Human trafficking in the United States

Human trafficking in the United States

Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery, with illegal smuggling and trading of people, for forced labor or sexual exploitation.

Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking is not synonymous with forced migration or smuggling.

In the U.S., human trafficking tends to occur around international travel-hubs with large immigrant populations, notably California and Texas. The U.S. Justice Department estimates that 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, but the true figure could be higher, because of the large numbers of undocumented immigrants. Those being trafficked include young children, teenagers, men and women and can be domestic citizens or foreign nationals. According to the Department of State's statistics from 2000, there are approximately 244,000 American children and youth that are at risk for sex trafficking each year. Of these children and youth, 38,600 were originally runaways.

Under Federal law, it is a crime to make people work by use of force, coercion, or fear.


Reports on human trafficking

According to the Department of State 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, the United States is a Tier 1 country for trafficking.Tier 1 means that the government is in compliance with the U.S. government's minimum standards of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 to eliminate trafficking.[1] The minimum standards as listed in section 108 of the legislation are:

(1) "The government of the country should prohibit severe forms of trafficking in persons and punish acts of such trafficking. (2) "For the knowing commission of any act of sex trafficking involving force, fraud, coercion, or in which the victim of sex trafficking is a child incapable of giving meaningful consent, or of trafficking which includes rape or kidnapping or which causes a death, the government of the country should prescribe punishment commensurate with that for grave crimes, such as forcible sexual assault. (3) "For the knowing commission of any act of a severe form of trafficking in persons, the government of the country should prescribe punishment that is sufficiently stringent to deter and that adequately reflects the heinous nature of the offense. (4) "The government of the country should make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons."[2][3]

The U.S. is working to eliminate human trafficking in the U.S. and worldwide. Each year, the Department of State releases data compiled on the state of human trafficking in many different countries including the U.S. in accordance with the Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2000's standards [see below].[2] In addition, it also releases data on trafficking cases under federal prosecution and estimates of those trafficked; however, the report also cautions that the data may not be representative of the number of individuals actually trafficked due to both the lack of cohesion between many states and agencies battling human trafficking and the inability to account for undiscovered victims.[4] Below is a compilation of data from a variety of U.S. agencies and the United Nations.

According to the Attorney General's 2001 report, an estimated 14,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year, although, again because trafficking is illegal, accurate statistics are difficult to compile.[5] The U.S. Justice Department estimates that the number may be as high as 17,500 people a year, but it is unclear how they calculated this estimate. In the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report, Secretary Hillary Clinton addressed that the global financial crisis has decreased the global demand for labor and increased the number of people willing to take risks for economic opportunities will likely increase the prevalence of cases of forced labor and prostitution.[6]

Department of Justice 2011 report

The findings of the U.S. Department of Justice's 2011 report, “Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010,” include:

  1. From 2008 to 2010, Federal anti-trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected cases of human trafficking.
  2. 82% of suspected incidents were classified as sex trafficking and nearly half of these involved victims under the age of 18.
  3. Approximately 10% of the incidents were classified as labor trafficking.
  4. 83% of victims in confirmed sex-trafficking incidents were identified as U.S. citizens, while most confirmed labor-trafficking victims were identified as undocumented immigrants (67%) or legal immigrants (28%).
  5. 25% of the confirmed victims received a "T visa," part of a federal program designed to aid victims of trafficking.

While the findings represent the government’s best estimate, the authors caution that “the data described in this report reflect the information that was available to, and entered by, these state and local law enforcement agencies,” and such data systems are still being established and are likely not recording all incidents.[7]

Department of State 2011 report

According to the Department of State, the U.S. was identified as a Tier 1 country with unspecified federal agencies charging 181 individuals with trafficking other humans and obtaining 141 convictions in 103 human trafficking prosecutions. Of the prosecutions reported by the Department of State, 32 were labor trafficking cases and 71 were sex trafficking cases.[8]

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

During 2009, ICE initiated 566 cases. These investigations led to 388 criminal arrests, more than double the number of arrests from the previous fiscal year, resulting in 148 indictments and 165 convictions.[9]

Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center

The Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center is an inter-agency intelligence center that gathers information on illicit travel—including that of trafficking. The center also coordinates with foreign agencies and diplomats to monitor and fight trafficking on an international basis. With the enactment of TVPRA 2008, the HSTC was also charged with the responsibility of compiling a comprehensive inter-agency database on persons identified as victims of human trafficking.[9]


