Newsom Signs Legislation that Enables Perpetrators of Human Trafficking

Today Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 357, a soft-on-crime measure advocated by California Democrats that will hinder California’s ability to combat human trafficking. All members of the Senate Republican Caucus formally requested a veto of the measure in this veto letter.

The new law will remove a tool frequently used by law enforcement to identify victims of sex trafficking by legalizing loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution, as well as let individuals off the hook who are directing those intending to engage in prostitution.

In his signing message, Newsom even acknowledged this possibility, by saying his administration will “monitor crime and prosecution trends for any possible unintended consequences and will act to mitigate any such impacts.”

Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R- Santa Clarita) released the following statement in reaction:

“Democrats supported, and this governor signed, a law that’s removing tools to combat human trafficking. California is a hub for this crisis – our government should be doing everything it can to combat it, not enable perpetrators. Newsom’s veto letter says it all – he’s going to ‘monitor unintended consequences.’ Perhaps he and the majority party should flush that out before passing and signing laws in the first place.”

The measure was opposed by multiple law enforcement and victims groups, including the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) and the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

Attorney General Bonta’s website on human trafficking says that perpetrators have become more sophisticated and organized, therefore “requiring an equally sophisticated response from law enforcement.” Instead of giving law enforcement more tools to combat this serious issue, California Democrats instead voted to hinder law enforcement’s ability to combat human trafficking.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the law this bill overturns was used “to target sex buyers who seek to exploit," and a repeal will “take a major tool away from law enforcement” when it comes to combatting this issue. Similarly, the Peace Officer’s Research Association of California (PORAC) said, “this bill would further hinder law enforcement efforts to not only identify and prosecute those who commit crimes related to prostitution and human trafficking but also hinder the ability to identify those being victimized.