PHOTO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Reintroduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Clear Human Trafficking Victims’ Criminal Records
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner (MO-02) and Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) in reintroducing the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act today. The bipartisan legislation would create a process for victims of human trafficking to request relief from non-violent federal crimes committed as a direct result of human trafficking.
Today, January 11, is recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery affecting millions in the United States and abroad. This crime involves either the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for labor or commercial sex, or the exploitation of a minor for commercial sex. As a result of being trafficked, victims are commonly charged with crimes such as conspiracy, money laundering, drug trafficking, and related offenses that then follow them throughout the duration of their lives. These charges make it difficult for human trafficking victims to find jobs and housing, leaving them vulnerable to being exploited and trafficked again.
“Tens of thousands of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking each year. Too often, they are charged as criminals, thrown in prison, and shackled with a criminal record the rest of their lives instead of being free to get the care and assistance they need. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act will empower human trafficking victims to escape the chains of their past and move forward with their lives,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
“Because of the complexities of the criminal activity around trafficking, victims are put into situations where they may be forced to engage in other criminal acts due to their abuser. Even though they are victims of human trafficking, under current mandates, their “criminal history” can make it very difficult for them to recover and reintegrate back into society. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act is an important key to opening the door of freedom, helping to erase the past, and empower life recovery and forward movement for the most marginalized and vulnerable population in our communities,” said Jessica Munoz, President and Founder of Hoʻōla Nā Pua.
“As an organization committed to implementing strategies and providing services that help rebuild the lives of human trafficking survivors, we believe the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act will support these uprooted individuals to reclaim dignified lives," said Dr. Tin Myaing Thein, Executive Director of the Pacific Gateway Center.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks with survivor leaders and advocates on the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act
The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would allow survivors of human trafficking to provide supporting documentation in order to get their non-violent criminal records vacated. These documents can include the following:
- Certified criminal or immigration court proceedings or law enforcement records demonstrating that the individual was a victim of trafficking at the time they were charged with the trafficking-related offense(s);
- Testimony or sworn statement from a trained professional staff member of a victim services organization, an attorney, member of the clergy, a health care professional, a therapist, or other professional from whom the person has sought assistance in addressing the trauma associated with being a victim of trafficking; or
- An affidavit or sworn testimony of the movant indicating that they were a victim of human trafficking at the time of their arrest and that they engaged in or were otherwise accused of engaging in criminal activities as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking.