On December 27, 2022, President Biden signed the “Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2022,” which codifies and expands the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT). The bill authorizes $14 million to carry out the Act and ensures that the CCHT is staffed with at least 45 employees to carry out the Department’s critical work to combat human trafficking.
“This is a seminal moment in our fight against the scourge of human trafficking,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “With the increased funding and additional personnel dedicated to our leading DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, we will advance our work to identify and support victims, conduct operations that hold the traffickers accountable, and strengthen our partnerships with non-governmental organizations. We are grateful for this critical legislation that supports our victim-centered, all-of-society efforts to end human trafficking.”
“The Countering Human Trafficking Act will increase and expand the CCHT’s effectiveness in targeting human traffickers around the globe, protecting victims, and supporting counter-trafficking work throughout DHS,” said Cardell T. Morant, CCHT Director. “Importantly, it will also facilitate the continued development of the Blue Campaign, the Department’s national human trafficking awareness initiative, designed to educate the American public about the signs of trafficking and the ways in which they can help trafficking victims and help bring suspected traffickers to justice. We are grateful to Congressional leadership and our partners for recognizing the value in this DHS center.”
“This is a significant milestone in the continued growth and advancement of the CCHT mission,” said Steve Francis, Acting Executive Associate Director for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “The signing of this legislation marks an important day that institutionalizes the DHS counter-trafficking mission, including victim identification and screening, victim protection and assistance, investigations and enforcement, and training, outreach, and engagement. I would like to highlight the importance of our partnerships with non-government organizations and their critical role in HSI’s victim-centered approach to human trafficking investigations.”
The mission of the CCHT is to advance counter human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims, and enhance prevention efforts by aligning DHS’s capabilities and expertise. CCHT is a DHS-wide effort led by HSI and comprising 16 supporting DHS offices and agencies. It is the first unified, inter-component coordination center for countering human trafficking and the importation of goods produced with forced labor.
CCHT leverages subject matter experts to drive criminal investigations of forced labor and sex trafficking, seeks improvements to the delivery of victim protections including through DHS policies and protocols, and increases victim identification through training and public awareness. During FY2022, CCHT hosted the first ever quarterly webinars for the law enforcement community to raise awareness of a temporary immigration designation for victims of trafficking in persons, improved victim screening tools, and delivered training through 53 events to nearly 6,000 participants – double the number of participants from the prior year.
Additionally, this past fiscal year the CCHT provided direct support – including financial, intelligence, and subject matter expertise – to criminal investigations focused on disrupting and dismantling transnational human trafficking organizations and identifying and investigating companies and individuals benefiting from forced labor abroad. In FY22, the work of the CCHT helped secure more than 3,600 arrests and 600 convictions. This represents an increase of more than 50 percent in human trafficking arrests and an increase of more than 75 percent in human trafficking-related convictions over the previous fiscal year.
At the Summit of the Americas in June, twenty countries signed the U.S.-led Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which included a commitment to collaborate on saving lives, and combating migrant smuggling and criminal human trafficking organizations as well as their facilitators and money laundering networks. The CCHT will continue to build on the momentum and collaboration that started at the Summit.
To learn more about the CCHT, visit the CCHT website and click on the Annual Report drop-down. The CCHT will issue a new annual report covering FY22 in January 2023.