For too many survivors of human trafficking in New York, the fight for freedom does not end with breaking free from a trafficker. That’s because most survivors have arrests and convictions on their records for crimes they were compelled to commit while being trafficked. As a result of these records, they are blocked from jobs and educational opportunities, eligible for deportation in some cases; ineligible to rent safe, affordable housing. In other words, they are not truly free to rebuild their lives.
In 2010, New York became a leader in supporting survivors, passing the nation’s first law allowing survivors of human trafficking to vacate prostitution-related convictions. But the law, though valuable, left out countless survivors of labor trafficking and sex trafficking who were forced to commit other kinds of crimes. For example, traffickers often force people under their control to commit drug or gang-related offenses or to carry false documents.
These bills will also make it easier for all survivors of human trafficking to have their records vacated and move on with their lives.