Assemblywomen attempt to help trafficking victims

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, District 38 speaks to the crowd after being sworn in at Oak Hills Elementary School in Valencia on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, and co-author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, have introduced Assembly Bill 629, which seeks to help human trafficking victims rebuild their lives.

Cosponsored by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and Bet Tzedek Legal Services, AB 629 would make human trafficking victims eligible to receive compensation from the California Victim Compensation Board for income that was lost while they were forced into the abhorrent situations victims often experience.

“We must demonstrate our commitment to victims’ recovery by ensuring fair and equal access to compensation for loss of income,” Smith said in a news release. “Human trafficking victims bear the scars of their trauma for a lifetime. These resources are an important tool in supporting a better future for them.”

Last year, Gonzalez introduced AB 900, which served as the predecessor legislation to AB 629.

AB 900 passed with unanimous support from both the state Assembly and Senate, but it was vetoed by the governor because of the stated “over-committed funding source” of the crime victims’ fund.  

Smith noted in Tuesday’s release that both the federal and state crime victim funds are currently operating with a surplus.“The nightmare these victims face does not end when they are rescued,” Gonzalez said. “This measure will make sure the thousands of Californians who were enslaved by human traffickers can get the resources and support they need to become strong, independent members of our community.”

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