Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) aims to protect and advance the civil legal rights of the millions of Texans living in poverty. Our advocacy efforts go beyond the courtroom. Every January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This year, LSLA joins the awareness effort by educating the community on their rights as well as providing information on available resources through virtual communication and community partner outreach. Ending human trafficking starts with awareness.

Advocacy efforts at LSLA

Unfortunately, the pandemic comes into play with trafficking and makes the spread of the virus a feeding ground. There has been an increase in COVID-19 pandemic related sex ads since the start of the pandemic. “Men are exposing themselves in the most intimate ways possible by coming into contact with COVID-19 and then returning to their families or their places of work,” Children At Risk, Senior Staff Attorney, Jamey Caruthers said. “We have cracked down on 1.6 million sex ads since the start of the pandemic.” (Reported in July 2020)

LSLA partnered with Children At Risk on Facebook Live to provide insight on the reality of human trafficking in our city and state. If you are interested in learning more about human trafficking, efforts to combat this crime, legislative changes, educational projects and COVID-19 impacts on human trafficking, please watch the video below.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, LSLA staff joined CHILDREN AT RISK for an educational bus tour presentation, sponsored by Locke Lord, LLP, on human trafficking where they were able to get a first-hand look at both where major trafficking incidents have occurred and where this crime may be presently occurring.

This informative event included a detailed presentation on the $32 billion worldwide industry and the statistics on the growing crime in Houston led by Caruthers. Participants, attorneys from local law firms, paralegals, state representatives, and Houston judges, left eager to learn more about what they can do in their community to put an end to human trafficking.

LSLA sex trafficking story of justice

Whether LSLA offers advice to clients or gives them extended services, our team of attorneys, paralegals, social workers, and communicators work with the client to ensure equal access to justice, to provide emotional support and to let their voices be heard. Our stories of justice platform is a full page of real stories told by real clients that have used LSLA’s services. These stories provide an outlet for crime victims to speak their truth and let our readers know that they are not alone.

The following story is written in collaboration with a client who got trapped in sex trafficking when she was just 14 years-old. LSLA’s Individual Safety Unit was able to get her a lifelong protective order for her and her newborn child. Read the full story here.

Local response and resources

In the Houston area, the Houston Police Department has its own Human Trafficking and Criminal Investigation Unit/ Harris County Sheriff’s Department has a Criminal Investigations Bureau which handles undercover investigations of human trafficking crimes.

If you live in Houston and would like to report a crime to Houston’s Crime Stoppers, please call 713-222-TIPS.

The City of Houston’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan lays out the nation’s first comprehensive municipal response to human trafficking. To access the strategic plan, please click the link. https://humantraffickinghouston.org/strategic-plan/

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: After contacting law enforcement, call the hotline at 1-888-3737. You can also text Help or Info to 233733. Or you can reach the hotline by email: Report@PolarisProject.org

If you or a loved one are a victim of human trafficking and need assistance, you can apply for free legal services by calling 1-800-733-8394 or by visiting our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.  For more resources, visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: media@lonestarlegal.org