SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, is combatting human trafficking by passing stronger penalties for those benefiting from the practice and increasing training to help law enforcement professionals and hotel workers to identify it.
“Human trafficking is a horrible practice and we can’t allow it to go on in our communities,” Halpin said. “People trafficked in are captive for years of servitude to work off an impossible debt; often under threat of danger to them or their families. Far too many people and businesses are profiting from exploitation and that needs to come to an end.”
Halpin helped pass Senate Bill 1890, which is now law. The law 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 owners hold regular trainings for employees to recognize 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.
“My goal is to build a stronger Illinois, and that can only happen if communities are safe for everyone,” Halpin said. “Law enforcement needs training to fight trafficking and people who might witness suspicious behavior need to know what to look for. We can only solve this problem if everyone involved is educated on how to do their part. This bill will help get rid of any shelter traffickers have and bring them to justice.”