Geographic distribution of forced laborers

According to the 2011 Department of State report, victims are largely from Thailand, India, Mexico, Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic, though U.S. citizens have also been victims of human trafficking.[8] Relevant to people being trafficked from other countries, "[v]ulnerabilities are increasingly found in visa programs for legally documented students and temporary workers who typically fill labor needs in the hospitality, landscaping, construction, food service, and agricultural industries."[10] Human trafficking occurred consistently in high-population areas that serve as hubs for international travel and that have large immigrant populations. In the study, higher numbers of reported cases were found in California, New York, Texas, and Florida. This is consistent with the U.S. Department of Justice report that the largest concentrations of survivors of human trafficking were located in California, Oklahoma, New York, and Texas.[11]

Types of trafficking

Research conducted by University of California at Berkeley on behalf of the anti-trafficking organization Free the Slaves found that about 46% of people in slavery in the United States are forced into prostitution. The U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted 360 defendants for human trafficking from 2001 to 2007 and gained 238 convictions.[12]

From January 2007 through September 2008, there were 1,229 alleged cases of human trafficking nationally; 1,018 of them, nearly 83 percent, were sex trafficking cases. Sex trafficking has a close relationship with migrant smuggling operations headed by Mexican, Eastern European, and Asian crime organizations.[13] Domestic servitude claims 27% of people in slavery in the U.S., agriculture 10%, and other occupations 17%.[14][15]

Brothels catering exclusively to Latino males, referred to as "Latino Residential Brothels", are a major vehicle for sex trafficking, with the victims being almost exclusively women and children from Latin America.[16][17][18][19] Trafficking of U.S. citizens within the U.S. occurs as well. It is estimated that between 240,000 and 325,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation each year. Children who are considered runaways are at particular risk of prostitution or of being trafficked into the sex industry. Of the 1,682,900 children who were considered runaways for a period of time in 1999, 71% were considered at risk for prostitution. In 2003, 1,400 minors were arrested for prostitution, 14% of whom were younger than 14 years old. A study conducted by the International Labor Union indicated that boys are at a higher risk of being trafficked into agricultural work, the drug trade, and petty crime. Girls were at a higher risk of being forced into the sex industry and domestic work. In 2004, the Department of Labor found 1,087 minors employed in situations that violated hazardous occupation standards. The same year, 5,480 children were employed violating child labor laws. Due to the secretive nature of trafficking, it is difficult to piece together an accurate picture of how widespread the problem is.[12]

Prevalence of forced labor

According to the National Human Rights Center in Berkeley, California, there are currently about 10,000 forced laborers in the U.S., around one-third of whom are domestic servants and some portion of whom are children. In reality, this number could be far higher due to the difficulty in getting exact numbers of victims, due to the secretive nature of human trafficking. On the other hand, it could be far lower—and possibly approach zero—since there are virtually no arrests for this, despite great attention paid by many NGOs and law enforcement agencies. In addition, the U.S. government only keeps a count of survivors, defined as victims of severe instances of human trafficking, who have been assisted by the government in acquiring immigration benefits.[11] The Associated Press reports, based on interviews in California and Egypt, that trafficking of children for domestic labor in the U.S. is an extension of an illegal but common practice in Africa. Families in remote villages send their daughters to work in cities for extra money and the opportunity to escape a dead-end life. Some girls work for free on the understanding that they will at least be better fed in the home of their employer. This custom has led to the spread of trafficking, as well-to-do Africans accustomed to employing children immigrate into the U.S.[20]


California is particularly vulnerable because of "proximity to international borders, number of ports and airports, significant immigrant population, and large economy that includes industries that attract forced labor."[21] It serves both as an entry point for slaves imported from outside the US as well as a destination for slaves. Slavery is found throughout California, but major hubs are centered around Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.[22]


In 2006, Governor Jennifer Granholm signed House Bill 5747[23] (introduced by Rep. Phil Pavlov(R)[24]) which specifically outlawed human trafficking in Michigan. The relevant state statutes are sections 750.462a to 750.462i.[25] Effective April 1, 2011, an additional statute, 750.462j was enacted, which set grounds for further prosecution in human trafficking cases.[26]

Major U.S. hubs

The main factors that contribute to high levels of trafficking through Atlanta and Houston are proximity, demographics, and a large migrant labor force.[27] The presence of two large airports provides ways in and out of the city in Houston and in Atlanta having the worlds busiest and largest airport makes it easy.[28] Proof for the high level of trafficking in Atlanta and Houston includes the high majority of calls to National Trafficking Hotline coming from The Atlanta Center and Houston.[29]


