The Brief: The Texas Tribune presents Sold Out

More than a decade’s worth of initiatives — empty laws and hollow programs — have failed to protect Texas' most vulnerable youth from being trafficked for sex. Today, The Texas Tribune launches Sold Out.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called sex trafficking "one of the most heinous crimes facing our society" at a recent press conference. Estimates suggest there are 79,000 child victims of sex trafficking in Texas.

Editor's Note: If you'd like The Brief in your inbox every weekday, sign up here.

Tribune today

What you need to know

More than a decade’s worth of initiatives — empty laws and hollow programs — have failed to protect Texas' most vulnerable youth from being trafficked for sex. Today, The Texas Tribune launches Sold Out — an investigative project that explores how the crusade against sex trafficking in Texas has left child victims behind.

  • This week, we'll explore the stories of several sex-trafficking victims: Jean, Lena, Yvette and Sarah. What happened to them is often called “modern day slavery." Texas has done little to help these or thousands of other victims.
  • We'll explore the foster care pipeline that leads children to sex trafficking. A slow-burning crisis in the child welfare system leads many kids to turn to pimps for shelter, food and love. 
  • Next week, we'll answer your questions. On Feb. 21, join us on Reddit for a discussion about the project with a former special investigator who spent more than a decade tracking down foster care runaways and investigating sex trafficking.
  • Want to get the project in your inbox? Sign up for updates here.

News from home

Help us report on sex trafficking in Texas: Over the past five months, The Texas Tribune has investigated the hidden world of sex trafficking. Now, we want to hear about your experiences.

Ask Texas Tribune journalists Neena Satija, Morgan Smith and Edgar Walters about our investigation into sex trafficking in Texas by joining us for a Feb. 21 Reddit "Ask Me Anything" chat with a former child welfare investigator. 

What we're reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $) 

House Speaker Paul Ryan scheduled for McAllen visitThe Monitor

Trump reviews top White House staff after tumultuous start, Politico

TEA visits Marshall ISD to look at failing campuses, other areas of concern, The Marshall News Messenger

Not all GOP lawmakers in state Senate sold on 'school choice' bill, San Antonio Express-News ($)

Texas voter ID law would have prevented 16,400 from voting in November, The Austin American-Statesman ($)

Castro to reveal plans for possible Senate run against Cruz in 8 weeks, The Austin American-Statesman ($)

For your calendar

Join us in person or online for a conversation with U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, at The Austin Club this morning. 

Save the date: The Texas Tribune Festival is back for 2017! Join us for a weekend of Texas politics, policy and much more on Sept. 22-24 at UT-Austin. For a complete list of upcoming events, visit our site.

Photo of the day

Pimps send their victims to "walk the track" on a stretch of Bissonnet Street in Houston. Anti-trafficking efforts in Texas have focused more on putting pimps in prison than rehabilitating their prey. Photo by Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"I can’t tell you how often I have met people seeking help who never envisioned living in poverty. They’re used to helping others, not seeking help. Life happens, whether it’s a lost job, an accident, health event, death, broken-down car or other crisis. We don’t realize just how close we all can be to financial ruin."

— Jay Trainor, a retired social worker, about Texas cutting funds for the poor, elderly and disabled via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email thebrief@texastribune.org. We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.