While Democrats and the liberal media continue to deny a crisis exists at the southern border, Texans come face to face with atrocities in our border region on a daily basis. Now, one West Texas lawmaker has introduced legislation to equip state law enforcement to combat the trafficking of children across our southern border.

Defined as the “exploitation of men, women, and children for forced labor or sex by a third-party for profit or gain,” human trafficking is called modern-day slavery. According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, at any given time, 79,000 children are enslaved by human traffickers in the State of Texas alone.

In early January, the White House addressed this issue specifically, noting that in just the past two months, federal agents have caught 538 “adults who illegally crossed our border with kids who are not their own.”

While misrepresenting the identity of a minor is a crime at the federal level, Texas has no law specifically prohibiting adults from attempting to fraudulently pass off kidnapped children as their own. State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R–Odessa) has filed House Bill 888, which would establish an equivalent state criminal offense and equip state law enforcement with an extra tool to help combat human traffickers.

In a statement to Texas Scorecard, Landgraf wrote, “This bill would give local law enforcement a critically helpful tool in Texas. We must continue our efforts to secure our border and combat human trafficking, and this bill provides reinforcements in that fight.”

The prevention of child trafficking was one of the reasons cited by the Trump administration for the federal policy of separating children from adults apprehended at the border until their identity and relationship could be established. “Catch and release” policies promoted by Democrats would result in some children being released into the custody of kidnappers posing as the child’s parent or guardian.

Meanwhile the media downplay the seriousness of the crisis — even denying the crisis exists, altogether — while the open borders policies of the radical left continue to leave children at risk.

A report from the Heritage Foundation on human trafficking notes that once asylum-seekers clear an initial credible threat interview, they are regularly released into the country to await a court hearing; giving those criminals who use asylum policies as a shield ample opportunity to disappear. The report claims that some 39 percent of asylum-seekers failed to show up to their court hearing in 2016.

Traffickers exploiting mass migration and asylum loopholes is a problem that is not unique to the United States. A 2016 report by The Guardian noted that in Europe, human traffickers also exploit the immigration process, resulting in the disappearance of nearly 10,000 children admitted as asylum seekers.

In a Fox News opinion piece published earlier this week, a former Homeland Security Special Agent argued the main tool needed in the fight against human trafficking is a border wall. In pointing out that the United States is one of the highest consumer markets for trafficked children, the article states: “We do these traffickers a great favor by leaving our border virtually wide open.”

State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) noted earlier this month that last year 300,812 illegal aliens were apprehended on the Texas border, with 224,485 coming from countries other than Mexico.

With people from all over the world arriving at the southern border, both state and federal officials need to have as many tools as possible in the effort to combat the tidal wave of criminal activity.

Matt Stringer

Matthew Stringer is from Odessa, TX and serves as a West Texas Correspondent for Texas Scorecard.