AUSTIN (KXAN) — Congressman Michael McCaul aimed his efforts at increasing awareness on domestic human trafficking and finding solutions to end the dangerous cycle this January.
“It’s the modern day slavery of our lifetime and these stories are shocking,” said McCaul, R-Austin.
President Donald Trump declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The United States House of Representatives passed three bills targeted at helping human trafficking victims with McCaul’s support, including the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act of 2017. That campaign will allow the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate with local law enforcement to share intelligence with private sector entities, such as hotels and trucking stops, where it’s common for young women to get caught up in sexual abuse and drug addiction, McCaul said.
McCaul said women and children are the most vulnerable to this “human tragedy.”
“Some of these children are brought from Central America up into the United States and exploited and others are just to local high school campuses … they get sort of put into this vicious cycle that they can’t break out of,” McCaul said.
McCaul said supporting local organizations such as Austin’s Refuge, a shelter for child survivors of sex trafficking, will help the U.S. focus on the dangerous effects of victimization. “It’s a very traumatic experience,” McCaul said. “They have a lot of issues they have to grapple with after the fact. So places like the Refuge are fantastic.”
McCaul said initiatives to understand and rebuild victims should be a priority, in addition to prosecution.
“I think only until recently have we been paying attention and prosecuting the offenders, learning how to spot the signs of it and effectively deal with this on a nationwide level.”
Anyone in need of help in a trafficking situation can call 1-888-373-7888.