Human trafficking topic of Hispanic conference

ELYRIA — The 15th annual Hispanic Leadership Conference will be Saturday, featuring a Mexican-American human rights activist talking about human trafficking.

Presented by the Coalition of Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress, the annual celebration will be at the Spitzer Conference Center, Lorain County Community College. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served, and registration is still available by calling Michael Ferrer, conference co-director, at 989-1178.

Enrique Morones, founder and president of Border Angels, is the keynote speaker. He was born in San Diego, Calif., to Mexican parents and has citizenship in both Mexico and the United States.

The Border Angels is a group of volunteers who work to prevent the deaths of people crossing the border from Mexico to the United States.

Crossing the border is just the first step for many journeys, Morones said.

“The border is just the place they cross, it’s not where they stay,” he said. “The demand for workers and drugs takes people far from the borders. The U.S. is the No. 1 consumer of illegal drugs in the world. The demand is the issue, which creates the organized crime. The undocumented workers are victims of criminals who are bringing them here.”

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray will be the conference’s special guest, and he will join Morones in discussing human trafficking.

Cordray’s office released a report in February showing that one in three Ohio runaways gone for two weeks or longer is at risk of being trafficked for sex. More than 1,000 Ohio children from 12 to 17 years old have been trafficked into the sex trade, according to the report.

Panel discussions will cover human trafficking and critical issues in Latino health. Workshops lasting 55 minutes will offer insights into problems such as identity theft, sexual predators on the Internet, art as a catalyst for change, new laws requiring new birth certificates for people born in Puerto Rico, the 2010 census, how to budget in a recession and a dance workshop on Argentine tango.

A preconference reception will be at the Elyria Holiday Inn at 6:30 tonight, featuring a dance presentation, art exhibit and opportunities to meet conference speakers.

A gala will be Saturday night after the conference at the Lorain Party Center, 2501 Leavitt Road, with dinner, music and dancing.

Sponsors of the conference include State Farm Insurance, The Morning Journal, The Cleveland Clinic, Lorain County Community College, Lorain City Schools and the Community Foundation of Lorain County.

For more information, call 989-1178, or visit