Barsa. John, the floor is yours.
MR BARSA: Deputy Secretary Biegun, thank you so very much. Hello, everyone. It’s a pleasure to join you all today to mark 20 years of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. At USAID we’re extremely grateful for the leadership of Secretary Pompeo and Advisor Trump, leading us on these issues.
USAID proudly contributes to the U.S. government’s global anti-trafficking efforts, having provided over $300 million in assistance to 81 countries since 2001. Trafficking survivors and the interagency are key partners in the fight against human trafficking, from organized crime in places like Libya and Nigeria to alleged state-sponsored trafficking in Cuba. That’s why we are revising our policy on Countering Trafficking in Persons, or CTIP, to further bring our key partners into our work. With the revised policy coming in January of 2021, USAID will bring trafficking survivors and State Department colleagues into our technical and selection committees, providing survivors with the opportunity to inform policies and programs that directly affect them. And we are encouraging implementing partners and partner governments to do the same.
In addition, USAID missions in countries ranked under the Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3 are now prioritizing staff and resources to integrate CTIP programs into their strategies. For example, after three years on the Tier 2 Watch List, Liberia improved its ranking to Tier 2, in part because of the government’s efforts to more than double investigations and prosecutions. To support the government’s efforts, USAID and the State Department jointly identified ways to address CTIP recommendations across the existing country portfolio.
USAID is also strengthening our investments in research and evaluation to develop tailored interventions and innovations. Currently, we are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to assess the countries of origin and risk factors for children trafficked into the U.S., which will equip USAID missions with the information to prevent child trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and protect vulnerable children.
On July 30, USAID hosted our largest event for World Day Against Trafficking. With representation from private, public, and faith-based organizations, we hosted a panel to discuss the significant increase in online sexual exploitation of children, decline in prosecutions, and loss of jobs. The stories from survivors that day demonstrated their remarkable resilience, driving them to eventually lead their own businesses and a nonprofit to assist other victims. USAID helped these survivors by providing safe housing, psychosocial support, and livelihood training. We are proud to see that they have become agents of change and role models for other survivors.
We are also adapting our response in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippines, lockdowns have increased online sexual exploitation of children with eight out of every 10 children at risk of online abuse. USAID is working with the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, civil society organizations, and the private sector to monitor online trafficking activity, send out local warning messages, and seek support from Facebook and media platforms to amplify our work.
We are proud of our progress to date and we look forward to ending trafficking once and for all in the years to come. Thank you again, Deputy Secretary Biegun.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, John, and great work at USAID.
I’d next like to turn to Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain. Kate.
SOLICITOR O’SCANNLAIN: Good morning. It’s good to be with all of you today marking the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. I’m honored to represent Secretary Scalia and the Department of Labor in such distinguished company.
Here at the department, we’re committed to working across the administration and with businesses and NGO community to end human trafficking, both in the United States and across the globe. Our wage and hour and occupational safety and health investigators are often the first government authorities to witness abusive labor practices in the workplace. Whether it’s farms, hotels, factories, restaurants, or other places where trafficking is identified, we will focus our efforts on referring these cases for prosecution so that traffickers are brought to justice.
In addition to increasing our efforts on referrals in 2021, we’ll continue to work diligently to ensure that victims receive back wages they are entitled to under law. Department of Labor is committed to working with your agencies, including the Department of Justice’s Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams. The Department is also diligently working to combat human trafficking globally. For example, the new USMCA agreement contains a groundbreaking provision that prohibits the importation of goods produced in whole or in part by forced or compulsory labor. Our new labor attaches will work with the Mexican Government, workers, and civil society groups to help ensure supply chains are free from forced labor.
And as you’re all aware, forced labor and human trafficking plays a significant role in supply chains around the world. To highlight this problem, last month we released our list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor, which added 25 goods, including six goods produced by forced labor in China, one of the most advanced and largest economies around the world. With the exception of fish, five of the six goods, including gloves, hair products, textiles, red yarn, and tomato products, are made by at least 100,000 Uyghur and other ethnic religions, mostly Muslim minorities, in forced labors all throughout China.
