Posts Tagged ‘human trafficking’

Women Bought and Sold

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

El diario

The premier Spanish-language newspaper “El Diario” turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell for regular updates on immigration reform.

Learn this week in El Diario – and below — about the grotesque reality of human trafficking.

By C. Mario Russell

March is filled with days that should be considered so much more than Hallmark holidays.  It has been designated as Women’s History Month; March 8th celebrated International Women’s Day and March 25th is marked as an International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery. These are important dates designed to recognize the woman for her profound place in the human community and to remember in solidarity the deep wounds she bears at the hands of that community.

Yet these wounds continue, particularly in the world of immigration.

For example, we soon will come upon another important marker: the one-year-anniversary of the mass abduction of 276 schoolgirls by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria when, according to Human Rights Watch, children were taken into captivity and sold into marriage, forced to convert from their religion, and made to endure physical and psychological abuse, forced labor, and rape.

Unfortunately, there are other examples as well that are far too close to home. Evelyn, 21, a top ranked student in her native country, was lured from Cameroon into the U.S. by a rich Maryland couple who promised her a bright future and a top-rate education. Instead, she was given no education and forced into servitude for the wealthy couple. And just this January 2015, Cristina Andres pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial sex trafficking. She was prosecuted for recruiting two girls, ages 13 and 17 at the time, with promises of a job in a Nashville restaurant. Instead, she used physical force and threats against the victims and their families to keep the girls in brothels in Memphis and Nashville.

The market for buying and selling of humans is sophisticated and robust, and only occasionally do publicized scenes like these force us to enter into its grotesque and brutal reality.


Congress Debates Immigration Reform; Catholic Charities Focuses on Dignity of Work

Friday, July 12th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities has long helped victims who have undergone the horrendous humiliation of human trafficking regain their dignity through one of the most basic of human activities, work.

We now extend our Dignity of Work program to those waiting to be certified as victims of human trafficking as well as certain crime victims who hold U-Visas.

Those eligible receive:

  • Employment preparation services, including employment readiness classes
  • Resume assistance
  • Mock interviews
  • Financial resources for employment training
  • Social services

Finding work in the U.S. can be hard, and many immigrants and refugees are drawn to America for the opportunity to better themselves. Catholic Charities helps those who want to be employed, but find it difficult to know where to start.

Catholic Charities agencies can help refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants and victims of trafficking develop a resume, learn a skill, practice interview skills, and learn how to search for a job. They can also set up job interviews through a wide network of employers who have come to rely on the good judgment of our staff in matching employment needs with qualified workers.

At Catholic Charities NY, in any given year:

  • 2,176 families provided with expert counsel and safeguarded from exploitation
  • 28,332      calls for help answered promptly with accurate information in 18 languages
  • 478   breadwinners helped to obtain authorization to work
  • 324   immigrants reunited with their families
  • 457   individual refugees resettled
  • 72    immigrants taught English and civics
  • 42    asylum seekers provided with legal representation

Dignity of Work is an initiative of the Anti-Trafficking Program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Do you need help?  Call our New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS).

Good Friday – A Commemoration and a Call to Assist Victims of Today’s Crucifixions

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Photo Credit: Sr. Marylin Gramas, S.U.

By Alice Kenny

At the largest public Christian peace witness in New York City, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York Director of Justice and Peace Thomas Dobbins stood with Sr. Maureen Jerkowski, a member of the Lifeway Network of Religious Against Human Trafficking, as she read at the Catholic Charities of New York-sponsored Tenth Station of the Cross; Jesus is Stripped of His Garments, on Good Friday, March 29, 2013.

More than 500 people joined with them at this thirtieth annual Good Friday Way of the Cross, a modern-day enactment of the Stations of the Cross, to pray for peace and justice on the streets of New York.   The walk began at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th Street at First Avenue) and proceeded along 42nd Street to Ninth Avenue.  Participants were encouraged to reflect on “How do I do for others what Jesus is doing for me? How am I called to live in this world?”

Catholic Charities and the LifeWay Network chose the tenth station of the cross to raise awareness of human trafficking.  LifeWay Network’s mission is to provide safe housing for survivors of human trafficking and to offer educational opportunities for the general public.  Catholic Charities helps immigrants reunite legally with their families, obtain proper work authorization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass citizenship exams. The organization also assists immigrants, non Catholics and Catholics alike, to avoiding exploitation by unscrupulous practitioners by providing correct information and realistic counsel about immigration status.

The Good Friday Way of the Cross is organized each year by Pax Christi Metro New York, a regional section of Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace.

“The Pax Christi Good Friday Way of the Cross has become an important part of my Good Friday observance over the past few years,” Mr. Dobbins said.  “It helps me to remember that Good Friday is not only a commemoration of events that took place 2,000 years ago, but more importantly is a call for us as Christians and people of good will to reach out and assist the victims of today’s crucifixions – the poor and the marginal, victims and refugees of war and violence, trafficked persons and others in desperate situations who don’t know where to turn – that, through our services, we at Catholic Charities seek to assist not only on Good Friday, but every day.”