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Joint Committee on Human Trafficking Holds First Hearing
AUSTIN — The Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking held its first hearing today to begin their work to combat human trafficking in Texas. Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, a member of the committee, issued the following statement following the hearing:
"Human trafficking is a serious problem, not only in Texas but throughout the United States. It robs individuals of their innocence and has devastating effects on their mental and physical well-being. We must do all we can to promote cooperation between agencies in order to better identify, protect and care for these victims, as well as prevent them from becoming victims all together."
In 2003, Texas was the first state in the nation to pass legislation criminalizing human trafficking. Last session, the Texas Legislature passed legislation that increased penalties for human trafficking, as well as increased victim services and provided resources to better combat human trafficking. They also continued the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, originally created in 2009, for two more years, to make recommendations to address human trafficking prior to the next legislative session.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) also today released the 2014 Texas Human Trafficking Assessment. The report's findings include horrific revelations, such as that the younger the child victim is, the more profitable they are to human traffickers. The report also states there are close ties between human trafficking and Mexican drug cartels, who facilitate, control or benefit from nearly all human smuggling activity along the border. In 2013 alone, Texas DPS officers rescued 39 child victims of human trafficking.
The Joint Committee will continue its work ahead of the next legislative session to begin next year.
SENATOR JANE NELSON represents District 12, including portions of Denton and Tarrant counties. She is chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the highest ranking Republican in the Texas Senate.