Refugees and Human Trafficking Victims

Federally-Funded Assistance to Refugees and Human Trafficking Victims

OCS operates three programs for refugees that are also open to international victims of human trafficking.   They are (1) the Employment Core Services – Refugees, (2) the Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance Program, and (3) a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, to provide support services to domestic and foreign victims of human labor and sex trafficking in the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii.


OCS administers the first two of these programs under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).  OCS administers the third program through the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) in the U.S. Department of Justice. All three programs utilize federal funds and do not require any financial assistance or matching funds from the State.

The Employment Core Services – Refugees

OCS contracts annually with a non-profit organization to provide services under the Employment Core Services (ECS) program. While ECS serves low-income and immigrant populations as well, $75,000 is set aside for refugees. The main goal of ECS is to provide job training and placement, but also assists with English language instruction services and basic family support and social adjustment services. These services are crucial in assisting refugees become self-sufficient, contributing members of Hawaii’s community.

Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance Programs

The Cash and Medical Assistance (CMA) program is made up of two separate parts, Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance. At this time, Hawaii only provides Refugee Cash Assistance. This program is administered by the Hawaii State Department of Human Services (DHS) under a memorandum of agreement.   DHS determines eligibility of individual refugees for financial assistance. The cash assistance is limited to $300 per month for an 8 month period, however, the actual amount is determined by DHS based upon the individual’s needs.

Victims of Human Trafficking

Under the Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) evaluates whether individual adults may be certified as victims of severe forms of trafficking.  Individuals who are certified may be eligible for benefits and services under the Employment Core Services – Refugees and the Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance Program to the same extent as refugees.  ORR reviews whether the individual has been subjected to a severe form of trafficking, which means:

  • 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; or
  • Labor trafficking: 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.
  • Child victims of trafficking (under the age of 18) do not need to be certified in order to receive services and benefits. ORR will issue a letter stating that a child is a victim of a severe form of trafficking and is therefore eligible for benefits.

Any person who may be eligible for such benefits and services should immediately contact the OCS-contracted service provider or volunteer agencies that perform services under this program.  Certain benefits are available to refugees only if they apply soon after their arrival in the United States.

Program for Human Labor and Sex-Trafficking Victims

The Department of Justice program for Human Labor and Sex-Trafficking Victims operates only in the City and County of Honolulu at present.  The limitation on the amount of funding prevents OCS from effectively expanding the program to the Neighbor Islands at this time.

The purpose of the program is to provide timely and high-quality comprehensive services to victims of human trafficking as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 and to enhance interagency coordination in the provision of services to trafficking victims over a two year period.   The goal is to ensure provision of trauma-informed, culturally competent services to male and female victims of sex and labor trafficking identified or living in the City and County of Honolulu.

The program is being administered by three participating service agencies under the overall guidance of OCS, pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).  Those agencies are the Susanna Wesley Community Center (SWCC), the Pacific Survivor Center (PSC), and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (Legal Aid).

SWCC is the lead agency in the program.  It has hired and supervises the program coordinator and case management staff to provide direct victim assistance and coordination of services. SWCC staff works with local law enforcement to identify potential victims, to provide eligibility assessments for the victims so that they may obtain services.  SWCC assists victims in obtaining the “certification” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  SWCC identifies resources appropriate for potential application by clients.  SWCCC arranges and coordinates appropriate sheltering of the victim, including  but not limited to, rental assistance, and develop a transition plan to ameliorate the victim’s specific challenges, including immigration and documentation issues.

PSC provides physical, mental health, and dental examination and treatment of the client population.  PSC shall provide, as necessary, individualized and group counseling to assist adult victims with trauma, cultural adjustment and other issues

In addition, under this program PSC will devise, develop, and present training for medical professionals or other interested parties to increase awareness of human trafficking issues, including specific health and mental needs of victims, and coordinate these trainings with SWCC and Legal Aid.

Legal Aid screens and assesses victims to ensure that they meet the definition of human trafficking as described by the TVPA.  Legal Aid provides legal assistance to these victims, including but not limited to, explanation of client rights and responsibilities, litigation and witness assistance in criminal prosecutions if needed, and family and civil matters.  Specifically, these services include, but are not limited to assistance with applying for T visas, immigration relief, adjustment of status, and general advocacy on matters resulting from the client’s situation as a human trafficking victim.

Legal Aid is also responsible for developing and presenting training to providers of trafficking services or other interested parties such as law enforcement to increase awareness of legal barriers, orient trainees to the experiences of victims in the justice system, and offering perspective and best practices with regard to issues of sensitivity in service.

