Department of Labor (DOL)/ Department of Wage and Hour FY 2017
THE NEED FOR FUNDING AND REPORT LANGUAGE
$5,000,000 for the extension of services and benefits for victims of trafficking to implement Section 107(b) of the TVPA and report language.
DOL is often the initial investigator of human trafficking crimes, including many cases that involve multiple (20+) victims, as well as a case involving over 400 victims, the largest number of victims ever identified. Without these necessary services many victims of this horrific crime will remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
The President’s 2017 Budget Request for Wage and Hour is $276,599,000, including an increase of over 3,000 FTE. However, DOL requires additional resources to train all of its inspectors to be able to identify and respond to survivors of trafficking. Among victims of trafficking in the United States, trafficking often occurs for labor and most commonly in domestic work, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, construction, health and elder care, hair and nail salons, and strip club dancing. DOL needs the resources to protect and support victims during these investigations, including providing access and referrals to shelter, medical care, mental health services, legal services, and case management.
Although funding for victim services through DOL has been authorized for over a decade, no funds have been provided for victim services programs through DOL. The 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) narrative on U.S. efforts to combat trafficking highlighted:
DOL field investigators were often the first government authorities to detect exploitative labor practices, and the DOL [Wage and Hour Division] targeted industries employing vulnerable workers, such as the agriculture, garment, janitorial, restaurant, and hospitality industries.
Furthermore, the 2014 TIP Report noted that one “federally-funded report found that 30 percent of migrant laborers surveyed in one California community were victims of trafficking,” and it raised the need for increased funding for comprehensive victim services. Similarly, the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report highlighted that among foreign victims of trafficking in the United States, “[t]rafficking occurs primarily for labor and most commonly in domestic servitude, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, construction, health and elder care, hair and nail salons, and strip club dancing. (Emphasis added.)34
These are all areas where DOL has investigative oversight. Furthermore, the reports in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 highlighted the need for increased funding for victim services.35 The 2013 TIP Report stated that DOL had trained WHD investigators on human trafficking and had begun modifying that training for other enforcement agency staff. Given that DOL has already taken important first steps to increase identification of trafficking victims, it is imperative that the U.S. Government appropriate sufficient funds to serve these additional victims once identified.
Additionally, in November 2014, as part of President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration, it was announced that DOL would begin providing T-visa certification and U-visa certification for three additional crimes (extortion, forced labor, and fraud in foreign labor contracting). Wage and Hour employees must be fully trained on investigation protocols and handling of U- or T-visa certification requests. It is imperative that Department of Labor has the resources necessary to support survivors of trafficking and other workplace crimes with either U- or T-visa certification depending on the survivors’ requests.
The Department of Labor must be funded to become a champion in this area. Without necessary services, many victims of this horrific crime will remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. ATEST requests $5,000,000 for services for victims of trafficking to implement Section 107(b) of the TVPA. We are also requesting inclusion of report language recommending funds to ensure comprehensive services for human trafficking victims.
Proposed Report Language
The Committee recommends $5,000,000 for the Wage and Hour Division to implement Sec. 107(b) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (P.L. 103-4) to ensure comprehensive services for human trafficking victims.