Anti-Trafficking in Persons


Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery.

Victims include young children, teenagers, men and women.  Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sex entertainment industry. But trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work.

Trafficking Techniques

Traffickers use various techniques to instill fear in victims and to keep them enslaved. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. More frequently, however, traffickers use less obvious techniques:

  • Debt bondage financially obligates victims to satisfy a debt
  • Isolation
    • Limited contact with outsiders is monitored or superficial in nature
    • Victims are kept away from family and their ethnic and religious community
  • Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents
  • Threats
    • Of violence toward victims and/or families of victims
    • Of shame by exposing circumstances to family
    • Of imprisonment or deportation for immigration violations if they contact authorities
  • Control of the victims' money

After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and is the fastest growing.

In October 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) made human trafficking a federal crime. TVPA prevents human trafficking overseas, protects victims and helps them rebuild their lives in the U.S. In addition, it allows for prosecution of traffickers under federal penalties. This is the first comprehensive federal law to protect victims of trafficking and prosecute their traffickers.

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) program supports several initiatives in the fight against human trafficking.

Victim Identification and Public Awareness

  • Rescue and Restore Campaign

ATIP leads the Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign which established Rescue and Restore coalitions in 24 cities, regions and states. These community action groups are comprised of Non-government Organization (NGO) leaders, academics, students, law enforcement agents, and other key stakeholders who are committed to addressing the problem of human trafficking in their own communities.

  • Rescue and Restore Regional Program

The Rescue and Restore Regional Program serves as the focal point for regional public awareness campaign activities, intensifying local outreach to identify victims of human trafficking. Each Rescue and Restore Regional partner oversees and builds a local anti-trafficking network, sub-awarding 60 percent of grant funds to grassroots organizations that identify and work with victims. Acting as a focal point for regional anti-trafficking efforts, Rescue and Restore Regional partners encourage a cohesive and collaborative approach in the fight against modern day slavery.

Assistance for Victims of Human Trafficking

  • Certifications and Eligibility Letters
    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the sole federal agency authorized to certify adult foreign victims of human trafficking. Similarly, it is the sole federal agency authorized to provide eligibility letters to minor foreign victims of human trafficking. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within HHS issues all certifications and eligibility letters.

    Certification grants adult foreign victims of human trafficking access to federal benefits and services to the same extent as refugees. Likewise, eligibility letters grant minor foreign victims of trafficking access to federal benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, including placement in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program. This program provides specialized, culturally appropriate foster care or other licensed care settings according to children’s individual needs. Trafficking victims who are U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) do not need certification or letters of eligibility to be eligible for similar benefits and services.
  • Services Grants
    ATIP funds comprehensive support services to victims of human trafficking through the National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program. These three grantees centralize services while maintaining a high level of care for victims of human trafficking. Case management assistance is available “anytime, anywhere” to assist trafficking victims to obtain certification/eligibility and to provide other short-term necessary services after certification, through networks of NGO sub-awardees throughout the country.

Working in concert with the HHS Rescue and Restore public awareness campaign, sub-awardees are reimbursed for each human trafficking victim served under their case management. This per capita system ensures efficient, high-quality services to victims of human trafficking. It also streamlines support services to help victims of human trafficking gain timely access to shelter, legal assistance, job training and health care, enabling them to establish lives free of violence and exploitation.

  • National Human Trafficking Resource Center
    The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline that works to protect victims of human trafficking in the U.S. by providing callers with a range of comprehensive services including:
    • Crisis intervention
    • Urgent and non-urgent referrals
    • Tip reporting
    • Comprehensive anti-trafficking resources
    • Technical assistance for the anti-trafficking field and those who wish to get involved

The NHTRC is able to connect community members with additional tools to raise awareness and combat human trafficking in their local areas, as well as guide service providers and law enforcement personnel in their work with potential trafficking victims.

To perform these functions, the NHTRC maintains a national database of organizations and individuals working in the anti-trafficking field, as well as a library of available anti-trafficking resources and materials.

The NHTRC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Contact (888)373-7888 or

For more information on ATIP Programs, see our research and resources.