With this update, China is now the top of the list for forced labor abuses. We will work more closely with our interagency partners and stakeholders in the coming years on forced labor in China and other countries critical to the U.S. supply chains.
To assist businesses in identifying risks and remediating abuses in their supply chains, we’re promoting our newly updated Comply Chain smartphone app. While this app is currently available in Spanish and French, we will release it for the first time in Malay in November.
The Department of Labor looks forward to continuing to work with our interagency partners and other key stakeholders in the United States and abroad to combat and end human trafficking. Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Kate. And I understand Secretary of Agriculture – Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky has joined us. Stephen.
MR CENSKY: Secretary Biegun, can you hear me this time?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: I can hear you with a little bit of background noise. I’d ask anybody who’s not on mute to go ahead and put on mute. Okay, go ahead. Go ahead, Secretary.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CENSKY: Well, thank you very much, Secretary Biegun. And USDA remains committed (inaudible) persons. The majority of our involvement is in efforts that relates to the building awareness in agriculture communities that are potential targets. Providing training and awareness opportunities to field-level staff empowers them to recognize the signs and the effects of human trafficking. They educate victims on their rights and, of course, to report their observations to the appropriate agencies.
USDA facilitates a strong connection between the agencies that combat human trafficking in the broader food and ag sector through our role as co-sector-specific agency and the co-chair of the Government Coordinating Council. USDA will continue to provide opportunities for our field employees to be trained over the next year, enabling our employees across the world to recognize the signs of labor trafficking and further spread awareness and education through our network of real customers. Additionally, USDA will discuss mechanisms for better engagement and outreach to the broader food and agriculture sector, and this will allow for greater industry awareness of the indicators and warnings of potential human trafficking activities.
By continuing to strengthen the information-sharing network through our USDA employees, our interagency partners, public-private partnership, and the Intelligence Community, we can reduce the threat of illicit trafficking to protect the United States, our customers, and migrant workers at risk.
Thank you very much, Secretary Biegun.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Secretary Censky. And our next speaker is the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray.
MR WRAY: Thanks, Deputy Secretary Biegun. Pleased to join all of you in discussing our combined efforts in this incredibly important fight, and grateful for the leadership of everyone involved on this Task Force on this important Administration priority.
Obviously, at the FBI we investigate just about every kind of crime out there, and it’s hard to identify one that is more heinous than human trafficking. At present, the FBI is investigating about 1,400 human trafficking cases. Nearly half of those cases were opened in the past fiscal year alone. And currently all of our 56 field offices around the country have ongoing human trafficking investigations. Most of those cases, most of our cases, about 90 percent or so are commercial sex trafficking cases involving both children and adults. We do also have human trafficking cases in which the victims were forced into labor or domestic servitude. But in both categories we take a very victim-centered approach, which we think is critical, and prioritizing the victims’ needs first. We have a victim services division in particular that has specialized training in human trafficking victims’ services. We also have child and adolescent forensic interviewers who specialize in interviewing child victims of human trafficking, as well as helping them find emotional support, social services, medical care, et cetera.
Obviously, as this task force itself at the leadership level underscores, we can’t – no agency can do any of this work alone, and the FBI works very closely with our law enforcement and interagency partners out on the ground to investigate these crimes and bring traffickers to justice. We lead 85 child exploitation and human trafficking task forces around the country, which bring together about 1,000 task force officers on top of our own agents and personnel, representing more than 500 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
There have been over 600 instances just since March of this year in which those task forces, our task forces have identified and/or recovered kids who were being trafficked for commercial sex. So that’s close to a hundred instances a month of kids being identified and/or recovered.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID, our task forces have not rested in their efforts to rescue those victims and track down those seeking to exploit them. As we look towards the future, we’re committed to leveraging our decades of investigative experience, coupled with our strong partnerships to combat human trafficking from every angle, to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to find better ways to combat the scourge of human trafficking.
We also need to challenge – tackle the challenges of lawful access by working with social media companies, academia, and legislators to address the use of encrypted communications and devices by criminals, especially those who traffic in child victims. And we’ll, of course, work closely with DOJ and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country as we investigate and prosecute traffickers.
