THE TEXAS CAPITOL, AUSTIN - The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives today announced his appointment of State Representative Sergio Muñoz, Jr. to the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking.
Muñoz, who was appointed on January 20 by Speaker Joe Straus, joins Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, on the 10-member Joint Committee. The pair make up the representation that the Rio Grande Valley deserves for such a critical issue.
"I am proud to appoint these House members to this important committee tasked with giving voice to victims of human trafficking," said Speaker Straus of his appointments to the committee. "The Texas House will continue to work with law enforcement and human rights groups to end this tragedy."
Human trafficking, a multibillion dollar criminal enterprise which is a modern-day form of slavery, will come under additional state legislative scrutiny by the special House-Senate committee.
“Human trafficking is defined as a crime against humanity, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them,” said Muñoz.
Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad, according to the United Nations. Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
Speaker Straus emphasized the importance of battling human trafficking and its presence in the Lone Star State… “Human trafficking is a tragedy that occurs all too often within Texas,” said the House Speaker. “This committee is charged to study ways to combat it, including how the Legislature can work collaboratively with law enforcement and human rights groups to obtain justice for victims and to end this inhumanity.”
Human trafficking is second only to drug dealing in criminal profitability and is the fastest growing illegal enterprise, according to the Polaris Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that maintains the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, according to House Concurrent Resolution 68, the legislation that in the spring of 2011 authorized the creation of the Joint Interim Committee on Human Trafficking.
Also according to HCR 68:
• Texas is a major point of illegal entry into the United States;
• The state’s large geographic size along with its demographics make the Lone Star State appealing to traffickers, who endeavor to blend into the population while exploiting their victims in forced labor and prostitution;
• Although Texas has been recognized as a leader in the effort to end the scourge of human trafficking, eradication of this modern-day form of slavery is a difficult challenge, and every means of combating it should be explored; and
• It is estimated that 18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year and that the number of U.S. citizens trafficked within our own borders is even higher, with more than 200,000 American children at high risk for trafficking into the sex industry.
RICHARD P. SANCHEZ
121 E. Tom Landry