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, [30] Atlanta is home to more strip clubs and illicit spas than Las Vegas; these businesses serve as fronts for sex trafficking.[31] Part of the reasons is due to Atlanta's ethnic diversity which helps victims from foreign countries to easily blend in, and the growing trade and commerce industries which guarantee traffickers money for their actions.[31]


Houston’s proximity to the Mexican border, I-10, a highway running across country through Houston, and the port of Houston make it a popular point of entry for international trafficking.[27] Houston’s huge geographic size and large Hispanic population create optimal conditions for trafficking because of the ability to blend in with the community.[27] There are large Asian and Middle Eastern populations that allow traffickers and their victims to blend easily into local communities.[32] Also, Texas businesses employ migrant labors in many different sectors throughout the state; such as textiles, agriculture, restaurants, construction, and domestic work.[27] This vast diversity makes it difficult for law enforcement to concentrate on any one labor sector and be effective in ending human trafficking.[27]

Types of trafficking found in Houston

The United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines sex trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.[33] Sex trafficking that occurs in Houston is not limited to taking place in strip clubs, spas, massage parlors, modeling studios, cantinas, and residential brothels in hotels, motels, apartments and houses.[33] Labor trafficking found in Houston may be but not limited to agricultural work, restaurants, nail salons, domestic servitude, peddling, begging, or traveling sales crew.[33]

Quantity of trafficking in Texas

Based on a study released by Dallas Women's Foundation, sex trafficking of young girls is not an isolated phenomenon, but a widespread criminal activity in Texas.[34] The research found that 740 girls under age 18 were documented being marketed for sex during a 30-day period in Texas, of whom 712 of these girls were being marketed through Internet classified web sites and 28 were being marketed through escort services.[34] More information concluded from the research is that there are more girls being trafficked for sex in Texas during one month than there are women killed in domestic violence with former or current husbands, intimate partners or boyfriends in Texas over an entire year.[34] There are more girls being trafficked for sex in Texas during one month than there are females of all ages who died from complication due to AIDS in one year in Texas.[34] And finally, there are more girls being trafficked for sex in Texas during one month than there are teen girls who died by suicide, homicide, and accidents in the state in one year.[34]


Evelyn Chumbow, 21, was lured from Cameroon by a rich Maryland couple promising a bright future and a top rate education, as she was a top ranked student in her native country. Instead, she was given no education and forced into servitude for the wealthy couple.[35]

R&A Harvesting was a Florida citrus farm that coerced workers into forced labor with little or no pay. In 2002, four men were charged with organizing forced labor and sentenced to 15 years in jail. They were ordered to turn over their $3 million estate and all their property.[36]

Cristina Andres pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial sex trafficking. She recruited two girls, 13 and 17 at the time, and told them she would get them a job in Nashville at a restaurant. Physical force and threats against the victims and their families were used to keep the girls under the control of those in charge.[37] Other operations can be larger: 31 people were taken into custody following allegations of illegal smuggling of women through Canada and Mexico into the U.S. The Korean women involved were forced to pay off their smuggling debts through prostitution and were shipped around seven different states, including Maryland, and Washington, D.C. In total, 70 women were freed from the suspected trafficking ring.[38]


According to a 2007 Washington Post expose entitled "Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence", human trafficking into the United States is essentially nonexistent.[39]

However, there are more victims than those who have applied for and been granted certification. First, certification requires that the victim be willing to cooperate with a police investigation. Following a police raid, some victims just want to go home, some victims don’t want to cooperate with police and are deported, and some victims are afraid to testify against vicious traffickers. The application for certification requires support from law enforcement. If the victim is not seen as useful for a case, or if the police don’t want to pursue a case, they have no support to stay in the U.S. and will not be counted as victims of trafficking.

