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Responding to Foreign Child Victims of Trafficking. Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division Office of Refugee Resettlement U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Overview. Human Trafficking Overview Identifying Victims of Trafficking HHS/ORR Response to Human Trafficking

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Responding to foreign child victims of trafficking

Responding to Foreign Child Victims of Trafficking

Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division

Office of Refugee Resettlement

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Human Trafficking Overview

Identifying Victims of Trafficking

HHS/ORR Response to Human Trafficking

HHS/ORR Anti-Trafficking Resources

Part 1:

Human Trafficking


Human trafficking is
Human Trafficking is….

  • the use of force, fraud or coercion for involuntary labor, debt bondage or commercial sex

  • modern-day slavery

  • a violation of human rights

  • global in scope

  • a federal crime in the United States

  • based on principles of supply and demand

  • highly profitable for traffickers who can sell the same product (human being) over and over

Who are the traffickers
Who are the traffickers?

  • Large-scale

    • sophisticated national and international crime networks

    • highly organized from the recruitment, transportation, and exploitation stages of human trafficking

    • often well-connected in country of origin

  • Medium-scale

    • often specialize in a particular source and destination country

    • may include pimps, brothel owners, farm owners, salon owners

  • Small-scale

    • focus on recruiting a particular victim

    • may be neighbors, friends, “boyfriends”, family members

Promises and methods
Promises and Methods

  • Methods

  • Threats of physical harm to victim or family

  • Threats of deportation or arrest

  • Isolation

  • Debt

  • Confiscation of money, passports, visa, identification documents


  • Earn money to support family back home

  • Receive U.S. education

  • Adoption

  • Marriage

  • A better life

* Traffickers are manipulators who are skilled at gaining the trust of victims and preying on their vulnerabilities to recruit them into the trafficking situation.

The victims
The Victims

  • Men, women, and children

  • Individuals, families, or groups

  • Diverse in race, class, religion, and culture

  • Youth running away from unstable family environments

  • Homeless youth (aka “street kids”)

  • Youth with history of physical and/or sexual abuse

Framework for human trafficking response
Framework for Human Trafficking Response

  • International

    • The United Nations’ Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Palermo Protocol)

    • As of June 2013, more than140 countries have criminalized sex and labor trafficking*

  • National

    • Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations (‘03, ‘05, ’08, and ‘13)

  • States

    • Many states have passed anti-trafficking laws or have legislation pending.

* Department of State’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report:

Trafficking victims protection act tvpa
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines severe forms of trafficking in persons as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for:

For labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery; or

(2) For the purpose of a commercial sex act in which the sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. 

Key elements of federal definition
Key Elements of Federal Definition

  • Coercionmeans threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process. (22 U.S.C. § 7102(3)).

  • Involuntary Servitude“includes a condition of servitude induced by means of (A) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or (B) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.” (22 U.S.C. § 7102(6)).

  • Peonagemeans a status or condition of involuntary servitude based on real or alleged indebtedness. (8 CFR 214.11)

  • Debt bondagemeans “the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those of a person under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.” (22 U.S.C. §7102(5)).

Key elements of federal definition1
Key Elements of Federal Definition

Action: recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or

obtaining of a person

Means: use of force, fraud, coercion

Purpose: subjection to commercial sex*, involuntary

servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery

*Any child (under 18) who is induced to perform a commercial sex act is, by federal law, a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons. Means need not apply.

Trafficking vs smuggling
Trafficking vs. Smuggling


Crime against a person

Victims either do not consent to their situations, or if they initially consent, that consent is rendered meaningless by the actions of the traffickers.

Exploitation of victims to generate illicit gains for the traffickers.

Trafficking need not entail the physical movement of a person (but must entail the exploitation of the person for labor or commercial sex)


Crime against a country

The transaction is mutual and usually ends upon arrival at desired destination.

Business arrangement between smuggler and person wanting to facilitate the illicit crossing of a nation’s border.

Smuggling is always transnational.

Part 2:

Identifying Victims of Trafficking

Trafficking victims have been identified in the following sectors
Trafficking victims have been identified in the following sectors…

  • Labor Trafficking

  • Domestic servitude

  • Agricultural labor

  • Sweatshops/factories

  • Salons (nails, hair braiding)

  • Janitorial work

  • Housekeeping

  • Peddling

Sex Trafficking

  • Street prostitution

  • Exotic dancing bars

  • Latino bars

  • Asian massage parlors

  • Residential brothels

  • Escort services

Challenges to identification may include
Challenges to identification sectors…may include….

  • Hidden nature of the crime

  • Victims often do not self-identify

  • Traffickers coach victims through threats and sometimes violence

  • Victims are fearful of harm to themselves and their families

  • Shame

  • Mistrust of authorities

  • Feel they are honor-bound to pay debts

  • Trauma bond with traffickers

  • Lack of understanding by community of human trafficking

Potential indicators of trafficking
Potential sectors… Indicators of Trafficking

Minor (under 18) involved in commercial sex

Forced to live at workplace or with employer

Employer keeping identification documents

Works long hours, in exploitive labor, under bad conditions

Unpaid, under paid, or giving over all earnings to someone else

Increasing or unending debt




Unable to choose residence or job

Recruited with false promises

Agreement changes upon arrival

Fear or false hope

Complex case trends
Complex Case Trends sectors…

Interrupted, clandestine journeys

Potential Trafficking in other Criminal Activities

Drug trafficking

Hostage taking

Best practices for screening children
Best Practices for sectors…Screening Children

Provide a safe and confidential environment

Clarify your role

Allow the child to make choices – where they would like to sit, when they would like to take a break or stop the interview

Use child-friendly language

Avoid leading questions and ask open-ended questions around the edges of the child’s experience

Use a qualified interpreter, if needed

Limit interviews by utilizing Child Advocacy Center model when possible

Give consideration to the role that trauma may play in the child’s response to the interview process

Assess child’s age and brain development prior to conducting interview

Take time to build rapport

Sample screening questions
Sample Screening Questions sectors…

  • What type of work do you do?

