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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the Meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons


Washington, DC
United States

Thanks Tony [Blinken]. And good afternoon to everyone. Human trafficking is an insidious crime. Traffickers exploit some of the most vulnerable members of our society and cause their victims unimaginable harm and trauma.

Combating human trafficking demands, as everyone has said, a whole of government approach. And that’s why the Justice Department was pleased to support the development of the President’s National Action Plan.

This week, I will be submitting to Congress two annual Trafficking in Persons reports required under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act for Fiscal Year’s 2019 and ’20 that were unfortunately not submitted by the prior administration. These important reports detail activities and programs across the U.S. government to combat human trafficking.

Soon after issuing those two reports, the Justice Department will be issuing its new National Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy.

Our strategy is aligned with the foundational pillars of the President’s National Action Plan, namely: prevention of human trafficking; prosecution of human trafficking cases; protection of human trafficking victims and survivors; and partnership at every level of government. Today, I would like to highlight three areas of our focus.

First, we are expanding our capacity to prevent human trafficking. Prevention requires a trauma-informed, culturally-responsive approach. To this end, we are developing a victim screening protocol to identify potential trafficking victims and encourage victims to share important information.

We are also working together with federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial law enforcement partners to develop prevention strategies and conduct advanced trainings.

Second, we are expanding our capacity to prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking crimes. Human trafficking cases are complex, and successfully investigating and prosecuting them requires partnership across all levels of government.

Last year, we established Joint Task Force Alpha in partnership with DHS. Its mission is to work within the United States, and with our foreign partners in the Northern Triangle and Mexico, to dismantle criminal networks that endanger, abuse and exploit migrants, and engage in human trafficking.

In addition, as part of our commitment to ending forced labor, DOJ’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit will launch a Forced Labor Initiative in collaboration with the FBI and DHS.

Meanwhile, our law enforcement components are stepping up their efforts to investigate human trafficking crimes.

For one example, the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces operate within nearly every one of the FBI’s 56 field offices to recover victims and investigate traffickers at the state and federal level.

And just last weekend, the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office worked with its local law enforcement partners to announce a major recovery effort of missing children and trafficking victims.

As another example, at the end of 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service announced that it had assisted with the recovery of 950 “critically missing children” – a 145% increase over the previous year.

Finally, we are focused on providing protection and trauma-informed assistance to victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Last year, DOJ awarded more than $85 million in funding to combat human trafficking.

In the year ahead, our Office for Victims of Crime – which manages the largest amount of federal funding dedicated to supporting victims of human trafficking – will continue to award funding to combat trafficking and support victims’ services. This will include access to safe, stable housing options.

The Justice Department remains committed to our shared goals of preventing human trafficking, detecting human trafficking, prosecuting the perpetrators of human trafficking crimes and [protecting]* and empowering survivors.

Thank you very much.

Human Trafficking
Human Smuggling
Updated January 25, 2022