Texas Lawmakers Voice Support for Human Trafficking Legislation

Two bills in the Texas Legislature would toughen laws against human trafficking, as well as provide aid to victims. Governor Rick Perry and bill sponsors stopped in Houston to voice support, as Ed Mayberry reports.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte says under both bills, human trafficking offenses would be added to the list of crimes for which a life sentence is automatic upon subsequent conviction.

"And for those that would take our sons, our daughters and our sisters and brothers and put them into a life of forced misery, we will say 'no more. No more'."

Attorney General Greg Abbott, Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Representative Senfronia Thompson and Governor Rick Perry
Left to right: Attorney General Greg Abbott, Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Representative Senfronia Thompson and Governor Rick Perry

Governor Rick Perry says the state must make every effort to solve such problems as human trafficking since the federal government isn't securing the border.

"I continued to be dismayed with the lack of focus on that border. We're going to keep making it a major issue — not just for the victims of these types of crimes, but for all the citizens of our state and frankly, the Mexicans who daily face these drug cartels and the vicious crimes that are being committed on our border."

The bills are responses to recent reports on human trafficking by Attorney General Greg Abbott's office.

"What this legislation does is to send a message that Texas is hostile territory to human traffickers, and a safe haven for victims of that crime."

Senate bill 24 and House bill 7 would create legally distinct definitions of sex trafficking and labor trafficking.  Compelling prostitution of a child would be punishable as a first-degree felony.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...