Readers Respond: Human Trafficking Awareness

August 17, 2023

New Orleans

Thank you for your thoughtful editorial on human trafficking (“Human trafficking isn’t someone else’s problem,” July 22). The people you quoted in your story are absolutely correct that human trafficking happens in our neighborhoods just as much as it does in faraway places. I was once at one of our parishes when someone asked why we were discussing human trafficking. I asked if the parish was near the river. When they replied in the affirmative, I said, “Then you have a problem with trafficking.” The same could be said for interstate highways.

I just returned from the Social Action Summer Institute in Atlanta, where our focus was on human trafficking. We heard from Theresa Flores, a trafficking survivor, as well as from leaders from Catholic Charities USA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the International Justice Mission. They all emphasized that human trafficking is much larger than we realize, and that we do not have solid statistics. They also differentiated sex trafficking from labor trafficking. We have both in South Louisiana due to tourism, major entertainment venues, plus the port and shipping industry.

When parishioners hear all this information or walk away from a movie like “Sound of Freedom,” they tend to want to take action right away, but do not know where to start and feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have really upped their game with the Blue Campaign, which draws attention to the issue, and can be found at the DHS Blue Campaign website ( Closer to home, we have Stop Trafficking Louisiana (, which was launched by First Lady Donna Edwards. These are some of the government resources available.

But how can I take action personally or how can my parish or school become involved?

Because much of trafficking takes place in restaurants, hotels and the retail industries, take time to do a little homework about how your purchases are sourced? Are they using union labor or sweatshop labor? How are the employees treated? Purchase Fair Trade goods whenever possible, and think twice about indulging in trendy materialism like fast fashion.

When a colleague of mine wanted to take a cruise with his wife, they spent hours evaluating various cruise lines to find out about how the employees were treated and about the cruise line’s carbon footprint. We can all be better informed consumers.

Read the full letter on The Clarion Herald.