2018 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review

New Tool to Differentiate Human Trafficking from Prostitution

(Application of support tools useful for DHS identification of illegal immigrant women trapped in human trafficking scenarios in the U.S., if found during a raid)



The purpose of this topic is to assist DHS, Law Enforcement and others to differentiate between Prostitution and Human Trafficking, by introducing a New Official Screening Tool.



During immigration enforcement DHS and other Agencies will likely encounter increased Human Trafficking conditions that must be recognized and handled adequately. After the previous 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, a new official resource has emerged from the DOJ and is discuss below.



Prosecution of offenders of Human Trafficking falls into the category of enforcement of Title18 Ch77





HHS Statistics:

According to recent Human Health Services Human Trafficking Data, there is an estimated 199,000 incidents of sexual exploitation of minors occurring each year in the United States, and 14,500-17,500 individuals are trafficked annually into the United States from other countries. Source: https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/human-trafficking-and-within-united-states-review-literature


The U.S. Government defines human trafficking as:

 Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.

 The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.


The United Nations defines human trafficking as:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation.


-----------------------EVALUATION OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS-----------------------


Some individuals are trapped in circumstances against their will, and yet others are actually in the U.S. against their will, forced into a condition similar to Slavery. For the condition of Human Trafficking to be evaluated, the alleged victims must be isolated from their hostile conditions and asked a series of questions. An interview of the proposed victims of Human Trafficking in a safe setting would require the following general questions to be answered:


 Check Law Enforcement official case information for the occupants of a given facility in which prostitution or Human Trafficking is suspected, and/or any connection to abuse or arrests.


 Acquire names, ages and immigration documents.

 Country of Birth needs to be verified, as well as all countries the individuals of interest have citizenship.

 Preferred language should be identified.

 Education level of the alleged victims of Human Trafficking should be established.

 Determine whether language barriers ever prevented them from seeking help?


 Determine the nature of their migration to the U.S., where they came from, what year they arrived in the U.S., how their transport to the U.S. was arranged, and who was involved.

 Determine if anyone forced them to come here, what they were pressured to come here to do, and if anyone is depriving them or their identity documents.

 Did they come here to find work? For family? To escape abuse? To get married?

 How much in total did it cost to come to the U.S. and how they paid or are paying for it? Are they still in debt? Have they been pressured to do anything they don’t want to do to pay their debt back?

 Did anyone force them to obtain false identity documents (e.g. a fake Green Card)


 Where do you live now? Alone or with family? Who else lives with them?

 Do they live in the same place that they work, or have they ever?

 Was there at any time locks on the doors or windows where they lived or worked that prevented them from leaving?

 Did anyone where they were living or working monitor them and/or attempt to prevent them from calling their family or friends?

 Did anyone ever threaten to report them to someone who would harm them, or to tell lies to the Police and get them in trouble?

 Did they ever see anyone else where they lived or worked be threatened or get harmed by anyone? If so, who were they and who harmed them?

 Has anyone ever pressured or tricked them into doing something they didn’t want to do?

 Determine if anyone depriving them of their basic necessities or social contacts, threatening to report them to authorities or to harm their families?

 Have they had to participate in any sexual activities that they don’t want to, or took inappropriate photos? If so who forced them to do it?

 Were any of them under the age of 18 when they had sex in exchange for other things of value?

 Was money taken from them in exchange for food or clothes or rent?

 Is the amount of food they are allowed to eat controlled?

 Does anyone control the amount of sleep they are allowed to get?

WORKING CONDITIONS: Attempt to determine the ways in which they are being exploited.

 Ask what the different jobs they have had are while they have been in the U.S., and if anyone underpaid or failed to pay them, and what they expected to receive, and what if anything did they receive.

 Have they ever felt they cannot leave the place where they work? What would happen if they tried to leave?

 Was their work payment given to someone else, and if so who?

 Determine who recruited them for the job activities.

 Were they ever made to sign a document or work contract without fully understanding what was on it?

 Were they forced to do work other than what they were promised or told they were going to be doing? What were they promised, and what did they end up doing?

 Did anyone at work or otherwise make them feel scared, and how so?

 Did anyone threaten them or even hurt them since they have been in the U.S., or threaten someone they care about? If so, who and what did they say or do?

 Has anyone at work asked them to lie about their age or lie about what they do?

 Are there other people like them at other locations, and if so do they know where?

 Are your needs for safety, housing, and other assistance being met (for instance, if the client is foreign born and has immigration questions, social services, employment or other needs).

 OSHA criteria: Are they allowed to take breaks where they work? How long? What would happen if they had an emergency and couldn’t work? Have they ever been sick and if so were they given medical care or prevented from getting care?

 Is a particular website or person procuring customers? What venue is used to transition to sales of sex activities? Whose idea is the sexual encounters for money and related services?


 Do they have any addictions or medical needs that need to be managed?

 Is there anything else in particular that they need help with?



See the NIJ research related to the official tool and article here:

National Institute of Justice, “A Screening Tool for Identifying Trafficking Victims” September 20, 2016, from NIJ.gov: http://nij.gov/topics/crime/human-trafficking/Pages/screening-tool-for-identifying-human-trafficking-vicitms.aspx


See the State Dept. Human Trafficking identification Criteria Table here:




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