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Abstract

All too often, human trafficking victims – like victims of other crimes – are overlooked. When these victims are in need of support and resources, our governments are often underprepared and overburdened. As public servants, Congressman Ted Poe and State Senator Leticia Van de Putte recognize the deficiency in attention and resources dedicated to trafficked victims at both levels of government. Federal and state governments should provide the necessary resources for victims and victim service providers and help facilitate restitution for trafficking victims. In addition, the federal and state governments should help raise awareness of this crime’s impact on our nation. The problem of human trafficking cannot be dealt with at only one level of government. It will take the cooperation of all relevant local, state, and federal government entities to truly make an impact in combating human trafficking in the United States. We will continue to be a voice in Washington and in the State of Texas for victims and victim advocates to provide the needed resources for victims around the country and to draw attention to growing concerns surrounding human trafficking.

Author Biography

Congressman Ted Poe was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 to represent the Second Congressional District of Texas. Prior to serving in Congress, Ted Poe served as a prosecutor in Houston, Texas for eight years where he became the chief felony prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and never lost a jury trial. He later became one of the youngest judges ever appointed in Texas. Judge Poe was elected six times over twenty plus years on the bench and heard more than 20,000 of the worst criminal cases. On the bench, Judge Poe garnered national media attention for his creative sentencing for criminals and hard-nosed approach to enforcing the law. After being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Poe established the bi-partisan Victims’ Rights Caucus to advocate on behalf of victims in our nation’s capital. As co-chair of the VRC, Ted Poe plays a vital role in passing legislation to safeguard our children and to ensure that the needs and issues facing victims of crime are equally represented.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte, a pharmacist for more than 32 years, represents a large portion of San Antonio and Bexar County. A former-five term state representative, she is now serving her fifth term as a Texas State Senator for District 26. She has served as the Chair of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus since 2003 and currently serves as Chair of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, and is also a member of the Senate Committees on Education, State Affairs, and Business and Commerce. Senator Van de Putte is a strong advocate for children, veterans, and quality education. She has consistently authored and sponsored bills to assist families in securing opportunities. Multiple civic organizations and community groups have recognized Senator Van de Putte as one of the most effective and influential legislators in Texas. During the 81st Legislative Session, Senator Van de Putte authored SB 89, which created a statewide human trafficking prevention task force. Housed in the Attorney General's Office, the task force is comprised of law enforcement agencies, social service providers, non-governmental organizations, legal representatives, and state agencies. Her priorities during the 82nd Legislative Session are to enhance penalties for human traffickers, provide additional protections for children who are trafficked for sexual exploitation, and extend the civil statute of limitations for victims.