Recent Amendments to and Expansion of California’s Vacatur Law Benefit Victims of Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Assault

On September 22, 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 262, which amended PC 236.14, California’s Vacatur law. PC 236.14, which went into effect January 1, 2017, allows any person who “was arrested for or convicted of any nonviolent offense committed while he or she was a victim of human trafficking” to petition to have records of those arrests sealed and records of those convictions vacated. This law has been crucial in addressing the criminalization and stigma that follow survivors even after they escape their trafficking situation and in helping improve access to housing, employment, financial support and other resources that are essential for survivors as they work to move forward with their lives. However, PC 236.14 as originally written created some unnecessary challenges for survivors seeking relief; AB 262 sought to remove some of those barriers.

 

The following highlights the key amendments to the law:

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Six Principles of Trauma-Informed Practice

Within a trauma-informed response, there are six guiding principles, rather than a prescribed set of practices or procedures, that are applicable across multidisciplinary settings.

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Cultural Humility within Trauma-Informed Lawyering

Many aspects of trauma-informed lawyering, in which the practice of cultural humility falls under, is often generalized as “good lawyering.” Recognizing and responding to the client’s feelings of anxiety, clarifying legal processes the client will be dealing with, and advocating for appropriate rights and protections are all examples of good lawyering but can also be great examples of being trauma-informed. 

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Passport Inadmissibility Ground for T Visa Applicants and Holders

There are 2 different inadmissibility grounds for lack of passport: one for nonimmigrant applicants and one for immigrant applicants under INA §212(a)(7)(A) & (B).

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CAST Free T Visa Resources

New to the anti-trafficking field or T visas or just need to brush up? CAST has put together a robust and free list of resources for you to file effective T visa applications. Be sure to view our e-learning courses and review our practice advisories, as well! When you watch one of our e-learning courses and pass the accompanying self-assessment, you gain access to our Box drive with hundreds of samples and practice advisories on comprehensive legal remedies for trafficking survivors, from immigration to victims rights and restitution!

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