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DHS Blue Campaign

What Is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking generates many billions of dollars of profit per year, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.

Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.

Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

Many myths and misconceptions exist. Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Not all indicators listed are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

The safety of the public as well as the victim is paramount. Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.

Human Trafficking Awareness Training

Human trafficking is a hidden crime, and the first step to combating it is to identify victims so they can be rescued and help bring their perpetrators to justice. The Blue Campaign has developed awareness and training materials to help increase awareness and educate on the indicators of human trafficking.

Individuals 

Human Trafficking 101: This fact sheet defines human trafficking, discusses who may be vulnerable, how to identify a potential victim, and how to report a tip. Take 5 minutes over a cup of coffee with your family, friends or colleagues to learn about Human Trafficking and what you can do to help stop it.

First Responders

The Office of Health Affairs and The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administration collaborated on a public awareness video to help first responders identify possible victims of human trafficking.

Watch the video, and find out what you can do to help combat human trafficking.

First Responder Human Trafficking "Coffee Break" Training: Designed for first responders, this fact sheet defines human trafficking, discusses who may be vulnerable, how to identify a potential victim, and how to report a tip.

Law Enforcement

DHS provides a web-based training course to law enforcement officials to train officers on recognizing human trafficking and responding appropriately. This interactive, 30-40 minute course is based on four videos depicting human trafficking scenarios law enforcement officers may encounter during routine duties.

Federal Employees

The Combating Trafficking in Persons for the Acquisition Workforce course is tailored for the U.S. Government acquisition workforce on combating human trafficking using the pertinent provisions of the federal acquisition regulations (FAR). The FAR provides remedies for the acquisition workforce to use against contractors who engage in human trafficking, including debarment. 

Educators

DHS collaborated with the Department of Education to create an informational pamphlet tailored to school administrators and staff.  The double-sided leaflet includes general information on human trafficking, as well as a list of indicators to help education professionals identify and respond to a potential human trafficking situation when encountered. Read the Human Trafficking 101 pamphlet for Educators.

Identify a Victim

Everyone has a role to play in combating human trafficking. Recognizing the signs of human trafficking is the first step to identifying a victim. Our resources page has materials for a more in-depth human trafficking education and a catalog of materials that can be distributed and displayed in your community.

Do not at any time attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to your suspicions. Your safety as well as the victim’s safety is paramount.  Instead, please contact local law enforcement directly or call the tip lines indicated on this page:

  • Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) to report suspicious criminal activity to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The Tip Line is accessible outside the United States by calling 802-872-6199.
  • Submit a tip at www.ice.gov/tips.  Highly trained specialists take reports from both the public and law enforcement agencies on more than 400 laws enforced by ICE HSI, including those related to human trafficking.
  • To get help from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). The NHTRC can help connect victims with service providers in the area and provides training, technical assistance, and other resources. The NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTRC is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government.

By identifying victims and reporting tips, you are doing your part to help law enforcement rescue victims, and you might save a life. Law enforcement can connect victims to services such as medical and mental health care, shelter, job training, and legal assistance that restore their freedom and dignity. The presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.

Learn more about HSI investigations and the victims HSI has assisted from the ICE Newsroom.

Law Enforcement Support

Law enforcement officials may encounter a potential victim of human trafficking during the course of their duties – during domestic disturbance calls; when responding to incidents at massage parlors, bars, and strip clubs; or even during routine traffic stops. 

Recognizing key indicators can save a life. Review the indicators; this is the first step in identifying victims. If you suspect that someone may be a human trafficking victim, please reach out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) at 1-866-347-2423 or a human trafficking task force in your area to work collaboratively on an investigation or report a tip. ICE HSI is responsible for investigating human trafficking and arresting traffickers. There also may be an organization-specific protocol you should follow to notify your supervisor and engage the proper local authorities.

Learn more about:

Please visit our resources page to view law enforcement specific resources, including law enforcement specific training materials.

If your organization is interested in partnering with the Blue Campaign or obtaining additional information about training, please email us.

Resources

A collection of campaign materials, trainings, and videos from the Blue Campaign.

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