As the 84th Legislative Session has begun, the CLC staff wants to provide an overview of our public policy priorities. Last week, we talked about advocacy in general, and this week we explore human trafficking.
Many people assume the 13th amendment ended slavery in America, but there are still slaves among us. Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transporting or procurement of a person for labor or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude or commercial sex acts. Everyday men, women and children are forced into manual labor or commercial sexual acts against their will. This modern day slavery exists in the form of human trafficking.
Human trafficking does not require the victim to be transported across state lines or internationally, it simply requires the use of force or coercion to exploit a person for profit. The trafficking of these people is big business, in fact, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety it is the fastest growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.
Texas' large agricultural industries, myriad of interstate highways and border with Mexico make it especially vulnerable to trafficking. Last year, Texas ranked second among states with the most calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. The Interstate 10 corridor is considered one of the major routes for human traffickers.
Sex trafficking is not merely an international problem; it is estimated that about 293,000 American youth are currently at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
Studies have shown that many domestic victims of sex trafficking have histories of sexual abuse, families with substance abuse issues and homelessness.
While sex trafficking may get more attention, labor trafficking is also a widespread problem in America with more than 14 million people trapped in forced labor in agriculture, construction, domestic work and manufacturing industries, according to the International Labor Organization.
Victims of labor trafficking are often lured in by the promise of good-paying jobs, only to be forced to work 12-hour days for little or no wages under the threat of violence or deportation. Labor trafficking receives less attention, and it's precisely that surreptitious capability that has allowed it to flourish.
The Christian Life Commission is committed to working in collaboration with other organizations, law enforcement and elected officials to end human trafficking in Texas. Our public policy priorities are focused on improving victim services, expanding access to training for law enforcement officials and others that may come into contact with victims, and working to address demand for forced labor and prostitution. As those who are free, we have a responsibility to liberate those who are still slaves, whether they are spiritually or physically enslaved (Isaiah 61:1) .
If you are interested in learning more about our human trafficking advocacy, join us at the Capitol on February 12 for Human Trafficking Advocacy Day.
Here are some of the bills that have been filed so far on human trafficking:
HB 188 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson
- This bill would re-authorize the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force and add making recommendations to deal with the demand for forced labor and sexual conduct to their responsibilities. The task force has been critical to Texas' efforts to combat trafficking in the state by providing recommendations, developing trainings, and identifying gaps in resources.
HB 416 by Rep. Debbie Riddle
- This bill would require those working in abortion facilities to receive training in recognizing human trafficking victims. Victims of trafficking may be forced into abortions by their captors, and this bill would ensure staff at abortion facilities are equipped to assist these women.