A Democrat in the California Assembly has apologized for failing to back legislation that would hand down longer jail sentences to child traffickers. Assembly member Liz Ortega, who joined fellow Democrats in blocking SB 14 on July 11, said she made a bad decision and would “help get this important legislation passed into law.”
The bill had already passed through the state Senate, but all Democrats on the Assembly voted against it, causing its passage to fail. The legislation aims to designate child traffickers as “serious” offenders, meaning their punishments would be more severe. But Democrats said it would be used to target black people.
Republican state Senator Shannon Grove sponsored the bill and said she was shocked that Democrats rejected it. “I am profoundly disappointed that committee Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to support the bill, with their stubborn and misguided objection to any penalty increase regardless of how heinous the crime,” she said.
Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in and expressed his dissatisfaction with the result, prompting the Assembly to put the matter back on the table. On the second occasion, it passed, but with dissent from two Democrats.
The move came amid growing controversy surrounding child trafficking to the United States, much of it prompted by the surprise success of the movie Sound of Freedom. The film stars Jim Caviezel as Timothy Ballard, a former Department of Homeland Security agent who founded an anti-human trafficking organization. Left-wing and mainstream media outlets are condemning the film as a right-wing conspiracy theory and some have warned it risks taking right-wing themes to mainstream audiences.
Caviezel said it is “bizarre” that the media should take such a position. “I think that the left, these media outlets, they don’t want to have a discussion that this film is going to compel,” he said.
The movie outranked the latest Indiana Jones picture at the box office, and Donald Trump hosted a special screening at his New Jersey golf club on July 19.