Human Trafficking as a Political Priority Within the Past Five Years

Human Trafficking as a Political Priority Within the Past Five Years

Human trafficking has been a highlighted concern within the last and current administrations because there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. President Trump promised that his administration would “tenaciously pursue the promise of freedom for victims of this terrible crime.” Vice President Kamala Harris stated that the clear theme in the Biden Administration’s work is being “focused on the most vulnerable.” This post aims to highlight some of the actions taken by the previous and current administrations to fight against human trafficking. Combatting modern slavery is a bipartisan and global effort and this post does not demean those efforts with political bias.

The Trump Administration, 2017-2021

-Signed an Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the U.S. to focus on online grooming in 2020

-Released a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in 2020

-Approved a $35 million Department of Justice grant package to combat human trafficking, including safe housing grants for survivors. (Note: Part of the housing grant funds were abruptly halted without explanation)

-Opened over 1,600 investigations into human traffickers in 2019 with 8,500 cases being reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline that year

-Signed agreements with El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to discourage labor exploitation

-The DHS created the Center for Countering Human Trafficking, creating a place for allies to coordinate efforts to fight against modern slavery

-Created the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives to combat trafficking in tribal communities

-Signed four bills to end human trafficking:

  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act which defines trafficking standards in order to prosecute it
  • The Abolish Human Trafficking Act to strengthen programs that aid survivors
  • The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act which allocated $430 million to aid in efforts to fight human trafficking
  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act to increase efforts to bring traffickers to justice

-The Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations made 1,588 human trafficking arrests, predominantly for sex trafficking violations in 2018

The Biden Administration, 2021-Current

-Released an updated National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in 2021

-The Senior Policy Operating Group created a team to analyze the gaps in employment-based visas to prevent exploitation

-The Department of Commerce launched a group to address forced labor in the seafood industry

-The Department of Defense launched a Student Guide to Preventing Human Trafficking for military-connected high school students

-Implemented the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced labor in China

-The DOJ announced $87 million in funding to combat human trafficking in the U.S.

-The DOJ launched Joint Task Force Alpha to combat migrant smuggling and trafficking of persons from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico, largely focused on dismantling the criminal networks that create exploitative conditions at the border

-Created its own version of the Missing Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office to help solve cold cases

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