Monday, August 20, 2007

Georgia: Provision in Immigration Bill Targets Trafficking

ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- While immigrant rights groups loudly protested a broad new Georgia law that denies many state benefits to those here illegally, there is one provision buried within the legislation that they had quietly supported.

In a display of affection toward a law they had so bitterly opposed, many of the bill's most vocal critics gathered Thursday at the Latin American Association's Atlanta office to celebrate a provision in the bill that cracks down on human trafficking.

"Many of us had problems with the bill, it's terrible in many respects," said Stephanie Davis, a policy adviser for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. "But we fought hard for this portion of it."

Even critics couldn't help but cheer the portion that ramps up the penalties for those found guilty of trafficking people. It's partly because many of the victims are immigrants, said Alia El-Sawi, who heads the Georgia Rescue and Restore Coalition, a group that tries to help victims.

The law, which took effect in July, makes human trafficking a felony and sets a minimum prison sentence at 10 years. It also gives authorities more leeway to prosecute pimps and johns, lowering the standard they must meet to prove suspects are guilty...


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