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State Letter #10-05

Requesting Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking

Published: March 19, 2010
Audience:
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Program
Topics:
Human Trafficking
Types:
State Letter
Tags:
children

TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
ANTI-TRAFFICKING COALITIONS AND TASK FORCES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM: Eskinder Negash
Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Requesting Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking

This State Letter describes the process by which an individual may request eligibility for federally funded assistance for an alien child who may have been subjected to human trafficking. It supplements and modifies instructions and ORR staff contact information provided in State Letters 01-13 and 02-01.

Background

Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), as amended, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with determining whether an alien child (under the age of 18) in the United States is eligible for the benefits and services made available under the TVPA to victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons. An “Eligibility Letter” from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) enables a child victim of human trafficking to receive federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee.

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA of 2008), signed into law on December 23, 2008, directs the Secretary of HHS, upon receipt of credible information that a child who is seeking assistance may have been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons, to promptly determine if the child is eligible for interim assistance for up to 90 days. During the interim eligibility period, initiated by ORR’s issuance of an “Interim Assistance Letter,” ORR will consult with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and nongovernmental organizations with expertise in victims of trafficking to determine the child’s eligibility for assistance as a victim of trafficking. An “Interim Assistance Letter” from ORR will make a child eligible to receive federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee for a 90-day period.

Request for Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking

An individual may request, on behalf of a child, eligibility for federally funded benefits and services from ORR when the individual has credible information the child may have been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons.

The information provided through the submission of a “Request for Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking” form, which is attached to this State Letter, enables ORR to make determinations regarding the eligibility of these children for the same benefits and services available to refugees, and to assess and address potential child protection issues. ORR may provide an Interim Assistance Letter if ORR receives credible information that a child may have been subjected to trafficking. For cases in which ORR has issued an Interim Assistance Letter, ORR will consult with DOJ, DHS, and nongovernmental organizations with expertise in victims of trafficking prior to making a determination of the child’s eligibility as a victim of trafficking. A child is not required to cooperate with law enforcement as a condition for receiving a letter of eligibility.

Requests for Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking should be sent by e-mail to ChildTrafficking@acf.hhs.gov or by fax to (202) 401-5487. An ORR Child Protection Specialist will respond to the requestor upon receipt and review of the request. Individuals wishing to speak to an ORR Child Protection Specialist about a child who may be a victim of trafficking eligible for assistance should call (202) 205-4582.

Eligibility for Interim and Long-Term Assistance

Upon making a determination that a child is eligible for interim assistance, ORR will issue the child an Interim Assistance Letter, and, within 24 hours, will notify DOJ and DHS of this determination. Before the end of the 90-day period, and after consultation with DOJ, DHS, and nongovernmental organizations with expertise on victims of trafficking, ORR will make a determination as to whether the child is eligible for benefits and services as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons. ORR will make this determination as quickly as possible after issuing an Interim Assistance Letter and will issue an Eligibility Letter to a child determined by ORR to be a victim of trafficking. A child is not required to cooperate with law enforcement to receive an Interim Assistance Letter or an Eligibility Letter.

If ORR has not issued an interim assistance letter within 10 business days after receipt of the request for assistance, ORR will notify the requestor about the status of the request.

Denial of Eligibility for Assistance

HHS may issue a decision to deny eligibility either 1) after review of the initial request for assistance or 2) after a child has been made eligible for interim assistance.

If within 30 calendar days of receipt of the request for assistance ORR has not received credible information that a child may have been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons, ORR will issue a letter to the child, in care of the requestor, denying eligibility for interim assistance. If ORR issues a child an Interim Assistance Letter but, before the end of the interim assistance period, ORR has not received information, taken as a whole, indicating that a child has been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons, ORR will issue a letter to the child, in care of the requestor, denying eligibility for benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee beyond the interim assistance period, and the child’s eligibility for interim assistance will expire at that time. ORR will provide to the requestor the reasoning behind its decision and the information it used in making its determination. Should additional information become available for ORR’s consideration, the requestor should submit a new “Request for Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking” form to ORR.

In the event ORR denies eligibility, the requestor will have 30 business days from the date of receipt of the denial to submit a request for reconsideration. The request for reconsideration should be sent to: Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, 370 L’Enfant Promenade, 6th Floor, Washington, DC, 20447, ATTENTION: Child Trafficking Eligibility Reconsideration. The ACF Assistant Secretary will send his/her decision on the reconsideration to the requestor within 15 business days from the date of the receipt of the reconsideration request. This will be considered a final administrative decision. Please see the attached “Process for Reconsideration of a Denial” for more information.

Notification to HHS to Facilitate Provision of Interim Assistance

The TVPRA of 2008 provides that “Not later than 24 hours after a Federal, State, or local official discovers that a person who is under 18 years of age may be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, the official shall notify HHS to facilitate the provision of interim assistance” (TVPA, Section 107(b)(1)(G), or 22 U.S.C. 7105 (b)(1)(G)). Federal, State, or local officials should notify ORR Child Protection Specialists at ChildTrafficking@acf.hhs.gov or call (202) 205-4582 when they are made aware of an alien child who may be a victim of trafficking. To the extent possible, officials should provide the child’s name, age, location, and country of origin, as well as the location of the exploitation, the suspected form of trafficking, and the official’s contact information or other preferred point of contact. An ORR Child Protection Specialist will respond to each notification during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, and follow up with the reporting official, as appropriate. Follow-up will involve facilitating interim and long-term eligibility, where applicable, and providing technical assistance as needed.

ATTACHMENTS:

  • Interim Assistance Letter - sample (PDF 13KB)
  • Eligibility Letter - sample (PDF 13KB)
  • Request for Assistance for Child Victims of Human Trafficking - template (PDF 647KB)
  • “Process for Reconsideration of a Denial of Eligibility” (PDF 11KB)
     

QUESTIONS: If you have questions about any of the information in this State Letter, please contact Maggie Wynne, Director of the ORR Division for Anti-Trafficking in Persons, at Maggie.Wynne@acf.hhs.gov.