New Life Refuge Ministries works to fight the horrors of human trafficking and to help survivors in South Texas.
By: Minta Moore
Photo by: David Olds
What is New Life Refuge Ministries, and what is it doing to combat human trafficking in South Texas and help survivors? New Life Refuge Ministries is a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to educate the public on domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), and that is working to build a shelter to help survivors. New Life Refuge Ministries speaks to the community and students in high school and junior high about the issue. In addition, it partners with many other organizations such as Traffick911. Through that partnership, it presents Traffick911’s “Traps of the Trafficker” curriculum twice a month to girls in the Juvenile Detention Center.
New Life Refuge Ministries is working to build a home of hope for the survivors. It will be a safe home-like environment where girls can heal from their trauma and learn their true purpose in life. The home will offer individual programs that will include counseling, life skills training, onsite schooling and many different therapies. A home such as New Life Refuge Home of Hope is paramount for the recovery of survivors. To further elaborate on the need for such housing in our area, on March 4, 2015, the Corpus Christi Police recovered a 15-year-old girl who was being sold out of a local hotel room on SPID. There was no safe place for her to go in the Coastal Bend to get the care she needed.
On April 17, 2015, the Celebration of Courage Gala will benefit New Life Refuge Ministries and its efforts to build the New Life Refuge Home of Hope. They hope you have the courage to support this event to help those who survive.
So let me ask: What do you know about human trafficking? Did you know it is modern-day slavery? Did you know it comes in many forms, including labor trafficking, organ trafficking, domestic servitude and sex trafficking? Did you know it is a more than $125 billion-a-year industry worldwide? Did you know it is the fastest-growing and second-largest illegal industry in the world, and that it comes in just behind illegal drug dealing? Did you know that the average age a girl is lured into sex trafficking in the United States is 12 to 13 years old? Did you know that one in three kids who run away will be approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of leaving home? These are all things that people are learning, as well as how to spot a victim who is often “hidden in plain sight.”
While human trafficking is not a new industry, it is just becoming more recognized. As a result, more victims are getting rescued. In addition, laws are being made to protect and better serve victims such as the federal Trafficking Victims Protections Act.* This bill needs your support. It has passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. Please let your senator know you think it is important that this bill becomes a law. Another bill in the Senate is bill 532, which would allow assets forfeiture in cases of human trafficking. In other words, anything being used to conduct human trafficking can be seized, and the assets can then go to the victims as compensation.
Know who you need to contact if you suspect someone is a trafficking victim. If the victim is under 18, it is mandatory by federal law to report the sexual exploitation. Report it to the Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888.
State Anti-Trafficking Legislation
HB 112, James White
Makes a murder committed in the course of human trafficking a capital felony, meaning the punishment is life without parole or the death penalty. Filed.
HB 188, Senfronia Thompson
Requires the local law enforcement agency, district attorney or county attorney that assists in the prevention of human trafficking to collect statistical data with respect to cases involving human trafficking or prostitution; and requires the human trafficking prevention task force to develop recommendations for addressing the demand for human trafficking. Filed.
HB 416, Debbie Riddle
Requires that personnel, including volunteers, of abortion facilities complete training on human trafficking. It also requires the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to make training available to everyone who is applicable. Filed.
HB 418, Gene Wu
Allows counties and/or municipalities to establish safe houses for minors who have been found to be victims of human trafficking and sets some standards for these safe houses. Also permits certain courts to enter findings in emergency, initial or adversary hearing to place minors in safe houses established under this bill if the minor is a human trafficking victim, and if it is in the child’s best interests. Filed.
HB 498, Ana Hernandez / SB 147, Jose Rodriguez / SB 352, Brian Birdwell
Adds human trafficking to the statute relating to violations of protective orders and/or bond conditions. Filed (HB 498); Referred to the Criminal Justice Committee (SB 147); Referred to the Criminal Justice Committee (SB 352).
HB 517, Joe Moody
Requires certain witnesses to provide testimony in human trafficking prosecution, provides immunity to the witness regarding the matters testified about and allows a conviction of human trafficking based on uncorroborated testimony. Filed.
*The Trafficking Victims Protection Act clarifies current law and codifies court decisions that the conduct of buyers who “solicit” and “patronize” commercial sex with a child are committing the crime of sex trafficking. Buyers of sex acts with children fuel the sex trafficking markets; without demand, traffickers will lose their profits and countless children will be spared the horrors of sexual exploitation.
For more information on New Life Refuge Ministries, visit www.newliferefugeministries.org.