So you can be confident that the FBI remains committed to this important effort and to working with all of you. Thanks.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Director Wray, and thanks for the great work of the Bureau. I’d next like to recognize Ambassador Kelly Craft, the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Ambassador Craft.
AMBASSADOR CRAFT: Thank you, Secretary Biegun, and thanks, Secretary Pompeo, for organizing this critical discussion today spotlighting the Administration’s focus on human trafficking. And I have to really give a shoutout to Ambassador Richmond, because his leadership in this space is really taking this to a whole new level. So thank you, Ambassador.
The Trump Administration has taken decisive action to combat this evil crime, including the dedication of nearly half a billion dollars to the global fight against human trafficking. Ivanka has been so helpful in leading this effort, and I am really proud to support her in bringing new levels of attention and resources to combat the problem – resources not just for catching and punishing criminals, but also focused on the needs of survivors. I’d like to thank her and her team for reminding us all that trafficking is a human tragedy with survivors who not only deserve our empathy and support but also serve as some of the most impactful leaders and advocates in preventing trafficking.
During my travels over the last year, I’ve seen both the effects of human trafficking and the importance of our American taxpayer dollars and public-private partnerships in funding these efforts to stop it. When I’ve been in Colombia, I was able to bring together Andrew Forrest, the founder of the Minderoo Foundation, with the Government of Colombia to work eradicating modern slavery. So this is a great example of how we can resource our public-private partnerships together.
I saw it firsthand in Turkey and South Sudan, where United Nation agencies like the World Food Program, UNICEF, and UNHCR are hard at work with the local NGOs to protect and support vulnerable people while building state capacity to address human trafficking. These organizations, working on the ground across the world every day, can also help us to detect, to recognize, and disrupt traffickers.
Our local law enforcement agencies also play a central role in addressing the problem, and I really want to emphasize this today because I think a lot of times they get lost as frontline workers in acknowledging the importance and the role that they play and the importance of continuing to fund their efforts. And more than any other profession, the police officers are likely to encounter victims and traffickers in their everyday work, through neighborhood patrols, traffic stops, and responding to emergency calls, putting them in a very unique position to identify and intervene, to rescue the victims, and arrest the perpetrators.
How these officers and deputies manage that initial encounter is critical in determining whether victims get the help they need and traffickers face justice. Next month marks 20 years since the United States joined 116 other signatory states in creating the UN’s Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Today nearly all member states have acceded, though implementation remains inconsistent.
The protocol was designed to promote three shared goals: strengthen trafficking prevention efforts with particular attention to women and children; protect and assist trafficking victims; and improve cooperation among nations, and particularly countries of origin, transit, and destination.
Over the last two decades we’ve seen strides in all three categories, and earlier this month the USUN hosted a discussion along with the State Department’s Office to [Monitor and ] Combat Trafficking in Persons to review the progress we have made. Our participants in that discussion emphasized not only the accomplishments but also the importance of integrating survivors and prevention efforts, strengthening accountability for governments and businesses, and coordinating efforts amid the challenges of COVID-19. We all know that COVID-19 has exasperated trafficking dangers. Loss of jobs, growing poverty, school closures, and a rise in online interactions are increasing vulnerabilities and creating opportunities for organized crime groups.
This was said to me personally with my visit in South Sudan with women who had lost their husbands in combat in South Sudan and the struggle that they were having with their young children in being targeted of human trafficking. The women and girls already account for 70 percent of the detected human trafficking victims, and today they are the hardest hit by this pandemic. With previous downturns showing that women face a harder time getting jobs during and after the crisis, vigilance is especially important now more than ever.
While there has been much accomplished in this fight against human trafficking, I need to be very honest. I believe that it is vital that we use this anniversary to expand our public-private partnerships in this area and to push for the full, effective, and universal implementation of the UN Protocol. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations will be leading this effort, and I’m looking forward to partnering with many of you, learning from you, helping people to unlearn bad behavior, and to be able to mitigate this crisis, especially during this time. And once again, I appreciate the efforts, and the USUN is here and we are very excited to partner with each of you. And once again, thank you for inviting us to be part of this very important President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitoring and Combating Human Trafficking.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Ambassador Craft. I’d next like to turn to the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan. Frank.
