Mayor Names Human Trafficking Committee
The Houston Chronicle—August 29th, 2012
Mayor Annise Parker introduced her newly appointed 10-member Committee on Human Trafficking after Wednesday’s Council meeting.
Over the next six months, the committee is charged with advising her on how to enlist Houstonians’ help in resisting what the mayor called “modern-day slavery.”
The mayor and two committee members — Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Maria Trujillo, executive director of Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition and the committee chairwoman – offered a few tips on how to spot a victim of trafficking.
- Take note of whether household employees such as nannies have freedom of movement and permission to speak to others.
- When talking to such employees, ask them if they like their jobs, when do they get vacations and holidays, are they happy and do they have access to their identification papers.
- Look for tell-tale signs such as a “massage parlor” that’s open at 3 a.m., when few people would be likely to seek a massage.
- Call 888-373-7888 to report suspected human trafficking.
We are a wonderful, diverse, international city. We are also a city with a problem with human trafficking, We want to take this opportunity of Human Trafficking Awareness Month to focus the attention of Houstonians on the problem and what they can do about the problem and to set in motion an opportunity to talk about solutions for the future.
The city’s press release is here.
Of all human trafficking victims certified in the United States as of 2006, 25 percent were rescued in Texas, most of them in Houston, according to stats from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The other committee members are:
- Wafa Abdin, vice president for immigration legal services, Catholic Charities Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance.
- Laura Boston-Perez, director, Houston Interfaith Worker Justice.
- Russell Etherton, Neighborhood Centers Inc.
- Ed Gallagher, deputy criminal chief, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas.
- Naomi Jiyoung Bang, attorney, FosterQuan, LLP.
- Mandi Kimball, director, public policy & government affairs, Children at Risk.
- Officer Rafael Pantoja, Houston Police Department.
- Jeff Watkins, executive director, YMCA International Services.
Trujillo said that if the committee can find cash or in-kind donors it might launch a campaign with billboards or public service announcements.
Though many have been rescued, Trujillo said, “There’s much more work to be done. We have only scratched the surface.”