Washington – U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) recognizes that trafficking victims have
rights and require services and temporary immigration relief,
Gabriel Garcia, chief of ICE’s human smuggling and trafficking
unit, said March 20.
ICE, which is part of the Department of
Homeland Security, “has the unique organizational ability
to investigate trafficking in persons with a global reach
and provide short-term immigration relief to trafficking
victims,” Garcia said in testimony before the House Homeland
Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.
Of the approximately 600,000 to 800,000
people coerced or forced into crossing international borders
each year, about 14,500 to 17,500 end up in the United States,
according to U.S. government estimates.
ICE is one of several U.S. agencies working
to stop trafficking through training to help better identify
victims, improving services provided to victims and by public
Trafficking victims rescued in the United
States are granted “continued presence,” which is a short-term
immigration protection that allows certified victims of
trafficking to remain in the United States for up to one
year to enable them to apply for a “T visa.” Those who receive
T visas are able to stay in the United States and bring
their families over as well. They have access to federal
benefits and services and can accept employment in the United
States for up to three years and then apply for lawful permanent
residence, Garcia said.
ICE officials conduct their work worldwide.
Fifty-six ICE attaché offices help foster strong international
relationships, Garcia said. The attaches work with local
law enforcement for better coordination of investigations.
ICE officials target recruiters, brokers, document providers,
travel agencies, corrupt officials, smugglers and businesses
engaged in criminal activities at both source and transit
countries. ICE also cooperates with foreign law enforcement
authorities to target bank accounts, wire transfers and
other funding mechanisms that fuel trafficking enterprises,
These partnerships with foreign law enforcement
have led to the rescue of many victims. In one case, an
attaché in Moscow was told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
in Yekaterinburg, Russia, that a mother was concerned about
her daughter being held in a home in Florida. ICE agents
located the girl, who had been held against her will, beaten
and forced into prostitution. The ICE attaché in Moscow
asked a Russian anti-trafficking nongovernmental organization
to contact and counsel the victim. The trafficker was arrested
and pled guilty.
ICE officials “are engaged in an aggressive
outreach” campaign to educate local, state and federal law
enforcement and nongovernmental organizations on how to
identify human trafficking and what services are available
to trafficking victims, Garcia said. DVDs and brochures
about trafficking are given to law enforcement officers.
ICE trains its own staff regularly as well, by requiring
agents to complete a Web-based human trafficking course.
Garcia said ICE has hosted and participated
in training sessions overseas as well, and has developed
training programs that are used in Thailand, Hungary and
El Salvador. “We will continue to expand our outreach and
training efforts to share our expertise in employing the
victim-centered approach as we continue to build coalitions.”
In fiscal years 2005 and 2006, ICE initiated
647 investigations into human trafficking organizations
that resulted in 370 arrests and 193 criminal convictions,
according to a February ICE fact sheet.
texts of prepared testimony presented at the hearing
are available on the Web site of the Committee on Homeland
For more information, see Human
Smuggling and Trafficking.
USINFO Special Correspondent