Other Services for Refugees and Trafficking Victims Outside OCS Programs:

The Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement has directed OCS to facilitate overall communication and coordination of services provided by local agencies to refugees and human trafficking victims in the State of Hawaii.  OCS promotes communications among local agencies that provide services to refugees and trafficking victims by convening periodic round-table meetings and by participating in meetings convened by these organizations, even though they do not receive funding by OCS at present.   These organizations include:

•  Catholic Charities Hawaii, which provides interpretation (oral) and translation (written) language services, refugee resettlement, citizenship assistance and classes, and English language classes to immigrants and refugees.  Catholic Charities Hawaii also provides services for refugees who already have ties to persons in Hawaii, through part of a grant made by ORR to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

(808) 521-HELP (4357)

1822 Ke‘eaumoku Street

Honolulu, HI 96822

•   Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center, which provides legal services and representation to immigrants for cases involving domestic violence and sexual assault, human trafficking, asylum, crime victims, family unification/reunification, child protection advocacy, citizenship, deportation defense and case management services for foreign victims of human trafficking.

Oahu (808) 536-8826

Neighbor islands 1-877-208-8828

•  Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, which provides mentorship services and advocacy for survivors of human trafficking, education and training on the identification of victims of human-trafficking, and public awareness and prevention education for the greater community.

(808) 343-5056

•  Pacific Gateway Center, which provides interpretation (oral) and translation (written) language services, case management, counseling, basic computer skills, job preparation, training and placement, technical assistance and micro lending, and affordable housing to immigrants, refugees and foreign victims of human trafficking.  •  Pacific Gateway Center also provides services for refugees and foreign victims of trafficking under two grants that it has received directly from ORR.

(808) 851-7010

83 North King Street

Honolulu, HI 96817

•  Pacific Survivor Center, which provides medical and psychological intervention, referral to social services for the survivors of human trafficking and torture, and advocacy and training for the community.

(808) 343-5451

•  Susannah Wesley Community Center, which provides case management, counseling, crisis intervention and interpretation and translation services to immigrants and victims of human trafficking.

(808) 847-1535

1117 Kaili Street

Honolulu, HI 96819

Resources for Further Information


Employment Core Services

•  Parents and Children Together (PACT) – West Hawaii

•  Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) – Maui

•  Goodwill Industries of Hawaii – Statewide programs


Refugee Resettlement and Assistance to Immigrants 


•  Hawaii Refugee Resettlement State Plan for 2011

•  Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement

•  Child and Family Services – service provider under contract with OCS for employment and support services for refugees and human trafficking victims.

•   Catholic Charities Hawaii –provider of services for refugee resettlement – limited to refugees who already have ties in Hawaii.  These services are provided as part of a Federal grant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

•  Pacific Gateway Center –provider of services for refugees and trafficking victims under grants made directly by the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

•  Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, Inc. – service provider under contract with OCS for employment services for low income persons, including immigrants.

•  Hawaii Primary Care Association – the association of the 14 federally qualified health clinics (FQHCs) that provide medical screening services and primary medical care for refugees, immigrants and low income persons


USCIS E-Verify Employee Hotline 1-888-897-7781 helps employees to:

Gain general information about the E-Verify program and procedures

Understand how to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, with acceptable documentation

Understand the E-Verify process and how it affects them

Learn about employee rights

Report employer misuse of the E-Verify system

File complaints regarding possible violations of verification policy and privacy laws

Contest a Tentative Non-Confirmation of Eligibility

Fix a perceived error in a Final Non-Confirmation of Eligibility


Relevant Laws and Regulations


•  8 US Code §1522 – Resettlement assistance for refugees

•  45 CFR Part 400 – Office of Refugee Resettlement

•  Hawaii Administrative Rules §17-661 – state financial assistance to refugees

•  Hawaii Administrative Rules §17-1723 – medical assistance to refugees

•  US Citizenship and Immigration Services –

Form I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification and instructions

Form I-9 instructions in • Chuukese, • Pohnpeian, • Kosraean,

• Marshallese


Human Trafficking

•  National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-373-7888

•  Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), Public Law 106-386, 22 USC §§7101 et seq.

•  Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, Public Law 108-193

•  Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2007, Public Law 109-164

•  William Wilburforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, Public Law 110-457

•  US CIS memorandum on policies and procedures under the Reauthorization Act of 2008

• Trafficking Victims Protection – regulations – 8 CFR §214.11

•  US Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services

Form I-914 – Application for T Nonimmigrant Status Visa.