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House Republicans say Illinois not doing enough to prevent human trafficking

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(The Center Square) – Illinois House Republicans are introducing legislation to shore up the state’s response to human trafficking.

State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, said the anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope International recently gave Illinois an “F” grade for its current laws to address the problem.

“Of the six metrics that they use to grade a state’s efforts to protect victims of exploitation and support their recovery, Illinois only receives one passing grade of B for prosecuting abusers,” Keicher said. “That means we have a lot of work to do.”

Shared Hope International’s annual report card gave Illinois failing grades in the areas of continued care for victims, training for those in law enforcement, and prevention.

Keicher has introduced House Bill 5465, which would make it easier for child victims to have their juvenile records expunged or sealed for criminal acts they were forced to commit while they were a victim of trafficking. He said the problem is personal for him as he had a family member affected by human trafficking.

“She became a statistic, someone whose abuse and lack of support for resources put her down a path of drug use that caused her death at a far, far too young of an age,” Keicher said.

State Rep. Jennifer Sanalitro, R-Hanover Park, has introduced House Bill 5469, which would allow for victims to get an order of protection from their traffickers. She said human trafficking is not a far away problem.

“It happens everyday and in every corner of our country, and it sickens me that we are still not at a point where it has been eradicated completely,” Sanalitro said.

The Illinois Department of Human Services has created the Trafficking Enforcement Bureau to combat exploitation.

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