Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New panel targets human trafficking

Human trafficking is a crime that reaches a broad spectrum of victims — teenage runaways, the homeless, undocumented workers and even "kids who hang out at the mall every day," Mike Carroll, interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, said Monday at the first meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.

Many victims are also foster care kids who are under state care or have aged out of the state system and have nowhere to go, Carroll, the council's vice chair, said.

Florida has been ranked third in the number of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which estimates there are 27 million people enslaved worldwide.

"Four years ago, no one wanted to believe this existed," said Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has reached out to truckers, emergency medical workers, business owners, law enforcement and recently Mexican authorities to fight human trafficking. "It has to be stopped."

Bondi is counting on the new panel with law enforcement, health care officials, educators, advocates and experts to help fight the crime. The trafficking council, which Bondi chairs, was created during the 2014 legislative session to tackle specific goals in the human trafficking realm, including recommending programs and services to help victims; certifying safe houses and safe foster care homes; recommending ways to better apprehend and prosecute traffickers; and organizing a statewide summit.

Terry Coonan, a council member and executive director of the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, said he was encouraged by the qualifications of the group. "There's such high-level buy-in on this issue," Coonan said. "These are very committed members. We don't have to do a course in human trafficking 101. It's my hope they'll really take Florida to the next level."

Other council members are state Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong; Elizabeth Dudek, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration; Gerald Bailey, executive director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Christina Daly, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice interim secretary; Education Commissioner Pam Stewart; Martin County Sheriff William Snyder; Dotti Groover-Skipper, chairwoman of the Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking; Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring; Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami: Lee Lowry, former president of the Junior League of Tampa; and Springfield Police Chief Philip Thorne.

Dreamers chide Rubio

Dreamers showed up to Sen. Marco Rubio's office in Doral on Tuesday morning to protest his calls to end deferred action, the Obama administration program that has given legal status to hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth.

"Deport me, no way," they chanted. "Undocumented and here to stay."

The group carried signs, including a huge cutout of a flip-flop. Another depicted Rubio as a border patrol agent. And another accused him of breaking up families.

Rubio had once worked on a similar idea, based on the stalled Dream Act, as the deferred action program but never produced the legislation. He criticized President Barack Obama for doing it through executive action, so he says he's being consistent in opposition to deferred action.

He joined recent calls to end the program amid new attention to southern border crossings.

"My view is that after two years you haven't applied for (deferred action), you probably are not interested in the program," Rubio said in a recent interview with the Tampa Bay Times and other Florida reporters.

Obama is working on a plan that could expand deferred action.

New panel targets human trafficking 08/19/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The topic will be neighborhoods as Kriseman, Baker debate one more time


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, in a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the influential Council of Neighborhood Associations.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and former Mayor Rick Baker during a September forum. The two will will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, during  a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  2. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims


    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]
  3. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Editorial: UF can set example for free speech


    White nationalist Richard Spencer is bringing his racist message Thursday to the University of Florida in a legitimate, if utterly repugnant, display of the First Amendment at work. As a public university, UF has little choice but to allow Spencer's speech to take place. Now the university and the broader community has …

    By responding with peaceful protests and refusing to be provoked into violence, UF and the Gainesville community can provide a powerful repudiation of Richard Spencer’s hateful message.
  5. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance


    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.