LIGHTHOUSE POINT, FLORIDA — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed four bills to combat human trafficking, raise awareness of the signs of human trafficking, and impose critical reforms to hold human traffickers accountable in the state of Florida.
“Biden’s Border Crisis is exacerbating human trafficking across the nation – 72 percent of all human trafficking victims are illegal immigrants and 60 percent of unaccompanied alien children crossing the border were caught by cartels and exploited for drug trafficking, or worse,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
The governor said that while the federal government continues to ignore those who are suffering due to its failed policies, Florida continues to take action. The bills signed today will better protect vulnerable children, ensure businesses are taking steps to identify and eliminate trafficking and give victims a way to fight back against their abusers.
“Governor DeSantis is a strong leader in our fight to end human trafficking and rescue victims," said Attorney General Ashley Moody. "I am proud to fight alongside him as we strengthen laws to stop human traffickers and help survivors heal.”
Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, who sits on the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, said traffickers are not welcome in Florida.
“We have enacted significant measures to ensure Floridians are not being subjected to this heinous crime,” Nuñez said. “As Biden fails to secure our border, Governor DeSantis continues to step in to protect Floridians.”
Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Shevaun Harris said the department stands ready to enhance outreach and amplify messaging on how to report the signs of human trafficking.
SB 7064, Human Trafficking, supports victims of human trafficking and strengthens penalties for human traffickers by:
- Establishing a civil action for victims against traffickers and allowing victims to recover damages and attorney’s fees from adult entertainment establishments.
- Allowing seized property from a trafficker to be sold and paid to victims as restitution.
- Requiring adult establishments to verify the identity and ages of all employees or risk a third-degree felony.
- Requiring offenders of prostitution, lewdness or related acts to attend educational courses.
SB 1690, Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking, expands human trafficking awareness programs and increases human trafficking victim support by:
- Cracking down on repeat violators of human trafficking awareness requirements and imposing daily fines for subsequent violations.
- Requiring residential treatment centers for children to post signage warning children about the dangers of human trafficking.
- Mandating the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking to conduct a study and make recommendations regarding the regulation of adult safe houses.
- Ensuring security measures for safe houses and safe foster homes.
- Requiring safe houses and foster homes to give kids age-appropriate educational programming on the signs and dangers of commercial sexual exploitation.
The governor also signed HB 1465 and SB 1210 which make human traffickers eligible for mandatory minimum sentences when they possess or discharge a firearm during the course of their crimes and makes victims’ pleadings and documents confidential and exempt from public records requirements.