County supervisors pass new initiative to combat human trafficking in San Diego

EMBARCADERO (KUSI) – January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and San Diego County is taking new steps to combat the growing issue. An initiative proposed by Vice Chair Nora Vargas passed unanimously on Tuesday that will direct resources and attention to combat trafficking. San Diego County ranks among the highest regions in the nation with human trafficking amounting to 8,000 victims every year.

“As policy makers, we have the chance to find holistic ways to combat trafficking by addressing its root causes,” Vice Chair Vargas said in a virtual press conference Tuesday. District Attorney Summer Stephan praised renewed efforts by the County to address the issue.

“Human trafficking is both a human rights violation and just the most grotesque form of modern-day slavery,” Stephan said.

The plan is a collaborative effort between leaders and human trafficking advocacy groups like Free to Thrive, which provides legal services to survivors of trafficking. The organization’s President and Managing Attorney, Jamie Beck, explained what the resolution outlines.

“It suggested that the County establish a peer support navigator program for human trafficking survivors, and a strategy to coordinate victim-centered, trauma-informed and culturally-competent services for survivors,” Beck said. “It also outlined enhanced educational efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking and get stakeholders involved in the process.”

Programs to support survivors, coordination resources, and educating the public about the warning signs of trafficking are cornerstones of the County’s approach to the problem. One-on-one peer services were underscored as the most effective way to allow survivors to connect with the help they need.

“They could go to Free to Thrive for legal services. Some of our partners for housing and medical, mental, social services and someone consistent helping them through all of these services,” Beck said.

The County will have to report back in 180 days on the progress made and the steps taken to carry out the plan. You can read more about the resolution here: 

To connect with Free to Thrive or learn more about the organization, click here:

KUSI’s Hunter Sowards was live outside the San Diego County Administration Building with more details.

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