Raúl Torrez | Attorney General

Attorney General Balderas, Representatives Louis and Thomson Applaud House Passage of Bill to Strengthen Protections for Victims and Survivors of Human Trafficking

For Immediate Release:
February 22, 2021
Contact: Matt Baca — (505) 270-7148

Santa Fe, NM—Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas and Representatives
Georgene Louis and Elizabeth Thomson applauded the New Mexico House of
Representatives for passing House Bill 56, which is aimed at modernizing New Mexico’s
anti-human trafficking laws to center and protect the rights of human trafficking victims
and survivors, particularly children who are trafficked in the State. The bill, which was
passed unanimously by the House of Representatives during the 2020 legislative session,
passed the House by a vote of 63-3 and will now move onto the Senate.
“Human trafficking is one of the most violent crimes in our society, and our laws are
severely outdated and do not protect the interests of those who are subject to this horrific
abuse,” said Attorney General Balderas. “I am grateful for the leadership of
Representatives Louis and Thomson, as we fight to ensure to end the scourge of human
trafficking in New Mexico.”
Representative Louis added: “House Bill 56 seeks justice by helping the most vulnerable
and holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions. Native Americans make up 11% of
New Mexico’s population but account for a quarter of trafficking victims. This session is
ripe to get this bill passed.”
“The crime of human trafficking may seem invisible for many, but this horrendous crime
is all too common and it leaves deep and lasting damage on its victims,” said
Representative Elizabeth Thomson. “With this legislation, we are working to aid the
victims and the law enforcement officials who are seeking justice against human
traffickers, and passing these much-needed reforms will be a real step forward in ending
human trafficking in New Mexico.”
House Bill 56 strengthens New Mexico’s laws against human trafficking, especially for
trafficking a minor. The bill:
• Brings New Mexico’s anti-human trafficking statutes in line with national standards
to ensure that a trafficker will be held accountable for their isolation of a victim
or suvivor from sources of help and the creation of dependency in them;
• Expands safe harbor provisions so that survivors of trafficking will not be criminally
liable for forced prostitution;
• Incorporates protections against the exploitation of a victim or survivor’s sexual
history or history of commercial sexual activity and reputation evidence of sexual
conduct as not having bearing on whether a victim or survivor has been
trafficked;
• Clarifyies that a minor cannot consent to being trafficked for sex;
• Makes individual acts of trafficking clearly and separately punishable under the
law;
• Makes human trafficking an underlying offense to racketeering so that New Mexico
law enforcement may investigate and prosecute traffickers that operate as a
criminal enterprise;
• Requires that traffickers forfeit any ill gotten gains from trafficking other human
beings;
• Increases the statute of limitations for prosecuting the crime of human trafficking,
as victims and survivors are often conditioned by their trafficker to distrust police,
are discouraged or threatened from reporting their crime, or are isolated from
means of help;
• Establishes that human trafficking is a serious violent offense under New Mexico
law;
• Updates the Notification of Crime Victims Act to ensure that human trafficking
survivors, who are currently not given the same rights of notice and an
opportunity to confront their abusers like other survivors of violent crime, are
given the same rights, and that children are afforded the same;
• Makes human trafficking a registerable offense under New Mexico’s current Sex
Offender Registration Notification Act;
• Increases the basic sentence for a human trafficking conviction, which current New
Mexico law punishes less severely for trafficking a person than trafficking a
controlled substance.
The full text of House Bill 56 and other information about it can be found here:

Bill Finder – New Mexico Legislature (nmlegis.gov)

Raul Torrez

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