MR BROGAN: Thank you, Deputy Secretary and ladies and gentlemen. As so many have done before me, I wanted to thank, first of all, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, Ivanka Trump, Ambassador Richmond, and all the other members of the Task Force and their leadership for the great work that is being done on this issue every single day. I am, of course, substituting today for Secretary DeVos, who is traveling. She asked me to bring you greetings and her eternal thanks for the work that you do.
I would like to make just several comments. In keeping with our agency’s commitment to the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, the Department of Education has focused its efforts diligently on protecting our most vulnerable students and informing the field on how to reintegrate trafficking survivors into the school systems. Our efforts have centered on victim identification and protection, with a keen attentiveness to the needs of our most vulnerable student populations. The Department of Education’s intra-agency work group on human trafficking and child labor exploitation has met with the Presidentially-appointed, and might I say wonderful and courageous, members of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
We’ve since worked to address each of the issue areas recommended by the committee and invited members of the council to consult on the development of resources and present in our nationally facing webinar series. In an effort to achieve our stated goal of increasing awareness of human trafficking, the department has released three of four webinars that we’ll publish this year, two of which prioritized online safety. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uptick in trafficking activity that came along with a widespread switch to virtual schooling, the agency presented two webinars – one in May, the other in July – with critical safety information for state, local, and school-level stakeholders as well as parents and students.
The Department has continued in its collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice in the development of grants and programs that better prepare schools and communities to combat human trafficking.
This December the department will be rolling out a web page dedicated to exclusively the issue of human trafficking resources and will include our newly revised Human Trafficking in America’s Schools Toolkit. It features victim-centered, trauma-informed and culturally competent research and resources, in addition to useful indicators for identifying human trafficking and protective responses particularly for the most vulnerable student populations.
We continue to urge all schools, districts, and states to take up this issue with seriousness again and to address this national and international tragedy with great urgency. I am grateful for the President’s leadership on this and so many other important issues of homelessness, opioid addiction, of suicide, especially among our veterans, and I’m grateful for the leadership on all of these things as well as for the council’s focus and spotlight on this issue. I thank all of you again on behalf of all of the Department of Education and Secretary DeVos. Especially today, we thank everyone for their continued leadership on this most important issue. Thank you very much, Deputy Secretary and members.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Frank. I’d next like to turn to Eric Dreiband, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. Eric.
MR DREIBAND: Good morning, and thank you, Deputy Secretary Biegun. The fight against human trafficking is one of the highest priorities of Attorney General William Barr and the entire Department of Justice. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which I lead, its criminal division, and our more than 90 United States attorney offices partners prosecute forced labor and sex trafficking of children and of adults in the federal courts of the United States. We also collaborate with and support state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in the fight against human trafficking. Our record-setting funding for human trafficking victim assistance provides critical help to survivors who seek to recover and rebuild their lives.
As we celebrate 20 years of achievement in implementing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the Justice Department has looked inward and plans to launch a whole-of-department strategy to combat human trafficking. The strategy will enhance the Department’s prevention, detection, victim protection, investigation, and prosecution efforts. The Office of Justice Program recently established a new human trafficking division within its Office for Victims of Crime to integrate its law enforcement, juvenile justice, and victim services programs. The Office of Justice Program provides the federal government’s largest source of anti-trafficking grant funding to law enforcement agencies, task forces, and victim service providers nationwide and will continue building on the human trafficking division’s multidisciplinary approach to enhance delivery of training and technical assistance on victim-centered, trauma-informed strategies for law enforcement and victim services grantees, in connection with OJP’s extensive grant-making and prevention programs.
Within the Civil Rights Division, a specialized human trafficking prosecution unit serves as the department’s subject matter experts in prosecuting forced labor, sex trafficking adults, and transnational trafficking of foreign victims into the United States. The Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section serves as the Department’s experts in combating the sexual exploitation of children, including the sex trafficking of children.
