Texas Lawmakers, Advocates Seek Solution to Human Trafficking
AUSTIN, Texas -- In a disturbing trend, Texas has the highest number of human trafficking victims in the nation.
Wednesday, lawmakers and advocates gathered to find ways to get rid of the problem.
"What we need to put as our goal today and this legislative session is to do a Texas law that the rest of the states can adopt. So we can eradicate this out of this entire country," said State Rep. Todd Hunter.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they are committed to the fight.
"Sex trafficking still remains one of the fastest growing businesses of organized crime. I just hate that we have not been able to do move faster, but we are catching up," said state Rep. Senfronia Thompson.
According to the University of Texas, there are 313,000 human trafficking victims in the state; 79,000 of them are children.
State Sen. Sylvia Garcia has introduced a bill that would train truckers to detect trafficking.
"So imagine 200,000 truck drivers, their eyes and ears open, ready to report, identify and assist law enforcement on this issue," she said.
Advocates also wanted a bill that focuses on helping the victims.
"We need to spend more money on the treatment and we need to make sure that a lot of these victims don't end up in the sex industry later on," said Bob Sanborn, Children at Risk CEO.
Sanborn said the state doesn't have enough resources, and victims often end up in prison.
"They do not need to be there. Most of them are victims. Most of them were forced into prostitution and I've interviewed them and they don't want that lifestyle," said State Sen. John Whitmire.
In a packed legislative session, the hope was bipartisan support will lead to real progress. Interstate-10, which runs from El Paso to Houston, has been identified as one of the primary corridors for human trafficking.
Houston law enforcement agencies cracked down on trafficking leading up to the Super Bowl.