Welcome to the CRLN website

Welcome to the homepage of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN).  The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) stands in solidarity with those oppressed by poverty, violence and exclusion in this hemisphere working together for the respect of human dignity and empowerment of all peoples.  An interfaith network of individuals and communities, CRLN equips and mobilizes religious leaders, communities and individuals to advance peace, justice and human rights in our hemisphere.

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Want to sign up? Email shunter-smith@CRLN.org with "E-digest subscription" in the title.

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CRLN Response to President Obama's Executive Action Announcement

Last night, President Obama announced an executive action that will provide an estimated 4.4 million immigrants temporary relief from deportation.

Under the President’s actions, age-caps for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be expanded to cover for an additional 300,000 people, protections under DACA will be renewable every three years (previously two), Secure Communities will be discontinued, and Deferred Action will be extended to certain parents of United States Citizens and Legally Permanent Residents. For more detailed information on administrative action, please click here

Yesterday’s announcement is a testament to the hard work of pro-immigrant organizations across the country, particularly that of undocumented-led community groups which have fought for these gains through courageous, daring, and, oftentimes, unconventional tactics.

The Chicago Religious Leadership Network (CRLN), a network of over 50 congregations and religious communities across Chicagoland, is committed to participating in the “IL is Ready Campaign.” Through this campaign, member congregations will be providing information sessions on the President’s executive announcement and working to provide legal assistance sessions once applications become available. 

While we take a moment to celebrate this hard-earned victory, as people of faith, we also remember what our sacred texts have taught us: every person matters and is sacred. 

There are nearly 12 million undocumented peoples living in the United States. Yesterday, the president reminded us that we were all once strangers. Today, we remind him that principles of our faiths mandate us to love all of our neighbors, including those who do not meet the specified eligibility criteria. Minister Steve Van Kuiken, Senior Minister of Lake Street Church, a sanctuary congregation in Evanston, Illinois stated, "we celebrate the fact that millions of immigrants will no longer live in constant fear of detention and deportation. We will continue to offer sanctuary because there are still millions of other immigrants who live and work in this country still facing the threat of deportation, workplace exploitation, and the constant fear that their families will be uprooted or torn apart."

Faith calls us to be thankful for yesterday’s actions, but faith also requires us to continue to remain steadfast in our commitment with the undocumented community. While the protections offered by the President are long overdue, these actions are not enough. As people of faith we call on our elected officials, our President, and our Congress to take into account full human stories, to act with forgiveness and redemption, and to allow all undocumented immigrants who contribute to their communities to apply for temporary relief.  As we take a moment ourselves to recall this, today the CRLN reiterates its commitment to continue to apply pressure until the day comes when there is #Not1More.

A Big Win for Beatriz! Sanctuary Movement Gains Momentum as Deportation Order Removed in Chicago

Beatriz Santiago Ramirez shed tears of happiness as she took her first steps outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission where she has been in Sanctuary for the last eight weeks, taking refuge from a final order of deportation.  "This is a joy for me.  I never thought this day would come so soon...to be able to get to know the streets of Chicago." 

Days earlier, Attorney Juan Soliz informed Beatriz that her deportation case had been re-opened and her visa application will be considered.  Beatriz is likely eligible to remain in this country under provisions granted through a U-visa-a special nonimmigrant Visa established for victims of qualifying crimes-due to her courageous testimony against a rapist who attacked her in Madison County, IL in 2009.  That visa application had been previously derailed because the local law enforcement agency had failed to provide an updated certification form.

Join us! CRLN's 2014 Annual Luncheon with Karla Lara

Join CRLN & Honduran artist, feminist & journalist, Karla Lara for our 2014 Annual Luncheon, 

Un Pueblo Que No Calla: 

Voices from the Resistance Movement in Honduras

November 6th, 2014, 12:00PM-2:00PM

Old St. Pat's Church, 700 W Adams


ARTISTS: If you want to join the event but tickets are prohibitive, contact Sharon at SHunter-Smith@crln.org.


Karla Lara's tour will celebrate the resistance movement in Honduras since the 2009 U.S.-backed coup & create spiritual space that inspires social movement through art & song. Grounded in a feminist perspective, Karla will lift up la lucha - the struggle - against militarization, political violence & attacks against social movements. Gather with us to celebrate el pueblo que no calla, the people who will not be silenced!


Ending the Trade Embargo Against Cuba

The 50-year-old, unilateral, U.S. Trade Embargo against Cuba - known in Cuba as the Blockade - has long been denounced by the United Nations, the World Council of Churches, the Vatican, the Catholic Bishops of Cuba, and the Cuban Council of Churches. CRLN has joined in their call to end the embargo for over 2 decades. 