  • If commercial sex – is anything of value exchanged?*

  • Describe your working conditions.

    • How many hours do you work?

    • How often do you get paid and how much?

    • Do you owe money to anyone? If so, how much?

    • How do you get to and from work?

    • Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom?

  • Describe your living conditions.

  • Have you been physically harmed in any way?

  • Are you afraid of someone harming you or your family?

  • Do you have your identification papers?

    *Minors induced to perform a commercial sex act are victims of human trafficking, regardless of force, fraud, or coercion.

Protocols for a child protection response
Protocols for a Child Protection Response sectors…

  • Safety issues

  • Guardianship issues

  • Engaging CPS

  • Immediate and long-term placement options

  • Interviewing children

    • Child trauma and developmental issues

    • Challenges and resources

Part 3 hhs orr response to human trafficking
Part 3: sectors…HHS/ORR Response to Human Trafficking

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (DHHS) sectors…ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (ACF)OFFICE OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT (ORR)  ATIPDCS  UAC URM* There are other ORR divisions (DRA, DRS, and DRH) that assist refugee populations, but DCS and ATIP specifically address the needs of child victims of trafficking.


Created to implement the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (and subsequent reauthorizations)


Created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002; transferred care/placement of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) from Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) to ORR in 2003

Provides temporary shelter to UAC, including those who are potential or eligible victims of trafficking.


Created in 1979 to serve unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. from refugee camps.

A long-term placement option for eligible, UAC victims of trafficking.

Division of anti trafficking in persons atip
Division of Anti-Trafficking sectors…in Persons (ATIP)

Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign

Rescue & Restore Regional Program

Comprehensive case management services for foreign victims of trafficking

National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC):1-888-373-7888

Certification and Eligibility Letters

Requesting assistance for a potential foreign child victim of trafficking
Requesting Assistance for a Potential Foreign Child Victim of Trafficking

Request for Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking form

Provides information for ORR to determine if a child may be eligible for assistance

Submit forms to: [email protected] or by fax to: 202-401-5487

When preparing a case for referral
When Preparing a Case for Referral… of Trafficking

Ensure the case summary reflects the elements of the federal definition of a severe form of trafficking.

State facts and child’s statements only, no assumptions please.

Be specific, but only information germane to the trafficking situation is necessary.

If interviewing the child, remember to take a child-focused, victim-centered approach.

Use open-ended questions that will not be leading, and will allow for detailed responses.

Child trafficking law enforcement reporting responsibility
Child Trafficking of TraffickingLaw Enforcement Reporting Responsibility

Section 107(b)(1)(G) of the TVPA:

“Not later than 24 hours after a Federal, State, or local official discovers that a person who is under 18 years of age may be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, the official shall notify [HHS] to facilitate the provision of interim assistance ....”

Contact us at: [email protected]

or 202-205-4582

Eligibility letter
Eligibility Letter of Trafficking

Issued by ORR to a foreign child who is determined by ORR to be a victim of a severe form of human trafficking

Cooperation with law enforcement is not a requirement for foreign children to be issued an Eligibility Letter

Receipt of Continued Presence, a bona-fide T visa determination or T nonimmigrant status is not required for a foreign child to be issued an Eligibility Letter

Eligibility Letters do not expire

Interim assistance
Interim Assistance of Trafficking

ORR issues an Interim Assistance Letter to a foreign child who may have been subjected to trafficking

It provides a 90-day period of eligibility for benefits while the case is under ORR/ATIP review and additional information is collected.

After issuing interim assistance, HHS/ORR is required to consult with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and nongovernmental organizations with expertise on victims of trafficking before determining the child's eligibility as a victim of trafficking.

Cooperation with law enforcement is not a requirement for a foreign child to be issued an Interim Assistance Letter

ORR State Letter regarding Interim Assistance:

Benefit options for minors with eligibility letters
Benefit Options for Minors with Eligibility Letters of Trafficking

URM Program

Access to benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee, to include, but not limited to:

Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Food Stamps (SNAP)

Reporting responsibilities
Reporting Responsibilities of Trafficking

  • Federal, State, and Local officials: Do you believe an alien minor may be a victim of human trafficking?

    If yes, you are required by federal law to notify HHS to facilitate assistance. (22 USC § 7105(b)(1)(G))

    Call an ORR/ATIP Child Protection Specialist at 202-205-4582.

  • Do you believe a minor may have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a caretaker in the United States?

    If yes, contact your local child welfare agency to make a report. Note: Mandated reporter laws and child protection policies vary greatly depending on your jurisdiction. If you have any questions, reach out to your local child welfare agency.

Part 4: of Trafficking

HHS/ORR Anti-Trafficking


Rescue restore resource materials
Rescue & Restore of TraffickingResource Materials

Rescue restore campaign website www rescueandrestore org
Rescue & Restore of TraffickingCampaign

Anti trafficking in persons division child protection specialist
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division of TraffickingChild Protection Specialist

[email protected]