Bill introduced to prevent human traffickers from holding a CDL
BERRIEN COUNTY —
A South Dakota senator is pushing a bill to help put a stop to human trafficking.
It would prevent someone who's convicted of human trafficking from holding a commercial driver's license.
This bill was introduced right before a semi was found in Texas loaded with undocumented workers, struggling to survive.
More than a hundred people were found in the back of that truck. Nine of them died from heat strokes or heat injuries.
Cathy Knauf, with the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, says this is one step in bringing awareness to the issue.
"It's such a globally big issue. It's the second largest criminal activity in the nation and people are still saying, does it happen here? It happens everywhere. And yes it happens here,” said Knauf.
She says rest areas are where truck drivers come in contact with those being trafficked.
"One of the things that happened with the profession of truck drivers is that there is often sex going on in places like a truck stop. Or a rest stop or a bus station or something like that. This would help curb that,” said Knauf.
Because studies show human trafficking at rest stops, Marilyn Galvan started a label program to make sure victims have a way to ask for help.
"Our label is a stop sign. It has eight edges where the person can read the information inside and then taking the edge and call when it's safe to do so,” said Galvan.
The program started with two rest areas in Brighton. Now, they're located at 34 rest stops throughout Michigan -- including the Watervliet rest stop in Berrien County.
They're still waiting for data on how many victims have called from rest stops. Galvan has been keeping track of nine of those locations. She says two to four tabs are taken each day.
“There's a 10 to 25 percent chance that a woman going in a bathroom a rest area bathroom stall in Michigan that she will take an edge,” said Galvan.
People throughout Michigan adopt these rest areas and volunteer to replace the signs every month. That program is heading to Ohio and possibly five other states.
Knauf says because there are more truck drivers than police officers they can also help stop the trafficking. There is a truck drivers against trafficking organization.
You can adopt a rest area near you by contacting Marilyn Galvan at firstname.lastname@example.org