At the Justice Coalition, we sincerely believe that legislation like CA Assembly Bill 262 represents a step in the right direction for survivors of human trafficking who have been coerced into committing crimes by those who enslaved and exploited them. We are grateful that Governor Newsom signed this bill into law and are so proud to stand beside Arien Pauls Garcia as she tirelessly advocates for change. Not only does Arien use her voice publicly but she also privately has helped dozens of pre-victim adolescent clients this year alone through our youth prevention programming.
Read more about the process of getting AB 262 passed and signed into law:
Sometimes people wonder why we, the Justice Coalition, get involved in advocacy in addition to education/direct service. There are many reasons behind our involvement in advocating for change relating to preventing human trafficking. For the sake of not going too far into tl;dr territory, here are the most important reasons.
Scripture calls us to use our voices for those whose voices cannot be heard. Proverbs 31:8 (NIV) says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Further, we see that God’s eyes are turned towards those who are oppressed.Psalms: 34: 15 – 18 (NIV) emphasizes that “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Systemic oppression requires systemic change. Helping one person at a time is vital work but it won’t prevent someone else from being exploited in the future. One reason why traffickers have thrived is that our laws have been slow to change in order to reflect new realities. New legislation is needed to confront evolving criminal activities that enslave the vulnerable.
In our system, elected officials are supposed to be accountable to the people who voted them into office. I get it, a lot of us don’t want to rely on the government to solve all of our problems. I hope that we all are doing something personally, individually to fight the evil of human trafficking. However, we need more than just individuals to combat modern-day slavery. Cartels and gangs are organized, powerful forces for evil. We need local, state and federal governments to get equally committed to fighting for justice. The reality is that we can’t solve this problem without the government, faith community, businesses, schools and community benefit organizations working together!
Advocacy usually involves getting government, business, schools, or some other large institution (also known as Goliath) to correct an unfair or harmful situation affecting people in the community (also known as David, and friends). The situation may be resolved through persuasion, by forcing Goliath to buckle under pressure, by compromise, or through political or legal action. – Prue Breitrose
As part of our new data-gathering focus, we are proud to have partnered with Fresno Pacific University’s Center For Community Transformation to submit a formal report to the new mayoral administration’s far-reaching Fresno Public Policy Initiative.
This data will provide a basis for the initiation of a larger scale, comprehensive study in this geographic area to encourage a cooperative sharing of organizational data among anti-human trafficking entities.
Chaired by Dr. Randy White and Jessica Pittman, the paper is the result of a working group established to advise the city on a key issue related to public safety: human trafficking.
Using data from 16 different anti-trafficking organizations, the report highlights best practices and makes recommendations for future city involvement and organization in partnership with Community Benefit Organizations and faith groups. Most importantly, this report recognizes the need to find uniform terminology and data collection methods that can allow for comprehensive data of the problem of trafficking. Solutions will be achievable as the scope of the problem becomes clear.
Great News from the California State Assembly: AB 1761 Affirmative Defense for Human Trafficking Victims passed out of the Assembly today with a 68-2 vote! On to the Senate!
More to be done:
We need one final push to make sure the legislature votes to support the $15 million budget request for specialized services to trafficking victims and sends this item to the Governor for signature.
To help the legislature know how important this request is we would like to send one final letter with signatures to show the overwhelming support for this measure. To sign onto this letter please click here. We need your help then inviting friends and family to do the same!
Some important points concerning the ordinance:
• According to Fresno Police Department, since 2008, massage establishments in Fresno increased from 30 to well over 200 establishments
• Visible indicators of potential human trafficking have been found in Fresno.
See our report on human trafficking in massage parlors
• The proposed ordinance was developed from one created by Polaris Project, the national organization that heads the Human Trafficking Hotline.(See the Model Massage Parlor Ordinance document on the Polaris Project website here)
HOW DOES THE ORDINANCE PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
• Requires visibility from the street to see into the massage
parlor, doors cannot be locked when open for business
• Operational hours are limited to 7am-9pm
• Extensive background information and certifications required for a city permit, including all employees to be registered with CAMTC (California Massage Therapy Council)
• No advertisements that suggest commercial sex
• Significant increase in fines and harsher penalties for
•not getting paid for their labor
•not free to change employers
•being controlled by someone else
•being forced to do something they don't want to do
•has been cheated into payment of debt upon arrival
You, he, or she may be a victim of human trafficking and eligible for free assistance.
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888 for more information. Or, text INFO or HELP to BEFREE (233733)
Contact us at 559.725.1865 for support, resources, and consultation. You can also contact the Fresno Police Tip Line at 559. 621.5950.