Sandoval Voices WebSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) took steps to combat human trafficking Wednesday by voting to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Voices Act.

The bill would empower immigrant trafficking victims to come forward by protecting them from deportation if they help bring to justice the people behind these human trafficking rings. 

“These traffickers prey on underprivileged women and children, taking advantage of their fear of law enforcement to subject them to unthinkable atrocities,” Sandoval said. “The Voices Act is an effort to fight back and go after the real criminals – human traffickers.”

In 2000, the federal government began offering special immigration visas to victims of these types of crimes who cooperate with law enforcement. The goal is to encourage victims to work with police to bring their captors to justice.

Sandoval said the list of qualifying criminal activity applicable to the Voices Act includes abduction and kidnapping, blackmail, female genital mutilation, being held hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, murder, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trade, torture and trafficking.

Two years ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner enacted a law giving state assistance to these victims while their federal immigration paperwork is processed. The Voices act simply sets a deadline for law enforcement to wrap up that paperwork and submit it to federal immigration officials for consideration.

“This is needed because many local officials don’t file this paperwork and the victims are never considered for a federal visa,” Sandoval said. “All the Voices Act does is set a 90-day limit for that paperwork to be filed.”

The bill still allows authorities to determine in their report whether they believe the applicant qualifies for Voices Act protection or not.

“The governor supports this bill, but as November neared he tried to cozy up to our president’s rhetoric and chose to use his veto pen,” Sandoval said. “This was a mistake that the Senate has chosen to rectify. I urge my colleagues in the House to do the same.”

The Voices Act will become law if passed by the House at a later date.

Office Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 12th District
111 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
217-782-5304

District Office:
5807 W. 35th Street
Cicero, IL 60804
708-656-2002