Rubio Introduces Bipartisan Bill For Human Trafficking Victims

Rubio Introduces Bipartisan Bill For Human Trafficking Victims

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
May 8, 2024

The modern-day slavery that is human trafficking takes many forms, whether it be sex trafficking, smuggling, or forcing victims to commit crimes on the traffickers' behalf. The third aspect of coerced criminality was the subject of a recent bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), which would expunge the criminal records of human trafficking victims forced to commit crimes.

Named the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, if a defendant convicted in Federal court of nonviolent crimes can adequately prove they committed the crime under duress as a victim of human trafficking, they will have their criminal records expunged.

According to a brief published by the National Institute of Justice, the extent to which human traffickers force victims to engage in crime remains unknown, and law enforcement is often inadequately trained to recognize when arrested offenders are victims of trafficking. As a result, these people face further victimization and are unable to reintegrate into society.

In Sen. Rubio's press release, Sen. Gillibrand called the phenomenon "absurd." Therefore, "This bill would help ensure that after escaping the horrors of human trafficking, victims do not also have to deal with criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and subsequent problems finding employment and housing. It will stop a vicious cycle that leaves survivors vulnerable to further exploitation."

Thus, while the NIJ advocated for improving the training of law enforcement to recognize when arrestees had committed their offenses under duress, Sen. Rubio's bill goes a step further.

As Rubio said, "We can uplift and provide relief to survivors by setting a new federal precedent that would allow them to live a life free from the repercussions of previous offenses incurred through coerced abuse. This important legislation would grant many survivors the opportunity to contribute positively to their communities."

Representative Kat Cammack (R-FL) had previously introduced a bill at the end of 2022, which she discussed at the end of this January with The Floridian. The bill would train law enforcement, especially officers of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), to recognize human trafficking victims.

As Rep. Cammack described, her 2022 Human Trafficking Awareness Act "allows for the facilitation of training programs for law enforcement and first responders, which is a big gap right now because it is basically like you are just trying to respond in the moment."

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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