Nevertheless, the number of identified victims (or convicted traffickers) is far less than the official claim (by the U.S. State Department) that as many 14,500-17,500 individuals are trafficked into the United States every year. A recent analysis by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics showed a gap between the claimed number of victims and the number of confirmed cases of victimization.[40]

A gap between the alleged number of victims and the number of confirmed cases also characterizes the situation worldwide. The U.S. Department of State recently reported that 0.4 percent of the estimated victims of trafficking internationally had been officially identified.[41] The State Department report provided no source for the number of either estimated or identified victims. Some critics, like Markon in the Washington Post, note that all such estimates are deeply flawed.[42]

Structural factors of human trafficking


Poverty can lead to increased trafficking in many different ways. Poverty affects the notion of individual choice and often drives families to make decisions out of desperation and lack of education.[43] Poverty, in some countries, may influence parents to send their children to work in another urban country with a more stable economy, such as the U.S., without the knowledge that the child is then forced into slave labor or prostitution. Furthermore, once this kidnapping and trafficking of the child occurs, the victim often accepts their situation and limits efforts to escape their imprisonment. Oftentimes, they wind up alone in a country where they do not speak the language, making it difficult to seek aid.[44] In addition, victims often accept their positions because they feel that this is the only way that they may send some remittances to their family and their enslaved situations may in some cases still be better than their original impoverished and desperate state.[43]


The rate of human trafficking has directly increased in correlation with globalization.[45] Globalization has increased cross-border trade and the demand for cheap labor; however, migration policies of the U.S. and other countries have not changed with the level of demand for cheap labor, thus forcing people illegally to immigrate.[43] Illegal immigration then creates ideal conditions for organized criminal operations to form trafficking circles.[43] With increased trade of foreign goods to rural areas, import competition in the rural markets has also forced people in poor areas to migrate to industrialized economies for better livelihoods. Their desperate positions often make them subject to exploitation and trafficking into different forms of forced labor to support that economy.[43] Lastly, the technological advances that go hand in hand with globalization have facilitated the ease with which organized crime circles may conduct trafficking operations.[43]


Some feminists, such as Carole Pateman, believe that exploitation is in both prostitution and sex trafficking.[46] They believe that even if the women agreed to be a sex worker in a foreign country that the worker was still trafficked because of the preceding conditions that lead her to believe that sex work was the only viable work option.[46] Other feminists such as Kamala Kempadoo, on the other hand, believe that prostitution is a form of labor just like any other migrant labor; however, due to the criminalization of prostitution, prostitutes are then subject to coercion and exploitation and subsequent trafficking.[47] Current debates about modifications to Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 policy are based about these two arguments. In providing aid for victims of sex trafficking the government must take a stand on whether or not they believe the sex industry and sex trafficking are inherently linked.[43]

Government corruption

Even though the U.S. offers protection for trafficking victims, few victims seek the government's aid due to fear of corruption, fear of deportation, or fear of reprisals with their family.[48] Victims of trafficking may be citizens of countries with corrupt governments that actually aid trafficking.[48] Where victims' home countries lack reliable police systems, trafficking victims are hesitant to reach out to the law for aid. In addition, because the trafficked victims may be in the U.S. illegally, they fear deportation back to their home countries.[47] Deportation can often leave trafficked victims at the mercy of their traffickers once again or it may cause harm to their families through either punishment by the traffickers or a loss of remittances that the traffickers had been sending to the family.[47]

Anti-trafficking laws and policies

Laws against trafficking

Laws against trafficking exist at the federal and community levels. Over half of the states now criminalize human trafficking, though the penalties are not as tough as under the federal laws. Related federal and state efforts focus on regulating the tourism industry to prevent the facilitation of sex tourism and regulate international marriage brokers to ensure criminal background checks and information on how to get help are given to the potential brides.

Policy of the federal government

The federal government has taken a firm stance against human trafficking both within its borders and beyond. Domestically, human trafficking is a federal crime under Title 18 of the United States Code. Section 1584 makes it a crime to force a person to work against her or his will, whether the compulsion is effected by use of force, threat of force, threat of legal coercion, or "a climate of fear" (an environment wherein individuals believe they may be harmed by leaving or refusing to work); Section 1581 similarly makes it illegal to force a person to work through "debt servitude." Human trafficking as it relates to involuntary servitude and slavery is prohibited by the 13th Amendment. Federal laws on human trafficking are enforced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies, to include Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency as well as the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section.

Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 allowed for greater statutory maximum sentences for traffickers, provided resources for protection of and assistance for victims of trafficking, and created avenues for interagency cooperation. It also allows many trafficking victims to remain in the U.S. and apply for permanent residency under a T-1 Visa.[49] Previously, trafficked individuals who were often in the country illegally were treated as criminals. According to the section on Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons, the definition extends to include any "commercial sex act ... in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age."[50] This means that any minor engaged in prostitution is a victim of human trafficking, regardless of citizenship or whether or not movement has taken place.[51] The law defines trafficking as “the prohibition against any individual who provides or obtains labor or services for peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor.” The law distinguishes trafficking, where victims are coerced into entering the U.S., from smuggling, where migrants enter the country without authorization.[52] The act also attempted to encourage efforts to prevent human trafficking internationally, by creating annual country reports on trafficking and tying financial non-humanitarian assistance to foreign countries to real efforts in addressing human trafficking. The benefits of the law, however, are dependent on the survivor’s cooperation with prosecuting the perpetrators. This can be complicated if the victim fears retribution from their trafficker or has a fear of authority that remains from their country of origin.[11]

The original TVPA of 2000 has been reauthorized three times, the most recent being the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. These reauthorizations have clarified definitions of trafficking and forced labor in order both to aid in prosecution of traffickers and to aid the victims of trafficking. The reauthorization versions have also required the federal government to terminate all contracts with overseas contractors involved in human trafficking or forced labor. Extraterritoriality jurisdiction was also extended to cover all U.S. nationals and permanent residents who are living overseas.[53]

In "October 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) (Public Law 106-386) was enacted. Prior to that, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers".[9] In 2003, the Bush Administration authorized more than $200 million to combat human trafficking through the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (TVPRA). TVPRA renews the U.S. government's commitment to identify and assist victims exploited through labor and sex trafficking in the U.S. The U.S. has also set up programs to help those who have been victims. The government can help victims, once identified, by stabilizing their immigrant status. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enables victims who are non-U.S. citizens to receive federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee; as well, U.S. citizens who are victims are eligible for many benefits.

Pressure from human rights groups

International NGOs such as Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and for immigration officers to improve their awareness of trafficking and support the victims of trafficking.[54][55]

Policy of state governments

Several RICO Act. Washington State was the first to pass a law criminalizing human trafficking in 2003.[56] In 2011, California enacted a new law called the “Transparency in Supply Chains Act.”[57] The law requires certain retailers to disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chains. The law went into effect January 1, 2012, and it applies to any company that is in the "retail trade" that has annual worldwide gross receipts in excess of $100 million and annual California sales exceeding $500,000.[58]

Texas laws and policies

There are several pieces of legislation in place in Texas working to combat human trafficking. Recent legislation passed in Texas mandates that all incoming local law enforcement receive training on human trafficking.[59] In Houston specifically, one of the primary elements of the Juvenile Justice System in Harris County is the Juvenile Probation Department (HCJPD). HCJPD is “committed to the protection of the public, utilizing intervention strategies that are community-based, family-oriented and least restrictive while emphasizing responsibility and accountability of both parent and child.” Feeding into HCJPD is the juvenile court system that includes five juvenile courts (each with a different judge presiding), a juvenile mental health court, and a juvenile drug court.[28]

78th Texas State Legislature

The 78th Texas State Legislature passed a bill called the House Bill 2096 (Penal Code Ch. 20A.02), which prohibits trafficking in persons. The offense is categorized as a second-degree felony, with an enhancement to a first-degree felony for involving a child younger than 14 years of age, or any trafficking offense that results in the death of the trafficked person. Section 20A.01 established definitions for “forced labor or services” and “trafficking,” and § 20A.02 outlined offenses and penalties. This bill became effective on September 1, 2003.[33]

80th Texas State Legislature
House Bill 1121

House Bill 1121, which revises Texas Penal Code Section 20A to strengthen definition of human trafficking and elements of the offense: One of the main obstacles in verifying that human trafficking has occurred under the original Section 20A provisions is due to the limited definition of “forced labor” and the required element of transportation. House Bill 1121 (HB 1121) expands the definition to include threatened actions and removes the requirement that the victim must be physically transported for the offense to be present. These provisions were incorporated from Senate Bill 1283/House Bill 3370. HB 1121 also enables judges to issue an official verification, or judicial finding, that a victim is truly a victim of trafficking, as defined by the federal law. With the passage of this law, more victims will be able to use this judicial finding in order to obtain a T-VISA and be eligible for services available to holders of T-VISAs. This bill became effective immediately.[33]

Senate Bill 1287 and Senate Bill 1288

This legislator also passed the Senate Bill 1287 and Senate Bill 1288 – requires posting of rescue hotline in certain establishments: Victims of human trafficking very rarely self-identify because of fear and lack of resources. Eighty-percent of human trafficking victims work in locations where alcohol is served. Senate Bill 1287 (SB 1287) was passed mandating that bars post a sign in both English and Spanish about forced labor and a toll-free referral number for victims of trafficking. The sign must be displayed in a clear and visible manner to the public and employees. Senate Bill 1288 (SB 1288) also requires a sign to be posted with a toll-free referral number for victims in hotels or motels pending the final disposition of common nuisance lawsuits. SB 1287 Effective Date: September 1, 2007. SB 1288 This bill became effective immediately.[33]

House Bill 1751

They also passed the House Bill 1751, which establishes an account to fund grants to support programs for sexual assault victims, human trafficking victims, and human trafficking investigations: The majority of human trafficking victims are women and children who are forced to perform sexual labor. House Bill 1751 (HB 1751) imposes an entrance fee of $5 for admission to certain sexually oriented businesses. The fees collected are to be sent to the Comptroller who shall deposit the first $25 million received from this fee during a state fiscal biennium to the credit of the sexual assault program fund. The bill also provides that the attorney general may award grants out of this fund to support a variety of programs providing services to, or otherwise benefiting, sexual assault victims and human trafficking victims including grants to support sexual assault and human trafficking prosecution projects. While HB 1751 did not incorporate the specific language of Senate Bill 1286/House Bill 3374 (which would have established a dedicated account providing grants to counties to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases), HB 1751 does allow for grants to be allocated out of the sexual assault program fund for such projects. Effective Date: January 1, 2008. Legislation Filed But Not Adopted During 80th Legislature.[33]

81st Texas State Legislature
House Bill 4009

They passed the House Bill 4009, which establishes a victim assistance program for domestic human trafficking victims. It includes the maintenance of a searchable database of assistance programs for domestic victims, and establishes a program to award grants to public and nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to domestic victims, promote public awareness activities, conduct community outreach and training, help in victim identification, and/or offer legal services. HB 4009 also requires training programs and an outreach initiative for judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement personnel to increase awareness of the needs of domestic victims and the services available under the program. Finally, the bill requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to conduct a study to identify additional revenue streams for the victim assistance program. HHSC must submit a report on the study to the 82nd Legislature no later than December 1, 2010. Amendments to HB 4009 include designation of a statewide human trafficking task force to improve data collection and align existing state resources to fight human trafficking and a mandated training of law enforcement officers to enable them to identify human trafficking victims. Additionally, the amendments revised the Compelling Prostitution statute to make it consistent with the Human Trafficking statute by raising the age of minors from under 17 to under18 and created a defense to prostitution for victims of human trafficking. Lastly, it created liability for the trafficker regardless of whether he knew the victim was a minor and requires the executive director of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) to establish a committee to evaluate certain alternatives to the juvenile justice system for children who are accused of engaging in acts of prostitution. Effective Date: September 1, 2009.[33]

House Bill 533

The House Bill 533 creates civil liability for human traffickers by providing victims with an avenue to sue their traffickers. Traffickers cannot use as a defense to liability that they have been acquitted of or not prosecuted for human trafficking, or convicted of a different offense that is alleged to have given rise to liability. Plaintiffs who prevail may recover actual damages including mental anguish as well as exemplary damages, and any reasonable attorney fees. Effective Date: Immediately.[33]

House Bill 3094

The House Bill 3094, creates liability for operating an illegitimate “massage parlor” in counties with a population of 3.3 million or more. A district or county attorney may bring a suit to enjoin the operation of the offending massage parlor. The offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor and civil penalties may also be brought in district court of up to $1,000 per violation. Each day a violation continues is considered a separate violation. The penalties provided for in this bill are in addition to any other penalties that may be allowed under the law. Effective Date: Immediately.[33]

Senate Bill 707

The Senate Bill 707 requires sexually oriented businesses to maintain proper identification records for their employees or independent contractors. SB 707 specifies that proper identification includes: 1) Physical description and photograph; 2) Date of birth of the person; 3) Be issued by a government agency (driver’s license, passport or another state issued ID). The record must be kept for up to two years after the last day of employment. The Texas Workforce Commission, the Attorney General, or local law enforcement shall be allowed to inspect the records maintained if there is good reason to believe that a child does work or did work at the sexually oriented business within the previous two years. A business fails to comply if it fails to maintain a record or knowingly or intentionally hinders an authorized inspection. Effective Date: September 1, 2009[33]

