Remarks by OVC Director Jessica Hart at the Texas Business Against Trafficking Conference
Office for Victims of Crime Director Jessica E. Hart joined Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs at the 2020 Texas Business Against Trafficking Conference. Director Hart spoke about the instrumental role that the business community plays in combating human trafficking and the Department of Justice's commitment to investigating and prosecuting offenders and serving victims of this terrible crime.
JESSICA E. HART: Thank you for inviting me to say a few words today. I'm truly honored that Secretary Hughs asked me to participate in this event.
Last month I had the pleasure of meeting with Secretary Hughs to discuss creative solutions to combating human trafficking, along with the Texas Businesses Against Trafficking. I also had the opportunity to meet with a number of Office for Victims of Crime grantees in Houston and Austin to hear about effective public-private partnerships in combating human trafficking.
As the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, fighting human trafficking is one of my highest priorities, and I have learned that one of the greatest allies in this fight is the business community. Collaboration with businesses yields real results and is a key piece in the battle to end trafficking.
Public-private partnerships are something my office will be looking at more closely this year. We will be implementing a new program to increase access to employment opportunities for human trafficking survivors.
As you all know, human trafficking schemes do not exist in a vacuum; they depend on legitimate industries to recruit, transport, house, and exploit victims the business community is instrumental in the fight to eradicate human trafficking.
My office is the largest federal funder of services for human trafficking victims in the United States. We recently announced approximately $100 million in funding to combat human trafficking nationwide, including $5 million that is going directly to organizations in Texas. Over half of that $5 million will go to collaborative, multidisciplinary task forces that are essential to identifying victims and investigating and prosecuting traffickers. In addition, Texas will also receive over $163 million to support victims of crime, including human trafficking victims, throughout the state of Texas.
Texas has made incredible progress in the fight to end human trafficking. Since 2016, OVC-funded Texas task forces reported initiating over 1,400 sex and labor trafficking investigations, and human trafficking program grantees in Texas reported providing services to over 28,000 victims. We know there is still much more to do and I am confident this funding will be put to good use.
Combating human trafficking is a top priority for the Department of Justice. As a fellow Texan myself, I'm encouraged to know that it is also a priority for the Texas business community.
Thank you, Secretary Hughs, for your incredible leadership and to all of you in the business community for everything you do to combat human trafficking.
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