Rep. Jesiel leads efforts against Human Trafficking

State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) spoke at an event at the Illinois State Capitol on April 28th that brought together more than 20 organizations that fight human trafficking to not only honor these heroes, but also to help them advocate for their cause. The event served as a means to increase public awareness of this terrible crime, to improve coordination between government agencies, law enforcement, and independent groups, and to honor the heroes who fight it every day.

“It is hard to believe that in 2015, in our country and state, that this terrible exploitation of human beings takes place right under our noses,” said Jesiel. “There is a human face to this crime – these victims are someone’s sons and daughters, sisters and brothers or parents, and their stories are heartbreaking. It’s time to raise awareness and partner together so we can rescue those who can’t rescue themselves.”

Jesiel has taken an active role legislatively against human trafficking and other issues relating to human exploitation this session. Her first major piece of legislation this year, House Bill 2822, creates the Human-Trafficking Task Force Act. The task force will examine the traumatic impact that human-trafficking is having in Illinois and offer solutions by June of 2016 as to how the state of Illinois can partner with other agencies to counter this surprisingly prevalent practice.

HB 2822, which passed the House and is now in the Senate, has gained the support of several Senators, including Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) and Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), who hosted the April 28th event.

The United States State Department estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States every year. While every state criminalizes at least some form of trafficking activity, legislators across the nation continue to explore new ways to combat traffickers and provide support for victims.