The Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking met in San Antonio Tuesday morning to discuss problems related to local human sex trafficking.
"Texas has done a great job at putting very harsh laws on the books for criminals...mandatory felonies for those who would use and sell children for sex. But what we are lacking for particularly our domestic, our U.S. citizens that are runaways, are the services, the places, and the shelters once they are rescued. What do we do with these folks who are trying to put their lives back together?," said Texas Senator Leticia Van De Putte.
The committee expressed concerns that there is a lack of funds and services available for domestic victims, while there is legislation that exists to provide help to international victims.
"The number one problem were seeing is that we've got funds and services available for international victims of human trafficking, but for U.S. Citizens...for those teenagers that are runaways, the person that is abusing them is not their family member and so they don't fit into the custody of child protective services," said Van De Putte.
The committee is looking to establish shelters, or safe places where these victims can go for help and healing.
"You've heard that they have terrible health status. A lot of them have addiction problems on their own. They are drugged by their abusers to have sex with men, and they feel guilty about that," said Van De Putte.
Members of the committee are working together to draft possible legislation that would help victims of sex trafficking get this help by next year's legislative session.
"They can't get medicaid, because they don't have a stable place to live yet. They can't access services, because nobody is going to pay for them. Those are the things that this committee is going to focus on, it's what can we do to help the survivors?"