December 15, 2000

President Signs "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000"

On October 28, 2000, the President signed H.R. 3244, the "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000," into law (Public Law 106-386).

  • The new law provides that noncitizens regardless of their immigration status who are victims of "severe forms of trafficking in persons in the United States" shall be eligible for Federal and State benefits and services, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI)-to the same extent that refugees are eligible for such benefits and services. The term "severe forms of trafficking in persons in the United States," is defined as:
    • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; and,
    • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
  • Specifically, SSI eligibility is provided to such victims of trafficking who are:
    • Under age 18; or,
    • Aged 18 and older who have been certified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Attorney General, as cooperating in every reasonable way in the investigation and prosecution of severe forms of trafficking, and who have made a bona fide application with the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a new "T" immigration visa.

Such eligible aged, blind, and disabled individuals would be treated for benefit purposes as refugees. That is, they could be eligible for SSI for the first 7 years that they are in the United States.

The provision is effective upon enactment.