We are also seeking justice on behalf of individual victims. In one such case, United States v. Toure, the defendants brought a young child from her rural village in Guinea, West Africa and compelled her into domestic servitude in their upscale Texas home, and for 16 years the defendants used beatings, threats, verbal abuse, isolation, and punishment to hold her in their service without pay. Bringing those labor traffickers to justice required an extensive investigation into a 16-year crime that spanned two continents.
Our human trafficking prosecutions also seek to dismantle transnational trafficking organizations. In one such case, United States v. Morris and Intarathong, the Department of Justice convicted 36 defendants after they operated a massive international sex trafficking organization that was responsible for coercing hundreds of Thai women to engage in commercial sex acts across the United States. The victims were impoverished and spoke little or no English, and traffickers forced them into prostitution in the United States and threatened to harm them and their families if they did not comply with the traffickers’ demands.
Traffickers also engaged in widespread visa fraud to facilitate the international transportation of the victims. Traffickers gathered personal information from the victims, including the location of the victims’ families in Thailand, and the traffickers later used this information to threaten victims who sought to flee the organization in the United States. Fortunately, investigators and prosecutors recovered several million dollars in money judgments secured through plea agreements, and the perpetrators are serving long prison sentences.
The challenges we face are substantial, and I am confident that together with the partnership of each agency gathered here, under the President’s leadership, we can overcome them. I appreciate your dedication, I am proud to work with you, and I pledge that I will do everything I can do help you continue bringing human traffickers to justice. Thank you, Deputy Secretary Biegun. Thank you, everyone else.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Eric. And I’d like to turn to our last speaker for this part of the program, Mr. Keith Sonderling, who’s the Vice Chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Keith.
MR SONDERLING: Thank you, Deputy Secretary. Combating human trafficking is a priority for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Accordingly, the EEOC has taken a multi-pronged approach to enhance awareness and prevention of human trafficking. In Fiscal Year 2020, Chair Dhillon created an internal Vulnerable Workers Task Force. The task force is charged with reviewing EEOC’s programs and services dedicated to reaching vulnerable workers in our society, including victims of human trafficking. The task force mission is to ensure that the EEOC is effectively identifying, reaching, and serving, through outreach enforcement and litigation, the most vulnerable. For outreach and training, the EEOC works to increase public awareness about human trafficking and protections afforded by Equal Employment Opportunity laws.
During the last several months, we have continued our outreach efforts through virtual events and will continue to leverage technology to increase awareness. In Fiscal Year 2020, the EEOC participated in 113 outreach events that included raising awareness about human trafficking, reaching more than 11,000 attendees. Recently, we developed human trafficking training for one of our most vulnerable populations in this area, our youth. This training is being integrated into our Youth@Work program, a national outreach program, in order to educate young workers on how to recognize signs of human trafficking, how to avoid it, and how to stay safe in the workplace.
We also continue to provide cognitive interview training for our investigators, to some of our state partners, and our Tribal Employment Rights offices. This training prepares investigators to work with victims of human trafficking because it focuses on why and how trauma impacts the brain and how to conduct an interview in cases involving trauma.
Through our investigations and litigation, the EEOC plays a unique and significant role in the enforcement of civil rights laws in the workplace. We utilize the laws that we enforce to recover civil damages for the benefit of victims of human trafficking. The EEOC is proud to work with all of our partners here today in the fight to end human trafficking. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Keith. And I’d now like to turn to Brooke Rollins. Brooke is the Acting Director of the Domestic Policy Council and she’s going to share some thoughts on where we are and next steps. Brooke.
MS ROLLINS: Great. Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone. What a joy and a blessing to be on with all of you and to hear so many – so much great work that’s going on. I had the incredible, incredible opportunity of serving this President as his Domestic Policy Chief and running the Domestic Policy Council. And I’ve been so impressed as I listen to all of the good work that is being done by all of our Task Force member agencies as we continue to combat human trafficking. I also want to especially thank my great friend and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. She has just been steadfast. Her leadership has been truly extraordinary, and her commitment to this issue is an inspiration to all of us in the administration, as well as I know so many of you listening today.
