Statewide human trafficking panel aims for change

Statewide human trafficking panel aims for change

He sits back with his arms crossed, one leg slung over the other and talks with ease. His Texas drawl does not waver despite the brevity of the subject. He speaks of how he got involved and what he’s doing now as if he’s discussing the weather.
Then, without warning, he leans forward and places his hands on the table to drive his point home.
“We need to make sure the penalties work.”
Texas State Representative Todd Hunter is leading a statewide panel to write new laws that address the growing human trafficking situation in the state.
Hunter says it’s not enough to say prostitution and slavery are illegal.
“We want to write the laws to address human trafficking specifically,” said Hunter “You have to be careful with the laws you write because you don’t want to glorify the bad act.”
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of children and adults for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.
In Hunter’s early congressional days, he was placed on the Judiciary and Civil Prudence Committee, which dealt with human trafficking.
“I had people from Dallas, Houston and the Valley, all of these groups who were bringing this issue in. It was real and it was in our backyard.”
Texas is home to several metropolitan areas that are drop off points, including those that surround I-10.
A majority of the cells that traffic humans reside in Houston and San Antonio but the problem runs rampant all over the state.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 25 percent of human trafficking victims in the United States are in Texas.
“Texas is taking the lead on this. We’re working with federal and state authorities,” said Hunter.
Many of the missing children that appear on milk cartons are brought into the sex slave trade. Runaways also account for a large amount of the victims.
According to ICE Operation Predator, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys in the United States are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood.
“It bothered me that slavery and prostitution of boys and girls exist. It’s awful,” said Hunter.
On March 29, Hunter will lead a human trafficking summit at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi to come up with ways to resolve this issue. The conference is free to the public.
“We need to raise awareness and make sure folks know what is going on.”

Lead Reporter

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