SAN DIEGO — The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) and Equality California —co-sponsors of SB 357, the Safer Streets for All Act of 2021 — released the following statement in response to a group of San Diego County mayors who called for the law’s repeal Thursday:
“It is deeply disappointing to see a small group of politicians attempt to mislead the public about the causes of human trafficking and score political points off the exploitation of children. As leaders who have dedicated our lives to abolishing slavery and trafficking and protecting civil rights, we know that SB 357 makes our communities safer. Any claims to the contrary are dangerous and untrue.
“SB 357 helps to protect against racial and gender profiling and reduces the criminalization of survivors. It does not — nor would we ever support a policy that did — make it harder for law enforcement to hold traffickers accountable.
“In fact, the operation in San Diego County this week proves that law enforcement does not need to profile victims to identify and arrest human traffickers.
“Arresting potential victims of human trafficking will not make our communities safer; it will only further traumatize survivors and create barriers to employment, safe housing and the support services they need to begin to heal. Indeed, traffickers rely on our legal systems to criminalize victims so that they are unable to access safety due to their records and are vulnerable to continued exploitation.
“Survivors need safety and support, not handcuffs and a criminal record. Misleading the public about the root causes of human trafficking is an insult to these survivors and will never make our communities safer. We will strongly oppose any efforts to repeal SB 357.”
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org