House Bill 960

The House Bill 960 gives a municipality or county the right to access National Crime Information Center criminal history record information for the purposes of obtaining information regarding persons applying for a license to operate a sexually oriented business in the municipality or county. Effective Date: Immediately.[33]

82nd Texas State Legislature

Summary of Adopted Legislation provided by Children At Risk

Senate Bill 24

The Senate Bill 24 expands the definition of the offense of trafficking in the Penal Code to specifically address child trafficking and implements enhanced penalties when a child victim is involved; also adds language pertaining to prostitution; promotion of prostitution; and compelling prostitution. Eliminates the statute of limitations to bring a felony indictment for trafficking of persons or compelling prostitution when a child victim is involved, and extends the statute of limitations for adult victims to ten years. Lowers the prosecutorial burden for defendants of child trafficking or compelling prostitution by admittance of evidence of extraneous offenses. Prohibits eligibility for community supervision for persons convicted of human trafficking or compelling prostitution. Extends the civil statute of limitations for personal injury to 5 years (previously 2 years) for victims of trafficking and compelling prostitution. Requires involuntary termination of parental rights for parents who have been convicted or placed on community supervision for harming a child as a result of a trafficking or compelling prostitution offense. Requires life imprisonment for convicted child traffickers. Effective Date: September 1, 2011.[33]

House Bill 2014

The House Bill 2014 addresses TABC procedures – must refuse reissuance of license for one year if license previously cancelled in prior year for prostitution or trafficking. Denial of bail for violation of condition of bond if offense committed is against a child younger than 14 years of age (trafficking or prostitution). Mandatory restitution for child victims of prostitution or compelling prostitution under age 18 – court ordered in the amount necessary for rehabilitation. Includes property used in the commission of HT to be included on the list of contraband that can be forfeited. Requires defendants of trafficking and compelling prostitution to be included in the computerized criminal history system. Increases penalty to third degree felony for Johns if child solicited 14 or older but younger than 18. Effective Date: September 1, 2011.[33]

House Bill 3000

The House Bill 3000 establishes “Continuous Trafficking of Persons” offense for persons who traffic two or more times during a period of 30 days or more. Effective Date: September 1, 2011.[33]

Organizations against trafficking

National organizations

  1. Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW): influences shaping of U.S. policy against trafficking.[60] Distinguishes between prostitution and sex trafficking.[61][62]
  2. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW): influences shaping of U.S. policy against trafficking.[60][61] Does not acknowledge a difference between prostitution and sex trafficking.[62]

Organizations in Texas

  1. The Coalition Against Human Trafficking: works to increase community awareness of human trafficking and coordinate the identification, assistance, and protection of victims through community education, advocacy, provision of culturally and linguistically sensitive victim services, and efforts to ensure the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers.[63]
  2. Mosaic Family Services operates the Services for Victims of Trafficking Program that provides culturally and linguistically competent services to victims experiencing abuse, so that they may quickly recover from a criminal act.[63]
  3. The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault: educates rape centers and domestic violence shelters throughout Texas about human trafficking.[63]
  4. Free the Captives: is a Christian-based NGO that has objectives including educating the community, preventing, and intervening in the trafficking of at-risk teens, reducing the demand, and pursuing legal remedies to combat trafficking.[64]
  5. Houston Rescue and Restore: exists to prevent and confront modern-day slavery by educating the public, training professionals, and empowering the community to take action for the purpose of identifying, rescuing, and restoring trafficking victims to freedom.[65]
  6. CHILDREN AT RISK: works to end child trafficking and ensure that child victims are recognized as victims and not criminals.[66]
  7. Innocence Lost

Organizations in Florida

Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking ( based in Clearwater, Florida. FCAHT’s founder, Anna Rodriguez, had her first experience with a Human Trafficking case in 1999; U.S. vs. Tecum. Anna served as a victim advocate with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and an outreach coordinator for the Immokalee Shelter for Abused Women in Collier County, Florida for 10 years. Her first human trafficking case developed from a “home visitation”, in where she was following up on a domestic violence incident. She noticed the presence of a young female who turned out to be a victim of human trafficking. Anna identified “red flags” that made her suspicious and eventually she helped get the victim out. Today the Tecum case has become a major case study by agencies including USDOJ, FSU, Croft Institute for International and New York Times. The Tecum case was one of the cases used to urge US Congress in passing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

The mission of FCAHT is to improve and provide outreach and services to victims of human trafficking throughout the State of Florida by developing support programs, networking, coalition building, training, service delivery, and referrals to victims in need. FCAHT works closely with community service providers to provide victims with emergency food and shelter, medical and psychological treatment and other services as needed to help these individuals restore their lives and their freedoms.

