Putting a Stop to Human Trafficking and Helping Victims Rebuild their Lives
Human trafficking, the world’s modern-day slavery, is a very real problem. But it’s not just happening overseas. Women and children are being sold into sex slavery right here in our own backyard. I wish I could say these evil traffickers hadn’t made their way to Collin County, but unfortunately they have.
You may be surprised to know that human trafficking – a $32 billion a year industry – is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable transnational crime. Worse yet, children are the most vulnerable victims. Did you know it’s estimated that as many as 100,000-300,000 American children are at risk of being lured into sex trafficking each year? This is appalling!
What makes human trafficking so hard to combat is the fact that much of it is done over the internet. In fact, that’s where 76% of transactions for sex with underage girls take place.
Efforts to combat trafficking are complicated further because many victims are afraid or unable to come forward. When you consider the fact that the average age for girls entered into the commercial sex trade is 12-14 years and the average age for boys is 11-13 years, it’s easy to understand why. Traffickers frequently control their victims through both mental and physical abuse.
And just to put this into perspective, there are reportedly nearly 3,000 homeless children in Collin County – children who could easily fall prey to these evil criminals.
As a husband, father, and grandfather, the fact that women and children are being exploited sickens me.
We must not only root out human traffickers and stop all individuals who are exploiting our women and children – we must also do what we can to prevent those who are most vulnerable from falling prey to these criminals. Just as importantly, we must help victims of sex trafficking rebuild their lives.
Thankfully, stopping human trafficking is something that House Republicans have been working on.
In fact, earlier this year I proudly voted in support of 12 different bills that would help end domestic and international trafficking. These bills also take it a step further by actively working to protect and help the victims of trafficking:
1) H.R. 514 – Human Trafficking Prioritization Act
2) H.R. 515 – International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking
3) H.R. 357 – Human Trafficking Prevention Act
4) H.R. 468 – Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims for Youth Trafficking Act of 2015
5) H.R. 469 – Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015
6) H.R. 246 – To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking
7) H.R. 398 – Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015
8) H.R. 460 – Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015
9) H.R. 350 – Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015
10) H.R. 159 – Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act of 2015, as amended
11) H.R. 181 – Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, as amended
12) H.R. 285 – Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2015
Meanwhile, in the Senate our senior Senator, John Cornyn, has been trying to pass critical and bipartisan anti-trafficking legislation (S. 178, Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015). Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership has decided to play politics and block this bill. With precious lives in the balance, this is unfortunate and wrong. Just like the House came together to overwhelmingly pass anti-trafficking legislation, I hope that the Senate will be able to do so as well.
Efforts have also been made on the local front. In February, the Activism for Empowerment (AFE) Task Force was formed in Collin County by local officials, law enforcement, and agencies. It’s encouraging that this issue is finally being brought to light and that we are now working to eradicate human trafficking at both the local and national level.
You can rest assured I will continue to be a champion in this fight – the safety and protection of our women and children is of the utmost importance.