If I think I am a victim of severe human trafficking, how do I contact law enforcement for help?
To get T visa status, you must be willing to help law enforcement, unless you are under 21 years old or you get a trauma exception. Often times you may come into contact with law enforcement while you are still being victimized, in the course of the trafficking. For instance:
- law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) may raid your workplace;
- law enforcement may arrest you for prostitution or some other crime the trafficker forces you to participate in; or
- a state or federal agency may send officers to investigate workplace violations or other issues in the workplace.
If you have come into contact with law enforcement in any of these ways, you could find a way to safely report your situation to them. Even if the agency you report it to can’t investigate, they should know which law enforcement agency can help you and should report your situation to them.
You do not have to wait for law enforcement to find you, however. If you can safely do so, you may report your situation to law enforcement or find someone in a safer situation to do it for you. You can report trafficking to:
- local police (usually by calling 911);
- a local FBI field office; or
- a U.S. Attorney’s Office.
There are other ways to report your situation too. The following agencies will help you figure out what can you do in your situation and refer you to law enforcement in as safe a way as possible:
- the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice at 1-888-428-7581; and
- the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or via text message to 233733, which corresponds with the letters BeFree on your phone.
Be aware that contacting law enforcement on your own may be risky. Some law enforcement agencies may get Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) involved. If that happens, you should ask to speak to an ICE Homeland Security Investigator specializing in human trafficking.
Since ICE’s main job is to identify, detain, and deport people who are not in the U.S. legally, you may end up detained or deported. Therefore, the safest way to report your situation is through an immigration lawyer who does human trafficking work. Use our Finding a Lawyer page to find a lawyer in your state. You can also ask one of the national immigration organization on our National Organizations - Immigration page to help find you a lawyer.
It is also important to know that a significant number of trafficking victims may report their situation to law enforcement but law enforcement may decide not to investigate their case for a variety of reasons. For example, law enforcement may believe that their resources are better spent on large trafficking rings rather than one individual’s case; or they may think other victims will be better witnesses in their case, etc. The fact that they don’t want or need your help doesn’t mean you aren’t a real victim of trafficking or that you shouldn’t get T visa status.
How do I prove that I contacted law enforcement?
Ask the law enforcement agency you contact to give you (or your lawyer) a “law enforcement agency (LEA) endorsement,” which is also known as a “declaration of law enforcement officer for victim of trafficking in persons,” on Form I-914 Supplement B. This is a statement from law enforcement saying that you have cooperated with their requests in investigating or prosecuting the case.
Getting the LEA endorsement can be very helpful to strengthen your T visa application. However, having an LEA endorsement does not guarantee that you will get T visa status. It’s possible that you can get T visa status if you show you tried to be helpful but still couldn’t get an endorsement from law enforcement.1
For more information on all four requirements that you will have to prove, go to What must I prove to be eligible for T visa status?
1 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(f)