This has been a particularly significant meeting as we roll out the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. It has been a tremendous undertaking accomplished through the leadership of the National Security Council, (my friend Deputy Assistant Matt Pottinger, and collaborative efforts of the members of this Task Force, non-governmental stakeholders, and experts on the issue. This plan will have lasting and real impact on the fight to end human trafficking. Some of the most important work that the DPC does is to help steer the President’s work to support and lift up vulnerable communities or communities that might sometimes feel invisible or forgotten. Victims of human trafficking often suffer in the shadows, and once they escape from their trafficking situations can truly struggle to make a full recovery because of the lack of resources and support from our society that too often prefers to look the other way.
But as you all know, eradicating human trafficking and supporting victims has been a top priority for this President since he first took office. Within the first month of his presidency, he instructed federal agencies to do whatever necessary to bring human traffickers to justice and to assist and empower survivors along the path to restoration. And since then, this President has overseen a whole-of-government approach as he does with most every issue, coupled with key partnerships with the private sector. These efforts are bringing about real results which all of you have outlined today on this call. What a joy to hear all of the amazing work that you have done.
He has signed nine pieces of bipartisan legislation to combat human trafficking domestically and around the globe, which is a record for any president. He has directed decisive action along the southern border to stop traffickers from exploiting the failed policies of previous administrations which allowed for the victimization and terrorization of innocent people by trapping them in the world of human trafficking.
Under the President’s leadership, federal government funding for fighting trafficking has more than doubled to support faith-based and community organizations providing essential services, and that work will continue. He’s launched an effort to address public safety, including human trafficking in Indian country. You’ll actually be hearing a little bit more about that this week as we head back to Arizona. Last November, the President signed an executive order establishing the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, which is working to help us understand the impact of human trafficking within these communities.
As you all know and as we talked about today, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. To commemorate that anniversary and to renew his commitment to fight against human trafficking, the President hosted a summit on combating human trafficking at the White House in January, and many of you attended. We heard from state, local, and tribal leaders who are on the front lines of this fight and powerful remarks from survivors. The President ended the event by signing an executive order detailing important actions the administration is committed to take to combat human trafficking and online child exploitation, especially within our own borders.
I am happy to hear from so many of you today at this virtual roundtable – hopefully in person next time – that your agencies have made serious headway in carrying out the actions laid out in that executive order. At the Domestic Policy Council, we have been thrilled to add to our team a special advisor for human trafficking, a new position created by our President, never done before by any White House, who is helping to coordinate interagency efforts on the actions called for in the executive order, and generally to ensure that we are moving the ball forward every minute of every hour of every day on this critical issue. Bill Woolf, welcome to the team.
The whole-of-government approach embraced by this Administration in coordination and collaboration with so many of you in the private sector is truly bringing about real change, but we know we have to continue to work hard to bring traffickers to justice and to help victims heal. As the President said earlier this year, we renew our resolve to redouble our efforts to deliver justice to all who contribute to the cruelty of human trafficking, and will tenaciously pursue the promise of freedom for all victims of this terrible crime.
The Domestic Policy Council shares that renewed resolve, and I know all of you do as well. Thank you so much to all of you for the work your agencies are doing to serve victims of human trafficking and hold offenders accountable. The Domestic Policy Council and this White House stands ready to partner with you in carrying out this national action plan and looks so forward to all the incredible progress that we will continue to make together.
Deputy Secretary Biegun, I turn it back over to you. Thank you all so much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Brooke, and thanks for that very nice closing of our discussion.
Let me just add a final word. I want to thank everybody from the White House Task Force who joined today’s meeting. I think it’s pretty clear that there’s a strong commitment across this government in virtually every area, and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate that at the Department of State. It was also very helpful to hear about everyone else’s work in this important priority, and once more I too want to extend my appreciation to Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump for her leadership on this issue.
Again, congratulations to A21 North Carolina and the Navajo Nation for their tremendous commitment to combating human trafficking. Congratulations to both of you for receiving the Presidential Award.
As we reflect on the progress we’ve made thus far, we see also that there is still much to do. I’m heartened by today’s conversation and the incredible wave of effort across this U.S. government, and I’m sure it’ll sustain us and strengthen our resolve to stamp out this terrible crime. Thank you again for all of you who joined this virtual meeting today, and with that, I will adjourn our session. Thank you.