State officials to discuss human trafficking

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, left, talks with Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, right, prior to a hearing to discuss human trafficking along the Texas border, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in La Joya, Texas. The panel is dicussing the distinctions between unaccompanied immigrant children entering the U.S. illegally and human trafficking victims who get assistance from state programs. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, left, talks with Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, right, prior to a hearing to discuss human trafficking along the Texas border, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in La Joya, Texas. The panel is dicussing the distinctions between unaccompanied immigrant children entering the U.S. illegally and human trafficking victims who get assistance from state programs. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

LA JOYA, Texas (AP) — Members of a Texas legislative panel are parsing the distinctions between unaccompanied immigrant children entering the U.S. illegally and human trafficking victims who get assistance from state programs.

Officials estimate about 57,000 unaccompanied immigrant youngsters have entered the U.S. illegally since last October.

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek testified Thursday before the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking at a field hearing in the border town of La Joya.

Janek says his agency’s programs serve those with legal status as refugees, an asylee — as in someone granted asylum — or those who receive other government certification.

Human trafficking concerns the movement of people for purposes of exploitation, often sexual- or labor-related. Most immigrants recently crossing the Texas border do not meet that definition.

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