Posted: 8/02/22

TAMIU Targets $1.1 M Federal Grant to Fund Center for Countering Human Trafficking 


Henry Cuellar
Congressman Henry Cuellar  

A new center at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) to conduct research focused on producing evidence-based curricula to help future educators and healthcare workers likely to encounter human trafficking victims in South Texas will be launched with a $1.1 million grant approved by the House Committee on Appropriations and awaiting final action by the full House.  A vote in Congress is expected after the August Recess.

TAMIU’s proposed Center for Countering Human Trafficking would be funded by Community Project Funding included in the FY23 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) bill.

The plan for the Center was shared by Congressman Henry Cuellar, 28th Congressional District, in a press conference at TAMIU Tuesday.  Joining Congressman Cuellar were TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz, The Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and University officials. Mayor Pete Saenz, Laredo Police Chief Claudio Trevino, Jr.   and Doctors Hospital Chief Nursing Officer, Chad Dunavan offered comments. 

Congressman Cuellar shared his confidence in the anticipated vote and praised the University’s vision in helping address the serious issue of human trafficking.

“We should have some good news on this very soon I really appreciate that TAMIU is taking the lead on this and marshalling its research and community strengths.  Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.  The work that TAMIU will do and the impact it will have for teachers and health care workers and others will be critical in bringing about a solution to the scourge of human trafficking,” Cong. Cuellar said.  

Chancellor Sharp shared the A&M System’s appreciation for Congressman Cuellar.

“Funding this effort to fight human trafficking has been a priority for Congressman Cuellar,” said Chancellor Sharp, “We are thankful for his enthusiastic support of our work to help train educators and healthcare workers, and eventually all first responders, to spot the signs of human trafficking.” 

Dr. Arenaz concurred, noting that TAMIU is in a unique position to facilitate border research.

“Regrettably, human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, and Laredo and various ports of entry across Congressional District 28 have seen the tragic consequences of this play out daily. This challenge begs data-driven investigation and research.  But this is what universities do, and TAMIU’s location, strong faculty research profile, long-lasting relationship with law enforcement agencies, and expertise in international commerce and trade provide us with a distinct advantage in conducting meaningful research which can help others.  We’re grateful to Congressman Cuellar and Chancellor Sharp for their keen support in driving this initiative forward.”  

Human trafficking is the primary area of research by the proposed Center’s principal investigator Dr. Claudia San Miguel, TAMIU’s dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.  She said the multidisciplinary approach of the Center further amplifies its research potential.

“The Center will deploy a multidisciplinary approach that marshals the faculty and research strengths of our faculty within the College of Arts and Sciences, A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and College of Education, alongside our Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development, and the Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade. Each brings distinct perspectives from business to education to health, and more,” Dr. San Miguel explained.

She said that approach will be further expanded by existing research strengths and collaborations with law enforcement agencies and related TAMIU programs.

“An additional strength will see us utilize faculty and researchers affiliated with our doctoral programs in Criminal Justice and International Business Administration.  We have long enjoyed close teaching and research collaborations with our law enforcement agencies, which will play a crucial role in our collection and research, and help craft evidence-based curricula that is timely and victim-centered.  Future educators and healthcare workers, who can often encounter human trafficking in their daily provision of duties, will be able to help our border community to deter, disrupt and dismantle human trafficking criminal networks,” San Miguel noted.

A vote on the Center’s funding is expected after Congress returns from its August Recess. 

TAMIU’s Fall 2022 Registration is now underway. For detailed registration information, visit https://news.tamiu.edu/fall22

Classes begin Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. Late registration ends Friday, Aug. 26.

University news and information can be found online at tamiu.edu and on TAMIU’s social channels on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Collaborators and partners in the proposed Center for the proposed TAMIU Center for Countering Human Trafficking join A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz, Congressman Henry Cuellar and Dr. Claudia San Miguel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.