AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Aug. 20 landmark legislation against human trafficking, a bill the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission helped navigate the lawmaking process.
The bill makes Texas the first state in the nation to provide assistance to domestic human trafficking victims, which account for 74 percent of the sex trade market. According to the U.S. State Department, nearly 20 percent of the nation’s human trafficking victims come through Texas, and Houston and El Paso recently were named major human trafficking hubs.
“Most people think human trafficking happens elsewhere in places like Thailand and Cambodia, but the reality is that it is happening in our own backyard,” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, who authored the legislation that also was sponsored by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. “In fact, the vast majority of the victims identified within Texas are actually our own citizens.”
The bill establishes a statewide Human Trafficking Prevention Taskforce in the attorney general’s office, creates a human trafficking training component for law enforcement officers, starts a program to connect services to human trafficking victims and begins a grant from groups that provide assistance to domestic human trafficking victims.
“The taskforce created by this bill will focus state efforts on ending this criminal activity that primarily targets women and children,” Perry said. “Human trafficking is a serious problem, and this legislation sends a message to those who would profit from exploiting others in this fashion – Texas won’t stand for it.”
The CLC was one of a number of community and faith-based groups who backed the legislation. Human trafficking was one of the issues that was highlighted and discussed during the CLC Annual Conference this year.
“The bill signing today is sends an important message: ‘human beings are not for sale in Texas,’” said CLC Director Suzii Paynter. “Passage of this legislation is the result of the cooperative efforts of advocates, agencies and bipartisan leaders to improve prevention and prosecution of modern day slavery.
“We applaud the efforts of Attorney General Greg Abbott and his staff, who have provided a blueprint for action. The Christian Life Commission has worked to bring awareness and cooperation for this issue through legislative work and congregational education, including a presentation at the CLC Conference by Sen. Van De Putte, a major author of human trafficking legislation. Sadly, the job is not done. The taskforce created by this legislation will continue taking steps to end human trafficking in Texas.”
Want to do something about human trafficking? The CLC and BGCT Community Care Ministry also provide ministry opportunities to do something to combat human trafficking. You can purchase Good News Goods at http://www.goodnewsgoods.com/ to support missional businesses helping victims. You can contact Tomi Grover at firstname.lastname@example.org for victim assistance ministry in Texas.