Background

Congressional appropriators are being asked to give U.S. Customs and Border Protection additional funding for its forced labor enforcement activities. The request comes amid intensifying international scrutiny of the use of forced labor and highlights the importance of companies conducting related reviews of their global supply chains.

In an April 29 letter, 18 Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee asserted that CBP’s Forced Labor Division has been “drastically underfunded … despite continued and growing evidence of the use of forced labor and child labor in the supply chains of products imported into the United States from around the world.” As a result, they asked Appropriations Committee leaders to fund CBP’s Office of Trade at $339.4 million in fiscal year 2022, $50 million above the FY 2021 enacted level.

The lawmakers also urged the committee to direct CBP to allocate $25 million of this increase specifically for forced labor remediation and enforcement activities. These include improvements in technology designed to “position CBP at the cutting edge of new product tracing techniques,” such as the Advanced Trade Analytics Platform (which seeks to provide a single view of all CBP trade-related data to enhance predictive and prescriptive analytics), the Workforce Staffing Model program, and the Origin Tracing Isotope Ratio Capability and Technology program.

In addition, the letter recommended that the committee direct U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to appropriate sufficient funding to its Forced Labor Program under Homeland Security Investigations, which is responsible for investigating criminal violations related to imports of goods made with forced labor. According to the letter, a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the HIS program consists of only “one full-time staff member who works exclusively on forced labor issues at HSI headquarters.”

This letter suggests that CBP efforts to enforce the ban on imports of goods made with forced labor will continue to increase. Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg offers a comprehensive suite of services to help companies respond to these efforts, including supply chain reviews, due diligence strategies, and proactive remediation. In addition, ST&R has launched a new web page offering a broad range of information on forced labor-related efforts in the U.S. and around the world.

For more information on any of these initiatives, please contact Amanda Levitt (at (212) 549-0148) or via email), David Olave (at (202) 730-4960 or via email), or Nicole Bivens Collinson (at (202) 730-4956 or via email).

Copyright © 2021 Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.; WorldTrade Interactive, Inc. All rights reserved.

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