SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, is cracking down on the spread of human trafficking by passing tougher punishments on businesses profiting off of the practice and funding training programs for police and hotel employees to identify and combat it.
“We have to banish human trafficking from Illinois,” Hernandez said. “People forced into years of servitude, held hostage by the threat of violence and worse; these are the terrible results of human trafficking. It’s not just the offenders committing these crimes, but other people and businesses who profit by allowing it to happen that deserve punishment.”
Hernandez helped pass Senate Bill 1890, an extensive bill which combats human trafficking on several fronts. First, it creates a training program for all law enforcement agencies in Illinois to ensure they are ready to recognize and fight the problem. Next, it extends the statute of limitations for adult human trafficking to 25 years. Finally, it establishes penalties of up to $100,000 for any businesses that benefit from human trafficking or other types of involuntary servitude.
The bill also creates the Lodging Establishment Human Trafficking Recognition Training Act, which requires hotel business owners to hold regular trainings for employees to recognize and report signs of human trafficking.
Since 2007, 4,578 incidents of human trafficking have been reported in Illinois, with likely tens of thousands more occurrences that did not reach the authorities. The Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research compiled a comprehensive report on human trafficking across the county and concluded that the hospitality industry was one of the largest employers of victims of human trafficking. A 2018 Illinois government task force on the subject also identified education programs for law enforcement and hotel workers as critical steps in ending this problem.
“These measures do not only punish those guilty of looking the other way, they help educate people who need to know what to look for,” Hernandez said. “While law enforcement has to have greater training here, hotel workers are another group that have to be educated. We cannot allow the perpetrators of human trafficking any shelter to commit their terrible crimes.”