Capitol Alert

Bill would open confidential address program to human trafficking victims

A month after authorities arrested nearly 500 in a human-trafficking sting operation, California officials are moving to make victims of such crimes eligible for the state’s confidential address program.

Senate Bill 597, by Sen. Connie Leyva and sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, would expand access to the existing Safe at Home program administered by his office that’s currently open to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Padilla said Safe at Home gives victims a free post office box and mail forwarding services so they can start new lives in peace and safety. “It can be not just helpful, but critical for victims of sex trafficking or human trafficking to escape their circumstances and move on to a better life,” he said.

Leyva, a Democrat from Chino, has previously carried human-trafficking related measures, and said she was approached by Padilla to take another step toward wrangling what is considered the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise.

“This very much spoke to me,” she said of the idea. “It’s one more way to protect some of our vulnerable folks in society.”

The arrests in last month’s sting came after a three-day operation by 30 law enforcement agencies across the state.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago