Data from the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work show that over 300,000 victims are trafficked across and in Texas, in addition to approximately 80,000 children and youth, 234,000 older adults ensnared in work trafficking. However, the data were given only give a small fraction of the extent of the problem as there are other hidden victims unaccounted for and often point to a higher than normal trafficking. Human trafficking takes place when one person takes control of another through deception, violence, coercion into situations that involved commercial sex, domestic servitude, and forced labor. In Texas, the data given is only a fraction of the extent of the problem as the scope and nature of the crime is not easy to measure. The major types of trafficking in Texas involve adults who are forced into labor into fields such as industries, agriculture, food service, and sales. The trafficking of adults for commercial sex work in massage parlors, streets, internet prostitution, strip clubs, and brothels. Trafficking of kids has over the years increased with children between the ages of 10 and 18 falling victim. Often, children are trafficked for sexual purposes and domestic work. The past three decades have featured cumbersome and frequent human trafficking as the number continues to unprecedented levels.
Texas has an organized crime persons behind the practice with strip club operators, unscrupulous employers, peers, and relatives facilitating abduction and coercion of individuals into the hands of the traffickers. In the case of children, Texas citizens, promote the practice of selling the children to other Texas residents who in turn may sell them to foreigners. Figure 1 below shows statistics on the crime in Texas.
In the month of February, the Attorney General, General Ken Paxton released a training manual incorporating video and media coverage aimed at helping victims of human trafficking. The initiative, "Trackers against Trafficking," also under the same handbook, is designed to help the community as a whole to watch out for traffickers and victims of the crime(Newell et al., 34). In the larger refuge ranch, the local leaders have established a center for helping victims of the offense, especially young girls between the ages of 12 and 18. Additionally, the state has put in place a hotline through the National Human Trafficking Hotline with the sole aim of responding to trafficking cases in addition to sharing information with the authorities. In conjunction with the Office on Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Governor, offers information, logistics, and structural frameworks on how to handle human trafficking cases across the state of Texas.
In the year 2011, the then Gov. Rick Perry puts in place legislations that set strict penalties for all crimes involving human trafficking. Additionally, the legislation provided for, training for all law enforcement officers. According to Newell et al., (56), the state further offers safe housing, treatment centers, health care, and remedial training for victims of human trafficking aimed at helping them get back to normal in the society. Additionally, legislations passed included the requirement by all beverage selling outlets to post notices on human trafficking. On the other hand, policymakers have toyed with the idea of installing, building inspectors to look out for any visible sign of the crime. The Houston Rescue and Restoration Coalition was set up to help victims of human trafficking with Houston and beyond. The same program and initiative have been initiated in different parts of Texas. Researchers concerned with the high spate of human trafficking in Texas also initiated the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project of Texas aimed at looking into the economic impact and prevalence of the crime in the wider Texas state. With a collaboration with the IDVSA, Allies Against Slavery, the Criminal Justice Division, and the Governors Office, the organizations have helped create awareness of human trafficking, in addition, to assist the society in stay alert for any signs and persons involved in human trafficking (Newell et al., 101). The organizations and researchers work together to combine data and study to produce consistent findings aimed at giving indicators of the crime.
However, Newell et al., (102), argues that despite these concerted efforts, lawmakers, lawyers, and the public acknowledge that more need to be done as the traffickers have developed very creative and intelligent ways to bypass detection. Despite the numerous policies, initiatives, community programs, and state legislations, the crime is still rampant with the traffickers adapting to sophisticated and daring methods to go undetected. Many locals, policymakers, and victims of the offense acknowledge that more need to be done regarding stricter legislation, community-based programs, and self-sponsored initiatives at individual levels to control and bring down the high number of cases of human trafficking (Newell et al., 101). Even though the policies are helpful and many have over the years developed an awareness of the crime, more needs to be done in the state of Texas to bring to an end the crime.
The Border Wall
The building of the border fence was majorly prompted by the need to boost security, prevent illegal immigrants from gaining entry into the state, and to demarcate land that was typically unmarked but within the border of Texas. Illegal immigrants cost the United States, approximately $113 billion per annum. It has been considered a burden to the federal government with high spending on social welfare, education programs, and health care. Following an outcry by locals along the borders of Texas neighboring Mexico of infiltration of Mexicans and the use of the borders as drug dens and entry, the state decided to put up a wall to prevent criminals and human traffickers from gaining entry into the state of Texas (Newell et al., 112). Continued fighting between drug cartels also prompted the construction of the border fence. Texas boasts of the longest stretch of borderline, including states such as Leon, Tamaulipas, Nuevo, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. These boundary points have over the years remained key entry points for criminals, human traffickers, drug peddlers, and immigrants into the United States. Of particular concern to legislators was the Sept 11 bombing of the World Trade Center in which they worried that the porous border played a vital role in transporting weapons of mass destruction into the United States of America (Newell et al., 121). The border stretches for approximately 1,254 miles with the vast, extending from the El Paso to Brownsville, demarcated by the Rio Grande River. The notion of weapons of mass destruction, making entry into the country via the border prompted policy makers to enact strict security regulations along the Mexico border.
Implications of the wall
The border wall has significantly affected the free movement and migration of wild animals from one region to another. At the same time, the standard health and lives of the local along the border was significantly affected primarily during the construction and after. The locals experienced massive flooding as the waters concentrated on the concrete wall causing both ethical and legal consequences. Many of the locals also cited a disruption of their ways of life that included cultural evolution, laws, freedoms, and the introduction of racial divide amongst the communities that lived along the border. Environmentally, the construction of the frontier wall restricted plant growth, fragments the natural habitat and destroys the natural connection between animals.
Although the building of the border made sense politically, in addition to giving a "false impression," it posed a lot of challenges to the natural environment in addition to the physical connection between communities sharing natural resources along the border line. For example, the El Paso, the Kickapoo living along the Texas-Mexico border have over the years expressed grave concern about the adverse effect the boundary wall has had on their cultural, religious, and traditional aspects of living. Additionally, families who had lived along the borderline for many years lost much of their private property as the wall separated their land either on the Texas side or the Mexican side.
Success of the Border Wall
The construction of the border wall has led to some level of success as the number of illegal immigrants has significantly gone down. In addition to increased border patrol, the entry of illegal drugs, drug cartels in the United States has also reduced significantly. At the same time, the states and the federal government have seen a reduction in the number of agents and revenue spent in monitoring the borders. In a way, the border wall has met its intended goals.
Pros and Cons of the Border Wall
Over the years since its construction, the wall the number of illegal immigrants has reduced considerably. The fence has further reduced drug-related conflicts and lawlessness involving drug cartels and groups. On the same note, the state has drastically reduced the amount and number of drug-related cases and transportation of the same in the United States of America. Additionally, the state of Texas has had a few cases involving illegal immigrants. Initially, the state and border agents handled the many numbers of illegal immigrants who had made entry into the country without valid traveling documents.
Environmental conservation agencies have over the years raised concern and alarm over the disruption of human and animal lifestyle with the construction of the wall. Additionally, it has imposed unnecessary pressure and burden on landowners, especially in the regions where the border lies. Many families have been left out of their previous state. For example, many families had been moved out of their native land as the frontier wall cuts them off from the US land. On the same note, the border wall has often and in most cases sent a wrong message to the world as it alienates and puts a barrier to other communities, a state that goes against the principle of the Statute of Liberty. In a way, it is an unfriendly gesture and sign to the world.
Newell, Charldean, David F. Prindle, and James Riddlesperger. Texas Politics 2015-2016. Cengage Learning, 2015.
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