McCaul Hosts Human Trafficking Events in TX-10
Last week, as the Lead Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chairman Emeritus on the House Homeland Security Committee, I hosted two human trafficking events in his TX-10 district. The events, in Austin and Houston, brought together local, state, and federal stakeholders, law enforcement, and healthcare professionals, to discuss steps in defeating human trafficking locally and the short-term and long-term treatment of survivors.
According to studies, human trafficking is a $150 billion world-wide industry and more than 300,000 Texans are entrapped in this modern-day form of slavery. Human trafficking is the 3rd largest revenue generating industry behind gun running and drugs.
This is not just an urban problem anymore, it’s a suburban problem and it’s getting worse. The average age for individuals who are trafficked is 14-17 years old and they are swept into this nightmare. Collaboration between members in our community and law enforcement is essential to ending this heinous crime.
During the roundtable in Austin, the collaborative model of the Houston based Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance was highlighted for their successful partnerships with local, state, and federal law enforcement and victim services providers. Austin Police Department also realizing the severity of this crime discussed how collaboration with local partners is essential to ending human trafficking.
“The Austin Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit depends on close collaboration with local service providers and survivor advocates. They are the essential link between survivors, and detectives and prosecutors,” said Austin Police Detective Douglas Novielli.
“The timely and sound investigation of a sex trafficking incident, using a victim centered approach, is paramount to its overall success,” said Austin Police Lieutenant Blake Johnson. “This to not only get the victim removed from the situation safely, but also to quickly and efficiently get them the help and advocacy needed for victims of such crimes. At the same time to be able identify and potentially arrest theses suspects, who will continue to offend, and hold them accountable through successful prosecution.”
Progress did not stop in Austin. At the Houston Area Human Trafficking Healthcare Consortium healthcare professionals and law enforcement gathered to discuss the road to recovery for survivors and closing the disconnects between their two organizations.
Various hospitals and clinics in attendance discussed best practices in identifying human trafficking victims coming through local hospitals and clinics and identified gaps and challenges in providing a continuum of care for the victims.
With any crisis, we need to acknowledge that it is happening in our backyard, we cannot idly sit by, we must take action. Events like these are a catalyst for change in our communities. I appreciate the stakeholders, law enforcement and healthcare professionals who participated and have been leaders in their communities.