US Advisory Council Annual Report Highlights Necessary Changes to Anti- Trafficking Efforts

Share this:

Each year, the US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking releases a report outlining recommendations for US federal agencies to improve their anti-trafficking efforts. The Council is made up of lived experience experts appointed by each Presidential administration for two-year terms. The Council’s 2023 report highlights the need for increased input from those with lived experience, better coordination between agencies so survivors can access all the services they are eligible for,and calls for the government to look at the long-term impacts of trafficking, not just emergency needs.

Throughout the recommendations, FNUSA was thrilled to see the Council encourage federal agencies to look beyond the moment of crisis when someone exits a trafficking situation, and expand their efforts to include addressing the long-term impacts of trafficking. Survivors often face life-long financial instability and debt, health and mental health concerns, barriers to education, and housing instability. By connecting survivors with existing services and creating new services to address these issues long-term, the US government would promote stability and help prevent further exploitation.

The Council made extensive and necessary recommendations for improving survivors’ access to both emergency and long-term housing. Survivors are often eligible for housing services that are not designed specifically for survivors, but survivors are rarely able to access these services. There is a lack of awareness among housing providers of how survivors can access these services, including access points, eligibility requirements, and waitlists. LGBTQ+ and male survivors, survivors with physical and mental health challenges, and survivors of labor trafficking face increased barriers to stable housing. Training for staff at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on trauma-informed care, sustainable housing for survivors, and addressing these barriers will support more victims and survivors in accessing these necessary services.

The Council provided detailed recommendations for oversight and changes to immigration policies that would help identify potential trafficking victims and prevent the exploitation of workers. FNUSA was grateful to see the Council recommend increased oversight of temporary work visas that are often exploited by traffickers, improved support across agencies for unaccompanied children who are at risk of labor trafficking in the US, and support for creating a bona fide determination process for T Visa applicants so they can safely and legally work while waiting for their application decision. The US immigration system is designed to make people vulnerable to trafficking and provides insufficient protections for survivors. The Council’s recommendations would provide substantial increases in safety for survivors, non-citizen workers, and unaccompanied children, who are at high risk of human trafficking.

The Council also provided recommendations to support communities that have not received sufficient federal resources or programs. The recommendations included support for Indigenous communities, who are greatly impacted by forced labor in high-risk industries, including drug trafficking. The federal government can help fill the gap in culturally responsive training and resources for Indigenous communities, especially those in Alaska, Hawaii, US territories, and Freely Associated States. The Council also highlighted the intersection of trafficking and the epidemic of missing and murdered Black women and girls in the US. Structural, systemic, and ongoing racism puts Black women and girls at risk of human trafficking. The US government must comprehensively address violence against the Black community as a vital part of the prevention of human trafficking in the US.

FNUSA appreciates the expertise of the Council and its thorough recommendations that prioritize the long-term needs of survivors. The Council is tasked with the responsibility of looking at the entire federal government’s response to trafficking across many agencies to make its recommendations, which is no small feat. We echo the Council’s emphasis on protections for immigrant workers and immigrant survivors, increased housing services for survivors, and coordination among agencies to ensure survivors have access to more services.