| Mayor to Appoint Committee on Human Trafficking|
Committee Will Devise Community Awareness Strategic Plan
Houston Mayor Annise Parker
Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Martha Montalvo
Mayor’s Committee on Human Trafficking Appointees:
Maria A. Trujillo, MA, Executive Director, Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia
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
Mayor Parker will appoint a committee of experts to study the problem of human trafficking. The committee will be charged with devising strategies and goals for a community-based public awareness campaign to help address the issue.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012, following 9:00 a.m. City Council Meeting
Houston City Hall - Council Chamber
901 Bagby Street, 2nd Floor
Houston, TX 77002
Human trafficking is a crime that has a significant impact on many U.S. cities. An estimated 18,000 foreign nationals are victims of human trafficking each year, according to the Rescue & Restore campaign administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Major points of illegal entry into the U.S. serve as human trafficking portals. These include southern and central Texas, Southern California, Tucson, Arizona and areas of New Mexico.
The Houston area has been identified as an emerging portal for international traffickers. A major factor is Houston's close proximity to the Texas-Mexico border, along with its port and international airport. Further, the Interstate 10 corridor, which cuts through the region, has been identified as one of the main routes for human traffickers by the U.S. Department of Justice. Also linked to the incidence of human trafficking is the region's huge immigrant population, whose demographics can put this sector at risk for exploitation.
The Mayor's Committee on Human Trafficking will work in collaboration with the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff's Office and community partners to formulate a strategic plan to educate citizens about the problem and how they can help combat this crime.
The Mayor's Committee on Human Trafficking is an initiative of the Office of International Communities, a division of the Department of Neighborhoods. For more information, visit www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods.