A legislative bill signed into law Friday by Governor Susana Martinez will help victims of human trafficking get cash, emergency housing and other assistance. The new law takes effect July 1 and it also provides benefits and services for victims like child care, legal, and food assistance. Representative Gail Chasey and the nonprofit New Mexico Women's Agenda worked to develop the bill. Attorney General Gary King’s office prosecutes cases against human traffickers. He says his staff collaborates with the FBI and foreign law enforcement officers to identify potential victims, including those from Latin America, who are targets of pornographers lurking on the Internet.
“You know we want to continue to improve our efforts in New Mexico – both our efforts as law enforcement but also our efforts to reach out to the public and get them to recognize human trafficking as a crime and particularly to help us identify the victims, because victims of human trafficking don’t self-identify. They’re normally afraid to go to the police and so we have to search a little bit harder for those victims to get them out of their situations.”
The victim assistance law appropriates $474-thousand of state funding and also enables human trafficking victims to sue the person or persons who subjected them to forced labor or sex, and to get health care, drug screening and job training.