On May 15, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order establishing the “Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force” required by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) implementing bill. Section 741 of the USMCA Implementation Act requires the Department of Homeland Security the Task Force as the central hub for the U.S. government’s enforcement of the prohibition on imports made through forced labor. After missing the original April 28 deadline for the Task Force creation as outlined in the USMCA implementing bill, members of the House Ways & Means Committee wrote a letter to the administration to comply with the original commitments.
The Mandate of the Task Force is to improve coordination among U.S. agencies to prohibit forced labor imports and ensure the continuation of forced labor prohibition under U.S. law. The Task Force will be chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security and will include representatives from the Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. According to the Executive Order, the Task Force will endeavor to make all decisions under consensus but shall decide matters by a majority vote in the case of disagreement.
The Task Force will eventually establish the procedures and timelines for petitions submitted to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding forced labor allegations. In addition, the Task Force will submit biannual reports to Congress summarizing governmental efforts to prohibit the importation of goods produced via forced labor. According to comments made by the Chairman of the House Ways & Means committee, the Task Force will be necessary to combat pressing forced labor problems currently facing the U.S. such as imports from the agricultural sector in Mexico and various industrial sectors in China.