The presidents of ALL Latin American and Caribbean countries are on record as opposing the U.S. trade embargo.  They have also made clear that they will not participate in the next Summit of the Americas - a bi-annual initiative of the U.S. - if Cuba is again banned from participation as insisted by the U.S. in the past. 

Now, two New York Times editorial highlight why the embargo should end, and how Cuba has won world recognition for its major contribution to global health care, most recently highlighted in its response to the Ebola crisis. Check them out!

Obama Should End the Embargo on Cuba
New York Times:  Editorial Board - October 11, 2014

Cuba's Impressive Role on Ebola
New York Times: Editorial Board - October 19, 2014 


Pedal for Peace raises $16,376 for solidarity projects!

53 bikers, some accompanied by children, turned out on September 28 to ride in the 2014 Pedal for Peace Bike-a-thon.  The day was sunny and warm, with beautiful vistas of the city and Lake Michigan along the Chicago Lakefront Bikepath.  Collectively, the group raised a total of $16, 376 to be divided among 5 Chicago area organizations and CRLN to support health, education and community organizing projects in Latin America and Chicago:

*Pedal for Peace contributes funds used for scholarships for 5 college students in rural Cinquera, El Salvador, through Chicago-Cinquera Sister Cities.

*The event raises money that contributes to scholarships for 83 middle school and 16 high school students in Saq Ja', Guatemala, through the Chicago-Guatemala Partnership.

*Through La Voz de los de Abajo, Pedal for Peace proceeds are directed to a free hosptial for Garifuna people in Honduras and to a small farmers' organization to organize for land rights.

*Rural health promoters in African-descended and Indigenous communities in Colombia are trained with Pedal for Peace funds through Concern America.

*Pedal for Peace's newest participating group, the Immigant Youth Justice League, will help fund Organized Communities Against Deportations as they provide services to immigrant families whose members are facing deportation.

The remaining funds will support CRLN's work to stand in solidarity with those oppressed by poverty, violence and exclusion in this hemisphere, working together for the respect of human dignity and empowerment of all peoples.  A portion will support scholarships for students in Chacula, Guatemala, a community of returned refugees accompanied by CRLN Board member Martha Pierce, who leads a delegation there each year on the anniversary of their return. 

Sanctuary Movement Taking Off in Chicago and Nation

"Sanctuary is important work for faith communities that seek to expose the inhumanity of our immigration laws"

- Rev. Julian DeShazier of University Church, member of Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition

When Beatriz Santiago Ramirez sought Sanctuary at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, she knew she needed help fighting her deportation.  She now finds herself in the midst of a national resurgence which is exploding on the national scene.

Local Links: Sign a petition to stop the deportation of Beatriz Santiago Ramirez; and read articles: Sun Times print and video, Fox News Latino, and Univision.

National links: http://www.sanctuary2014.org/ Read about how the movement is exploding across the nation, and how you can participate.  Read articles in Think Progress, The Wall St. Journal, and Slate.

Chicago Fair Trade GlobalFest: Latin America

11/14/2014 - 5:30pm
11/14/2014 - 9:30pm
Chicago Fair Trade's annual benefit, GlobalFest: Latin America, will be held on Friday, November 14 at 5:30 pm at the National Mexican Museum of Art. Come celebrate as CFT shares fair trade stories from their CFT businesses who work in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, El Salvador, Argentina, and México. There will be heavy appetizers, fair trade wine and cocktails, local craft beer, and a fabulous silent auction!

Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Chicago: How You Can Help

Chicago Religious Leadership Network has taken a leading role in developing an interfaith pastoral care ministry with the unaccompanied migrant children in Chicago.  With your help, we can provide protection and a measure of peace in their young lives.  Here's what you can do:

Protect the Laws that Protect Children

1. Call your Congressional Representatives and ask for their support to maintain protections under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).  This crucial law, signed by President Bush, provides protections for the most vulnerable among us. 

2.  Write a Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed piece in your local newspaper.  We can help.

Pray for the Children.  Connect Your Worship Experience to Ours

1. Invite your congregation to use our colorful "floating prayer candles" during worship. For a template and instructions, see the attachment below.

2. Sing "This Land Is Your Land" in your worship, and plan to join the combined choir at our Oct. 12 event (below).

SOA Vigil Update

You may have already heard about the most recent efforts by the Columbus Police Department to limit this year’s Vigil. CRLN joined the efforts of the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and other organizations to write to Police Chief Ricky Boren with a clear message: we will not stand for this repression of our constitutional right to free speech! The Columbus Police Department received a large number of letters from organizations and longtime participants, and have agreed to proceed in negotiations with SOAW so that the Vigil will still go on. It is one of the largest convergences of peaceful protest in the US. This is not the first time the Columbus Police Department has tried to stop participants from exercising their rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but SOAW, with the help of its legal team, has always prevailed. CRLN encourages our members to attend the Vigil this November 21-23!