U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) FY 2016


$8,800,000 above the President’s request to support 40 new positions to conduct forced labor and human trafficking investigations by ICE.

$20,000,000 for the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit within the ICE Cyber Crimes Center to combat child sexual exploitation.

Report language on training for ICE officers, especially to identify labor trafficking cases, and on assisting human trafficking victims with immigration relief and access to victim services.

Summary of Program
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the first line of defense in identifying and stopping severe forms of human trafficking. To combat the problem of trafficking, ICE has focused on “attacking the infrastructure that supports smuggling organizations,” which might include a proactive approach of seizing traffickers’ property, weapons, and vehicles.49 Additional resources will be used to expand investigations and enforcement actions against suspected traffickers and help reduce the incidents of trafficking, forced labor, and other forms of modern slavery in the United States. ICE also leads investigations of American child sex tourists with agents in 75 offices in 48 countries around the world with more than 380 government and contract personnel committed to the agency’s mission.50


In FY 2009, ICE provided assistance in 566 cases that were connected to human trafficking, which was a significant increase from 2008. These investigations produced 388 criminal arrests, doubling the number of arrests in 2008, and rendered 148 indictments and 165 convictions. Also in FY 2009, ICE investigations resulted in 61 counts of human trafficking violations, which led to 26 convictions.51 The chart below details the numbers of defendants who have been arrested, indicted, and convicted from 2005-2012.52

Defendants Arrested / Indicted / Convicted by ICE (2005-2012)
Fiscal Year Investigations Arrests Indictments Convictions
2005 274 101 58 10
2006 299 184 130 102
2007 348 165 107 91
2008 432 189 126 126
2009 566 388 148 165
2010 651 300 151 144
2011 722 938 444 271
2012 894 967 559 381

In 2012, ICE HSI reported investigating 894 cases possibly involving human trafficking, an increase from 722 cases investigated in FY 2011. This is a 23% increase in investigations in just one year.

DHS plays an important role in combating child sexual exploitation both at home and abroad. In FY14, investigations led to the conviction of over 1,000 people for child exploitation. This was an increase of 50 percent over 2010. Additionally investigations resulted in the identification of over 1,000 children. Investigations into child sex tourists and companies that enable child sex tourists take significant time and resources. The funding requested would allow DHS to increase their ability to coordinate with other countries to prevent known registered child sex offenders from exploiting children.


Additional resources are needed to continue to expand investigations against suspected human traffickers and help reduce the incidents of human trafficking and forced labor in the United States and abroad.

We request $8,800,000 above the President’s request to support 40 new positions to conduct forced labor and human trafficking investigations by ICE. Congress established this program under Section 113(i) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, as amended by its reauthorization in 2005, 2008, and 2013.

In addition to the amount listed above, we are requesting $20,000,000 for the Department of Homeland Security to combat child sexual exploitation.


Proposed Report Language

The Committee recommends $8,800,000 above the President’s request to support 40 new positions to conduct forced labor and human trafficking investigations and to expand investigations against suspected human traffickers. Congress called on ICE to take a more active role in pursuing investigations of human trafficking under Sec. 113(i) of the TVPA of 2000, as amended by the TVPRA of 2005, the TVPRA of 2008, and the TVPRA of 2013. ICE is one of the first lines of defense in combating this crime as it enters the U.S.


Training for ICE Officers

As mentioned above, ICE officers are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat human trafficking. The nuances of trafficking cases may be ignored in the rush of large immigration cases. Too often, victims are treated as criminals rather than the victims they are. Additionally, victims are not provided with the benefits and support that is mandated by the TVPA. For example, despite increased numbers of investigations and victims identified, in FY 2012 ICE issued Continued Presence to only 199 trafficking victims, a significant decrease from 283 in FY 2011. It is critical that ICE officers receive the training they need to identify and assist trafficking victims. Furthermore, we recommend that ICE officers receive enhanced training on the identification of trafficking for labor. Several recent studies, including one conducted by the Urban Institute last year, have documented the shortcomings of law enforcement in identifying and protecting victims of trafficking for labor. In particular, there is widespread confusion around how “coercion” typically manifests in trafficking for labor as a part of the “force, fraud, or coercion” in the definition of severe forms of human trafficking under the TVPA. Amendments to the TVPA further clarified the kind of coercion often experienced by workers, such as a climate of fear and intimidation, immigration based threats, and other kinds of psychological harm. Yet these more subtle forms of coercion, as opposed to the common fact patterns in trafficking for commercial sex, are difficult for untrained law enforcement officers to identify. This leaves countless victims of human trafficking without resources, or worse – wrongfully detained and deported.

Additionally, ICE investigators need consistent training in identifying the distinctions between smuggling and trafficking for labor, and between labor exploitation and human trafficking for labor, and importantly, how to refer people for assistance at any point in the spectrum of exploitation. The training could be delivered in partnership with the Department of Labor and non-governmental organizations who work with survivors of trafficking for labor, who have already invested time into helping advocates identify trafficking for labor in “hard to reach” populations like farm workers and domestic workers. To accomplish these goals, we ask that the following language be included in the Committee Report for the FY 2016 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.


Proposed Report Language

ICE plays a critical role in investigating criminal organizations trafficking individuals into and within the United States. The Committee encourages ICE to work with appropriate non-governmental organizations and victim service providers to improve the training of ICE officers in the field to assist in the identification of human trafficking victims and provide appropriate referrals to victim service organizations. The Committee also encourages ICE to develop, in consultation with Department of Labor or non-governmental organizations, enhanced training for ICE officers on the identification of labor trafficking, as well as on the distinctions between smuggling and labor trafficking, between labor exploitation and labor trafficking, and appropriate process of referral for identified victims of labor exploitation or labor trafficking. In addition, the Committee encourages ICE to examine its policies around granting Continued Presence to ensure that victims who come forward to report to law enforcement are granted this form of relief.


Rights for Human Trafficking Victims

When ICE initiates a crime raid, trafficking victims often are swept away and initially detained as criminals. We request report language to encourage ICE to identify trafficking victims early in the investigations and, if possible, prior to detention. The treatment of trafficking victims as criminals undermines their cooperation in the prosecutions of their traffickers, insofar as the trafficking victims do not trust the government and will not cooperate after incarceration. It is critical to the future prosecution of traffickers and the rehabilitation of the victims that the victims receive the appropriate medical, psychological, and legal assistance as soon as possible. Indeed, the TVPA gives specific legal rights to trafficked persons, including the right to appropriate shelter not incompatible with their status as victims of a crime (22 U.S.C. § 7105(c)(1)(A)). Additionally, Continued Presence, a temporary form of immigration relief, was explicitly created under the TVPA of 2000 to provide status to potential trafficking victims. Too often victims are not receiving this form of relief in a timely matter, and additional burdens are placed on the cooperating victim as well as the service providers assisting the victim who remains without status in the United States.53


Proposed Report Language

The Committee directs ICE to identify potential victims of human trafficking and forced labor early in any ICE or ICE-led investigations and provide informational materials and referrals for victim assistance as quickly as possible prior to any legal action. The Committee encourages ICE to work with non-governmental organizations and victim service providers on victim referrals and assistance. The Committee also encourages ICE to seek: (1) Continued Presence for potential trafficking victims as soon as possible to assist in the prosecution of traffickers and aid in victim recovery and (2) assist local and state law enforcement to understand the requirements of CP and promptly respond to any state or local requests by law enforcement for CP for potential victims of human trafficking.