The NCSL Blog


By Carlee Goldberg

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its first strategy to strengthen the United States’ role in combating human trafficking, the importation of goods produced with forced labor and child sexual exploitation.

Homeland Security Investigations Victim Assistance Specialists inform victims of their rights, offer support, and refer victims to servicesThe strategy, which has five key goals, aims to comprehensively combat human trafficking through a reorganization of resources across agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

The five steps are:

Prevention. Focuses efforts on preventing trafficking from occurring in the first place. Initiatives include:

  • Assessing current prevention tactics at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels.
  • Providing additional resources to vulnerable groups.
  • Creating a program aimed at reducing the perpetration of trafficking.
  • Working with technology industries to better share information.
  • Increasing oversight of labor contracts.
  • Appointing officials responsible for implementing anti-human trafficking regulations across DHS.

Protection.  Recognizes the need to aid victims of human trafficking, forced labor and child sexual exploitation. Through the improvement of identifying and reporting suspected instances and adopting a victim-centered approach to providing services, DHS hopes to create better outcomes for those who have experienced exploitation.

Prosecution. Calls for better support of investigations and prosecutions of transnational and domestic cases of trafficking, forced labor, and child sexual exploitation and recommends methods to implement this support through improving information sharing and better data management.

Partnership. Strengthens partnerships with survivors, foreign governments, the private sector, states and communities to better enhance the DHS’s ability to respond to human trafficking. This will be done by establishing field-based fellowships and developing regional approaches that fit the needs of survivors and patterns of trafficking networks.

Enabling the DHS. Addresses efforts within the DHS to strengthen the department’s effectiveness of combating human trafficking. These reforms include better organization of the department’s capabilities to assess intersectional crimes and to support the well-being of law enforcement personnel responsible for the implementation of this strategy.

Using these five goals, DHS hopes to reduce the near 11,000 cases of human trafficking, forced labor, and child sexual exploitation that occurred in 2018, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline, a number that increases by the year.

NCSL Resources:

Carlee Goldberg is an intern with NCSL's Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Health and Human Services and Immigration Programs in NCSL's Washington, D.C., office.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.