Industry News

DHS Gets a Budget Boost for Combating Forced Labor

Mar. 22, 2023
By: Hannah B. Kreinik

We have been reporting for months that the government is upping its enforcement against articles produced with forced labor (see, for example, our article here). However, recent reports indicate that the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is receiving a budget increase of almost $20 million to support its fight against goods produced with forced labor. This brings the total annual budget for forced labor enforcement to $114.5 million.

Since the enactment of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in 2021 (see our article on the act here), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), housed under DHS, has ramped up efforts to ensure industry supply chains are clear of forced labor. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA”) includes a rebuttable presumption that all goods from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region are produced with forced labor. The rebuttable presumption may be overcome if the importer can show through clear and convincing evidence that their supply chains are free of forced labor.

This budgetary expansion is close to double the amount that CBP’s Office of Trade expected from the White House’s budget plans. In addition to forced labor concerns, the budget increase is meant to supply CBP with more officers in response to the fentanyl epidemic. This means that importers should be prepared for additional enforcement action related to combating forced labor and illicit drugs. Importers should be tracing their supply chains for forced labor issues and collecting documentation to support that their production lines are free of forced labor. DHS now has additional budget to ensure compliance with UFLPA and for CBP to take action to enforce the act more frequently. Also, don’t import fentanyl (hopefully you didn’t need us to tell you that).

If you want to do a thorough tracing of your supply chains, please reach out to the attorneys at Barnes, Richardson & Colburn today.