Governor urged to sign bill erasing records of sex trafficking victims so they can work


A police officer speaks with a victim of sex trafficking. Courtesy of the FBI

When Arien Garcia first escaped as a victim of trafficking, she struggled to find a job somewhere in Fresno.

His non-violent criminal record has always pushed his job seekers to the foot of the mountain. She applied for “All McDonald’s and Taco Bells in Fresno and Clovis” and said she went to an interview on the local subway on Christmas Eve.

“I wasn’t determined to have something that didn’t define my past, and I was rejected every time,” Garcia said. “It was very frustrating.”

But now survivors like Garcia have gained broad support among local leaders and have been able to help eliminate old non-violent convictions under the state’s proposed law.

On Tuesday, Garcia met with Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, House Representative Jim Patterson, Police Chief Paco Valderama and the Trafficking Assistance Group Breaking the Chains to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign. Legalize AB262..

The bill Patterson introduced to Congress will help quickly erase the non-violent criminal record of trafficked persons. It also eliminates the need to pay fees before a court hearing.

Looking for a job as a survivor

Today, Garcia is responsible for the youth program. Central Valley Justice Union.. But the road to employment has never been easier.

Under AB 262, survivors will be removed by local law enforcement and the State Department of Justice within 90 days of the judge’s order, rather than the current wait time, which can take up to a year. ..

Supporters said the year was too long for survivors who failed to pass a background check to get jobs.

According to the Central Valley Justice Coalition, Garcia is one of some 27 million victims of trafficking around the world. According to the report, more than 700 victims were identified and rescued between 2010 and 2018. Central valley for traffic..

So far this year, Fresno Police have investigated 52 cases of trafficking, 20 traffickers have been arrested and 59 trafficking victims have been released, according to Valderama.

During his tenure as the former police chief, Dier admitted that the department “got it wrong” and treated the trafficked woman as a suspect rather than a victim.

The department changed its approach after investigators spied on a local gang that trafficked women and learned the victims were at risk.

“Some of these young women want to go to school and volunteer because they have children, but their past has forbidden them to do so,” Dier said. “So today I urge the governor to sign this bill. “

Allow survivors to move forward

Support groups and local leaders say state law will have a significant impact on the daily lives of survivors of trafficking and sex trafficking.

Dominic Brown set out to break the chain when he wanted to get out of his previous life as a trafficked sex worker, but due to his pending charges in court, she was normal. It has become difficult to live a life.

She said she couldn’t volunteer or take a field trip to her daughter’s class due to her criminal record. Her daughter is now 10 years old and has a boy on the way.

Mr Brown said the ability to facilitate the process of erasing victim records would help victims move forward with their lives.

“I was able to volunteer at your daughter’s and children’s school. This is a big problem for me. I really wanted it, ”said the survivors’ advocate.

Mr Patterson said he was confident Newsom would sign the bill.

Garcia said the bill believed it had a ripple effect on improving communities, strengthening the workforce and ultimately giving hope to former victims. “It’s the first time in a long time.”

Melissa Montalvo is a reporter for The Fresno Bee and a member of the American Corps. This article is part of California Division, A collaboration between newsrooms investigating income inequality and financial survival in California.

Cal Matters Is a public service journalism company that strives to explain how the California State Capitol works and why it matters.

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