AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation that would criminalize, under state law, misrepresenting a child as a family member at a border crossing.
House Bill 888, authored by Landgraf, seeks to combat human trafficking by making it a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly misrepresent a minor as a family member to a peace officer or federal special investigator at a port of entry. This is already a criminal offense on the federal level. If passed, this bill would give local and state law enforcement an additional tool in Texas.
“We must continue our efforts to secure our border and combat human trafficking, and this bill provides reinforcements in that fight," Landgraf said. “I appreciate that the idea for this bill was brought forth by a constituent from Odessa who put a great deal of research into helping craft this bill."
According to the Texas Attorney General, there are more than 75,000 minors in Texas who are currently victims of sex trafficking. The AG’s office reports these child victims are often tricked and coerced by their captors, being told, for example, they are going to Disney World. Therefore, when the opportunity arises for a child to speak up to authorities at a port of entry, they remain silent as their captor tells the customs officer the child is their son or daughter.
The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.