FCAHT provides training to law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, faith based, civil and community organizations to bring awareness and recognition to the signs and symptoms of Human Trafficking.

FCAHT also works very closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, State and local law enforcement agencies in Florida as well providing guidance to law enforcement Nationwide and Internationally. FCAHT also works hand in hand with government officials, victim service providers, faith based groups and civic groups throughout Florida, the Nation and overseas. FCAHT has assisted in the coordination of funded/unfunded human trafficking task forces throughout the state of Florida and across the Nation as well. FCAHT has also assisted in the creation of new human trafficking laws within the State of Florida as well as overseas.

  1. Florida Abolitionist: based in Orlando[67]

Trafficking as a moral panic

A number of authorities and critics of contemporary anti-prostitution activism have pointed out that the hysteria over human trafficking as conflated with voluntary adult prostitution has all the hallmarks of a moral panic, and indeed closely resembles the white slavery hysteria at the beginning of the 20th century. As is typical in such panics, broad claims are made with insufficient factual support, "horror stories" of victims take the place of research, and legislators rush to enact dangerously broad and vague legislation which infringes on civil rights. Anthropologist Laura Agustín has written at great length about the way voluntary migration is purposefully conflated with involuntary trafficking, and how anti-trafficking laws tend to assume any foreign or underage prostitute is a "trafficking victim" even if she denies it. In a similar vein, ethnographers studying U.S.-born adolescents involved in street-based sex markets have argued that the relationships that these adolescents have with the adults in their lives who help facilitate their market activity typically have a far greater mutuality and equality than is understood by policy-makers, social service providers, and not-for-profit advocates who embrace the human trafficking model.[68] Such critiques of this narrative have generally been dismissed by activists as evidence of Stockholm Syndrome, thus denying the prostitute agency and treating her as mentally ill.[69][70][71][72][73][74][75] Ethnographers concerned with the validity of activists' impressions studied a federal anti-trafficking task force in a city that had been identified as a hub for domestic minor sex trafficking. In comparing local sex markets with the understandings of local social service providers, law enforcement officials, and anti-trafficking activists participating in the task force they found that many of the claims of widespread trafficking activity were either exaggerations or misinterpretations of anecdotal evidence; thus calling into question activists' ability to understand the context of what they were seeing.[76]

Popular culture

  • Mommie Dearest; "Joan Crawford['s] ... Mommie Dearest daughter supposedly came from the Tennessee Children's Home Society"[77][1]


  1. ^ Joan Crawford, a subject of Mommie Dearest

See also


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  6. ^ US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2009: Introduction
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  15. ^ The Carnegie Legal Reporting Program at Newhouse - Blog Comments
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  22. ^ Freedom Denied
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  35. ^ [Beatings, Isolation and Fear: The Life of a Slave in the U.S.]
  36. ^ Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States, p. 8
  37. ^ Woman Pleads Guilty to Forcing Juvenile Girls Into Prostitution In Memphis - re> WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/
  38. ^ Washington DC News, Maryland News, Virginia News, Local News, Weather, Traffic, Entertainment, Breaking News | NBC4 Washington
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  56. ^ Human Trafficking
  57. ^ SB 657 Senate Bill - CHAPTERED
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  67. ^ Jeff Kunerth (January 10, 2013). "Orlando abolitionist Tomas Lares fights modern-day slavery".  
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  73. ^  
  74. ^ Trafficking | Estimates | Disagreement | International Organisations | UNESCO | The Naked Anthropologist
  75. ^ Stockholm Syndrome | Trafficking Victims | Rescue | Psychobabble | The Naked Anthropologist
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  77. ^ Flair, Ric, with Keith Elliot Greenberg, Mark Madden, ed., Ric Flair: To Be the Man (N.Y.: Pocket Books (div. of Simon & Schuster), World Wrestling Entertainment, 1st Pocket Books hardcover ed. July 2004 (ISBN 0-7434-5691-2)), p. 3 (in chap. 1 (Black Market Baby)) (author Flair wrestler) (per WorldHeritage generally a ).