Criminal JusticeFederalImmigration & BorderIssuesTexas Sex Trafficking Official Says Border Crisis Is a ‘Perfect Storm of Vulnerability’ for Children

The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said traffickers make false promises to entrap victims.
March 17, 2021
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In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Andrea Sparks, director of the governor’s child sex trafficking prevention team, said the current border crisis is a “perfect storm of vulnerability” for children as Gov. Greg Abbott accused the Biden administration of contributing to the crisis via lax enforcement policies and inadequate resources.

“We’ve heard stories that kids as young as six are crossing the border alone, and they are scared, they’re confused and they are very likely to end up in the hands of an exploiter from what we know about human trafficking and how it works,” Sparks said.

Sparks explained that her team advances the interests of children by “preventing, identifying, and addressing” exploitation, which is perpetrated by pimps, gangs, international cartels, and even family members in some cases.

For the purpose of investigating trafficking activities, Abbott said he is asking Biden to allow the State of Texas to interview unaccompanied minors in federal custody. 

He also announced that the state is expanding Operation Lone Star — which involved sending 1,000 Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers to assist with border enforcement — to encompass “anti-human trafficking efforts, such as interviewing unaccompanied minors to learn if they are victims of human trafficking.”

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“President Biden’s reckless open border policies have created a humanitarian crisis that is enriching the cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers who often prey on and abuse unaccompanied minors,” Abbott said. “Whether it’s securing the border or fighting human trafficking, the state of Texas will always step up to fill the gaps left by Washington.”

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has contended that the Trump administration left current leadership unprepared for the uptick in enforcement encounters, which predates Biden’s presidency.

“The prior administration tore down the lawful pathways that had been developed for children to come to the United States in a safe, efficient, and orderly way,” Mayorkas said on Tuesday. “It tore down, for example, the Central American Minors program that avoided the need for children to take the dangerous journey to our southwest border.”

The Biden administration reopened the Carrizo Springs Influx Car Facility last month and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) leased the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas to house boys ranging in age from 15 to 17, who are from outside the U.S. and without parents or legal guardians.

The federal government also sent 700 unaccompanied minors to Midland without notifying the sheriff, according to the city’s congressman, Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX-11).

The governor said he expects more unaccompanied minor facilities to appear and the capacities of those facilities to continue to expand.

Republicans and Democrats have urged Biden to take more assertive action to secure the southern border, which is often breached by illegal aliens from not only Mexico and Central America, but from all over the world.

DPS Director Steve McCraw highlighted the cruelty of human traffickers, who he says are “leveraging the gaps” as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents are having to take care of humanitarian issues rather than focusing on enforcement.

“What happens is young women from Central American and Mexico are lured to Texas on the promise of a service industry job or a nanny or some other job,” McCraw explained, saying some of the trafficking investigations have revealed facts that would “stain your soul.”

McCraw said traffickers sexually assault victims and find out as much information as they can about victims so perpetrators can threaten their families if they try to escape captivity.

“What people will do to mankind and to our most precious, the children, is just amazing, it’s just sickening,” McCraw said.

“Some of the most brutal things you’ve seen done to children happen in the U.S.”

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.