McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Department of Homeland Security’s all-agency approach to combatting human trafficking helped earmark thousands of victims and create a more educated workforce in its first year, according to an agency report released Tuesday.

The 17-page DHS report, “Countering Human Trafficking: Year in Review” spans from October 2020 to September 2021 and highlights the inaugural first-year efforts by the Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) and 16 DHS departments to bring awareness and better support victims of human trafficking.

“The CCHT is a unique, first of its kind entity at DHS. It is here to augment, uplift, advance, coordinate, and improve the DHS counter-trafficking mission,” CCHT Director Cardell Morant wrote in the report. “We have built a solid foundation in this first year and plan to grow and mature in the next.”

Accomplishments touted in the report include:

  • Better screening forms and protocols provided for victims by DHS, along with the U.S. departments of Labor, and Health and Human Services.
  • The requirement that all U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the border complete special training to help identify children who are trafficked.
  • New protocols for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to better track and report suspected human trafficking cases.
  • A human trafficking point of contact established in every ICE ERO office.
  • The most ever requests for “Continued Presence,” which allow victims to remain in the United States and work and receive some federal benefits. A total of 247 requests and 57 extensions were made.
  • The granting of 829 special T visa grants, which allow migrants who are victims of a severe form of trafficking to remain in the United States for up to four years if they help authorities in the investigation of human traffickers.
  • The granting of 622 U visas, which allow migrants who are victims of certain crimes and have suffered mental or physical abuse to remain in the United States as they help law makers pursuing investigations of criminal activity.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met May 7, 2021, with CBP personnel in Donna, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

“We employ a victim-centered approach across our policies and programs, striving to support and protect victims,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the report.

“For victims who too often suffer in silence, we strive to help them recover their voice. For perpetrators who too seldom face the consequences for their actions, we seek to bring them to justice. Together, we are focused on our ultimate mission – to end human trafficking,” Mayorkas said.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at ssanchez@borderreport.com.