(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today, Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord) introduced AB 2553, sponsored by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, which would establish the California Multidisciplinary Alliance to Stop Trafficking Act (California MAST). This bill aims to examine and evaluate existing programs and outreach for survivors and victims of human trafficking and provide recommendations to strengthen California’s response to supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable.
“California is home to some of the largest hubs for sex and labor trafficking in the United States, and it is beyond time our state takes the necessary steps in combatting this criminal enterprise,” says Assemblymember Grayson. “I thank the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking for their sponsorship of this bill as we work to prevent human trafficking now and into the future.”
Human trafficking is the exploitation of human beings through force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex or forced labor and is estimated to be a $150 billion a year global industry. Over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, our communities became more vulnerable to trafficking due to the suspension of regularly offered services. There was a significant rise in calls for urgent trafficking cases through the pandemic, leading to overburdened service providers unable to offer essential services due to the increased need. As a result, some survivors were re-trafficked, and many others were left without safe options for housing and employment.
“In my search for a better life, I found myself exploited by various individuals similar to other child trafficking survivors,” says Jimmy Lopez, Survivor Advocate for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. “Human trafficking is an invisible crisis plaguing our state and forcing thousands of children to grow up too fast; we must stop trafficking in its tracks, and we must hold offenders accountable.”
The California MAST task force will be comprised of select state agencies, survivors, and representatives from human rights and immigrant rights organizations whose main priorities are to evaluate the state’s progress in preventing human trafficking and providing support to victims and survivors. In doing so, the California MAST will be able to provide critical recommendations to strengthen state and local efforts to address the root causes that make individuals, families, and communities at risk of trafficking.
“California MAST is a huge steppingstone in addressing human trafficking in our state and supporting those who have been underserved for far too long,” says Leigh LaChapelle, Associate Director of Survivor Advocacy for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. “This important change in California law will provide the framework we need to create a future where we serve every survivor and abolish human trafficking all together.”
AB 2553 joint and co-authors include: Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas), Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), and Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton).
About the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (Cast) is a Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization working to put an end to human trafficking through comprehensive, life-transforming services to survivors and a platform to advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation. To find out more, visit www.castla.org or follow Cast on Twitter and Facebook.