Raising Human Trafficking Awareness Everywhere Except at DHS and HHS, Where It's Sorely Needed

By Dan Cadman on January 29, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced its "Blue Campaign", an effort to make the general public and, more importantly, individuals in key positions aware of human trafficking — first responders, law enforcement, educators, even federal acquisition officers (for reasons they explain on their website).

This is a "close the barn door after the horses have left" exercise in embarrassment mitigation. The Washington Post recently ran a story detailing a sordid tale of peonage and human trafficking in unaccompanied alien minors about which my colleague, David North, recently blogged.

Neither DHS nor Health and Human Services (HHS), most especially its Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) arm, comes out looking very good since these minors were given to traffickers due to the administration's insane practice of handing over such minors based on the most minimal of information and security measures even in the best of times. This minimal practice was pretty much abandoned in the administration's drive to eliminate the border surge from the front pages by dispersing them as quickly as possible throughout the country to ORR "resettlement" contractors, who then push them out the door and onward to "relatives", who in this case proved to be the ones responsible for putting the minors to forced labor on behalf of an agribusiness.

Note, however, that none of the primary offenders in this shove-them-along saga appear to be recipients of the "Blue Campaign" training: no mention of HHS or ORR or its contractors being given human trafficking training, which it would appear that they sorely need.

If you read the Post article carefully, you will also note that the abuse was finally stopped after raids by the FBI — not DHS Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, who are a part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As has been discussed before in prior postings by myself and Jessica Vaughan, HSI has pretty much abandoned the "immigration" part of its mission. It conducts a minimal amount of anti-smuggling/human trafficking work these days; audits of, and enforcement actions against, employers who hire or abuse illegal alien workers are near nonexistent; and little or no attempt is made at compliance programs directed toward the huge number of visa overstays or, more troubling from a national security perspective, foreign students.

All of this appears to be because HSI is made up primarily of ex-Customs agents, many of whom would rather hack off a foot with a rusty saw than soil their hands with immigration work. Many former colleagues have been forthright in telling me that HSI supervisors work mightily to weed out ex-INS agents from their ranks and force them over to ICE's other division, Enforcement and Removals Operations.

The Post cites Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as having demanded the facts of the trafficking case from DHS and HHS, as well as further details about the methods used to hand "border surge" minors over to putative relatives. Perhaps he needs to delve further into what has happened at ICE, which has been allowed to internally recreate segregated and stove-piped mini customs and immigration enforcement organizations in its midst with little or no oversight.

Finally, let me note that it isn't just the misfeasance of "missing in action" HSI agents that is troubling, on top of the obvious outrage of how HHS/ORR and their contractors mishandled matters relating to release of aliens to criminals (for which perhaps the state needs to selectively charge officials and/or contractors with child abuse). The DHS Office of Inspector General recently released a rather astounding report detailing the many ways in which another subordinate organization, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has so badly fumbled its role in adjudicating requests for work and fiancé visas that it inadvertently facilitated alien smuggling and trafficking crimes instead. Yet we see no mention of training designated for USCIS employees in the "Blue Campaign" either.