New money fueling fight against human trafficking

Fight against human trafficking

SAN ANTONIO -- It's a problem endangering our children and families, now more than a million dollars will be pumped into San Antonio to fight human trafficking.

When you are driving around the city how often do you wonder what's happening in the car next to you?

"Could be someone whose life is going to be impacted or changed forever," said Miriam Elizondo, the Executive Director at The Rape Crisis Center.

Elizondo is talking about modern day slavery, aided by I-10 and I-35 cutting through the city, considered major corridors in the country for human trafficking.

"Everything is taken from them,” said Elizondo. “Their sense of safety."

It's one of the reasons The Rape Crisis Center and SAPD is receiving around $1.2 million to crack down on trafficking through a federal grant.

That money will be used for law enforcement, prosecution and focusing on the interstate. A push for more prosecution as many advocates are applauding the arrest of Backpage.com CEO, Carl Ferrar. Investigators say some of the ads are used for sex trafficking.

"Those who herald it as a big step forward don't know the full story," said Backpage lawyer Bob Corn-Revere Friday.

"Go after the people who are actually posting the ads and not to make it more difficult to track them down," he added.

The defense is the First Amendment and Communication Decency Act.

Revere-Corner said it protects the website's freedom of speech and from being prosecuted for a what a third party publishes.

At the same time, the lawyers said no system is perfect but that Backpage does screen through millions of ads for anything illegal, as well as encourage a user to report any questionable content.

Another number that stands out, The San Antonio branch of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services tracked 19 human trafficking cases in 2013, which jumped to 124 last year.

"Really coerced into this life," said Elizondo about victims.

Coerced since traffickers have been known to hang out near malls, movies and skate parks along with kids. Then using the same highways we do to move them. But instead of focusing on the fear Elizondo is focusing on, the new grant that brings new power.

"San Antonio is uniquely positioned demographically to make a difference in human trafficking," said Elizondo.

 

(© 2016 KENS)


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