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  1. #1
    Senior Member American-ized's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Monroe County, New York

    TX-Texas adopts new tools to thwart human smugglers

    Texas adopts new tools to thwart human smugglers

    August 05, 2009 9:20 PM
    The Brownsville Herald

    Human traffickers beware: The state of Texas has given law enforcement agencies and children advocacy groups more tools to come after you.

    That was the message given Wednesday morning at City Hall during a meeting hosted by Children at Risk, a Houston-based children advocacy group focused on bringing an end to human trafficking.

    "Texas has become the hub of human trafficking; Brownsville has become a gateway for human traffickers taking their victims to large cities like Houston and Dallas," said Bob Sanborn, the president of Children at Risk.

    "Now the Valley is the frontline in the fight against human traffickers."

    Human trafficking is very different from undocumented immigrants who enter the country seeking a better life, Sanborn said.

    "In human trafficking, these people who are looking for a better life, are forced into slave labor or into sex trafficking," he said. "The majority of those forced into sex trafficking are young girls ages 12, 13, 14."

    Immigrants primarily from Central and South America, and some from Mexico, are lured with empty promises into seeking a better life in America.

    They often enter the country through the Rio Grande Valley, making their way to the Houston and Dallas area where they are beaten, raped, drugged and forced into modern-day slavery, Sanborn said.

    "Each year between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the United States," he said. "The majority of those victims are women and children."

    While the majority of victims only pass through the area, the Rio Grande Valley does have its share of human trafficking cases, said Erica Schommer, spokeswoman for Texas RioGrande

    "Here we don’t see large organized operations like the ones in larger cities," Schommer said. "The majority of cases here deal with nannies and maids who stay at their employers’ homes and are forced into slave labor."

    Children at Risk has worked closely with state legislators to help put a stop to the practice.

    During the 81st legislative session, the group lobbied for a number of successful bills that will help, Sanborn said.

    The legislation included:

    HB533 created civil liability for human traffickers by providing victims with an avenue to sue traffickers.

    HB4009 established a victim assistance program, a statewide human trafficking task force and mandated training for law enforcement agencies to help identify victims.

    SB 707 requires sexually-oriented businesses to maintain proper identification records for employees or independent contractors.

    HB960 gives municipalities and counties the right to access the National Crime Information Center, to obtain criminal information on people applying for licenses to operate sexually oriented businesses.

    HB 3094 created civil liability for operating an illegitimate "massage parlor" in a county with a population of 3.3 million or more. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a fine of $1,000 per violation.
    Children at Risk is working closely with law enforcement agencies throughout the nation and asks the public to report any suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (88 3737-888.

    In 2007, 30 percent of all the calls received on the hotline came from Texas, said a Children at Risk press release.

    At the meeting in Brownsville, Roy Rivera, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement assistant special agent in charge for Brownsville, said his agency will continue to investigate and fight all forms of human trafficking.

    "Children are not property; they should grow up as children playing, going to school and having a family that loves them," said Mayor Pat M. Ahumada, who was at the meeting. "They are not a commodity. I would like all of South Texas to become leaders in the fight against human trafficking." ... ldren.html

  2. #2
    Senior Member vmonkey56's Avatar
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