SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, is raising awareness of human trafficking while continuing her work to combat crime across Illinois.
“Criminals involved in the involuntary trade of human beings for money, what we call human trafficking, have been allowed to carry on their horrific practices in Illinois for far too long, and it’s time we put a stop to their crimes,” Hernandez said. “Make no mistake, human trafficking is slavery by another name, and I will continue fighting to end its existence in our communities until Illinois is free of this problem.”
Hernandez is calling attention to human trafficking during Human Trafficking Awareness month, and in response to the growing problem affecting Illinoisans. 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.
Hernandez has already taken steps to combat the problem with her support of Senate Bill 1890, a new law that is now effective, which 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.
“Keeping our community safe from crime, whether in the guise of human trafficking, gun violence or the opioid crisis, is my first priority,” Hernandez said. “Building a stronger Illinois starts with building a safer Illinois, and my work as a public servant reflects that.”