One year ago, Mayor Sylvester Turner released the city’s anti-trafficking strategic plan. Minal Patel Davis delivered an update on progress. She says the plan engages several City of Houston departments.
“Our health department has required training for all 1,200 employees, and the reason that that’s important is because our health department has restaurant inspectors on staff that go out and inspect all 13,000 food establishments annually, and restaurants are a common site for trafficking.”
The city launched a Municipal Court diversion program, to establish trust with potential victims by supporting their civil and legal needs.
“Those cited with four Class C misdemeanor charges are connected with a legal service provider, and the charges are dismissed if they satisfactorily attend the legal services screening.”
The city’s efforts include raising awareness and changing public perception. That includes a media campaign. Davis expects it to be harder to fight human trafficking with the recent passage of SB 4. She says trafficking victims may be less inclined to seek help if they fear deportation.