SPRINGFIELD – On Thursday, legislation carried by State Senator Erica Harriss (R-Glen Carbon) and State Representative Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) to help child victims of human trafficking heal and move on with their lives following their trauma unanimously passed the Senate. Having previously passed the House unanimously, House Bill 5465 will now advance to the Governor's desk for further consideration.

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House Bill 5465 builds on a law passed last year by creating an easier process for child victims of trafficking to have their juvenile records expunged or sealed as a result of any criminal acts they were forced to take part in while being abused.

Sen. Harriss, who carried the legislation through the Senate, said, “As a governing body, we have a duty to protect our children and pass legislation to help keep them safe. We must create pathways for victim survivors of human trafficking as they seek to recover from trauma endured to pursue the most normal life possible.”

Improving support for victims of abuse has been something personal for Rep. Keicher since joining the General Assembly, having had a family member who was abused as a child that tragically died due to a lack of resources to help victims recover.

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“Victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, especially children, represent our most vulnerable, and we need to do everything we can to help them through their recovery process,” said Keicher. “I believe one of the first steps in that process is ensuring their past doesn’t follow them around, and that’s exactly what HB 5465 helps us do.”

Having passed both chambers unanimously, Harriss and Keicher look forward to HB 5465 being signed into law by the Governor.

Harriss and Keicher also stressed how important it is to raise awareness about human trafficking by requesting that members of the media and public utilize the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888, to report any suspected trafficking taking place in our communities.

Senator Harriss serves the 56th District, which includes portions of Madison and St. Clair counties. For more information or to contact Sen. Harriss’ office, visit www.senatorericaharriss.com.

Rep. Keicher serves the 70th District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Kane, and McHenry Counties. For more information about HB 5465 or Rep. Keicher, visit RepKeicher.com.

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