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Rauner signs bill creating human trafficking task force

Gov. Bruce Rauner signs legislation to form a task force that must figure out how Illinois can best combat human trafficking. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner labeled human trafficking a form of “modern day slavery” Sunday as he signed two bills targeting on a statewide level the crime of forced sexual exploitation.

“This is going to be a long-term battle,” Rauner said during an appearance at the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. “But we have got to end this horrible crime, bring justice for everyone, stop — stop the abuse of our women and people who are vulnerable.”

Rauner then immediately signed a bill designed to bring together legislators, the director of the Illinois State Police and members of the Chicago Regional Human Trafficking Task Force. They will now form a larger task force that must figure out how the state can best combat human trafficking across Illinois.

The state’s task force is expected to deliver its findings and recommendations to the governor and General Assembly by June 30.

The governor’s staff said he also signed a bill that will provide medical assistance, starting in 2018, to foreign-born victims of human trafficking, torture and other serious crimes. That law will sunset June 30, 2019.

Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, said the National Human Trafficking Resource Center has identified nearly 30,000 human trafficking victims in the last decade.

“We can no longer deny that innocent lives are destroyed every single day,” McConnaughay said.