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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2015-01-26

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    JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Monday, January 26, 2015 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support H.R. 469, the ``Strengthening Our Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015,'' which strengthens the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Pub. L. 93-247) by requiring that state plans for federal grants for child abuse or neglect prevention and treatment programs include elements focused on human trafficking.



    Trafficking in humans is a major problem across the globe and in our own country. As lawmakers, we have a moral responsibility to combat this scourge and protect our children, especially those without parents to care for them, from being exploited and falling through the cracks.

    As the Founder and Chair of the Congressional Children's Caucus, I understand how important it is to defend those who are too young to defend themselves.

    This problem is personal for me because according to the U.S. Department of Justice, my home city of Houston, Texas is the epicenter of human trafficking in the United States with over 200 active brothels in Houston and two new ones opening each month.

    Houston has also surpassed Las Vegas for the dubious distinction of having the most strip clubs and illicit spas serving as fronts for sex trafficking.

    Human trafficking in Texas is not limited to Houston. During the 2011 Dallas Super Bowl, 133 underage arrests for prostitution were made and during this year's massive effort ``Operation Cross Country'' led by the FBI, several pimps were arrested.

    Between 1998 and 2003 more than 500 people from 18 countries were ensnared in 57 forced labor operations in almost a dozen cities throughout the State of Texas.

    Currently, our state child welfare systems do not properly identify and help the children that have been taken by this horrible industry.

    Even more disturbing is that the protections provided by our child welfare systems often do not extend to young victims of trafficking.

    Hard as it is to believe, in some states trafficked youths are not even regarded or classified as victims.

    Houston is a popular trafficking hub in part because the city is so diverse, with large Hispanic, Asian and Middle Eastern populations, which allows traffickers and their victims to blend into local communities.

    A recent report estimated that 25% of all trafficking victims in the U.S. end up in Texas.

    Rather, they are treated as youthful offenders and consigned to the criminal justice system.

    The city is so diverse, the traffickers and victims easily blend into the community.

    The TIP Report also contains tier rankings of each country on which it reports, which are used to help protect victims, prevent trafficking and prosecute traffickers.

    According to a report published in the Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights, Mexican authorities are working to address the problem of trans-border human trafficking, but the country's ``legal framework remains largely untouched and hence limited in its crime-fighting scope and effectiveness.'' According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Houston, Texas is one of the nation's largest hubs for human trafficking, with over 200 active brothels in Houston and two new ones opening each month.

    Human trafficking in Texas is not limited to Houston. During the 2011 Dallas Super Bowl, 133 underage arrests for prostitution were made and during this year's massive effort ``Operation Cross Country'' led by the FBI, several pimps were arrested.

    In general The Center shall carry out the following activities: 1. Receive information on travel by child-sex offenders.

    2. Establish a system to maintain and archive all relevant information, including the response of destination countries to notifications under subsection where available, and decisions not to transmit notification abroad.

    3. Establish an annual review process to ensure that the Center is consistent in procedures to provide notification to destination countries or not to provide notification to destination countries, as appropriate.

    Mr. Speaker, one of the most important things that can and must continue to be done is to raise public awareness of the continuing prevalence of modern day slavery and human trafficking.

    Such identification requires cooperative efforts between the United States and foreign governments. In exchange for providing notice of child-sex offenders traveling to the United States, foreign authorities will expect United States authorities to provide reciprocal notice of child-sex offenders traveling to their countries.

    Raising the visibility and status of the governmental entity charged with the responsibility of documenting the problems, successes, and remaining challenges confronting the United States and the international community in eradicating the scourge of human trafficking is a positive step forward in achieving this goal.

    I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting passage of H.R. 469.

    ____________________

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