This article originally appears in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can read it in its entirety here.
It may seem inappropriate with everything facing our nation right now — a pandemic, an economic shutdown, a presidential election — to insist we still need to bear down on a yet another crisis, the appalling crime of human trafficking. But bear down we must.
Texans can take pride that our state is a national leader in this cause, with a large array of organizations dedicated to helping victims and Gov. Greg Abbott in the forefront of the fight. The governor, working with the Board of Pardons and Paroles, has created a clemency process for victims who committed crimes — such as drug offenses — while they were under traffickers’ control but who deserve consideration for the circumstances of those crimes.
Passing new legislation cracking down on human trafficking and providing more help for its victims would not only be the right thing to do, it would be the politically smart thing to do.
Human traffickers usually operate in two spheres: forced sex work and forced labor. There is considerable overlap between the two. Many women forced into work say they are also exploited sexually.
Every state is infected by human trafficking. All try to combat it, but results vary widely. The Protected Innocence Project issued a national report card in 2019 that gave several states, including Texas, As. But many got Bs, and many more, including California and New York, drew Cs. That is deeply disappointing …