Perhaps now more than ever, immigration appears as the subject of popular attention and discourse. Widely and across partisan lines, a consensus exists that the mass surge in unaccompanied minors, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, traveling across Mexico and into the United States poses a "humanitarian crisis" of an unprecedented nature and magnitude. Although it's true that sheer numbers and statistics-a 90 percent spike in the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border with the current estimate of unaccompanied minors in detention standing in the 50,000 range and predicted to reach 90,000 by the end of the year-make the current situation outstanding, there are many things that are not new about this crisis.
Too much of the current discussion is treating the issue at hand as either one of unprecedented and unimaginable, therefore also unforeseeable and unmanageable, proportions or as a sorts of "administration-made" crisis produced by a combination of parental irresponsibility, the spread of rumors and misinformation regarding U.S. immigration law, and, finally, a supposed encouragement prompted by "lax" enforcement policies and "generous" asylum and immigration systems.
This past Saturday, June 28th, CRLN joined La Voz de Los de Abajo, Radios Populares, & other Chicago-area Honduras solidarity organizers to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras. We made stops at different symbolic sites in downtown Chicago and spoke about the struggles in Honduras and the powers of imperialism that put violent regimes in place throughout our hemisphere.
Stop #1: Community Garden at Congress & Michigan
Commemorating: The campesino struggle & violent repression of land rights activists
Land moguls and multinational corporations have been dispossessing campesinos and working communities of their land in Honduras for decades (and centuries, for that matter). Yet since the coup in June of 2009, the violence against campesinos and land rights activists in contested territories has dramatically escalated, leaving 150 campesinos dead and more struggling against the terror and threats of violence.
We put a plant in the ground to recognize the need for land rights, food sovereignty and an end to the violent repression of campesino communities by Honduran security forces and paramilitaries working for private capital.
Honduran LGBT Leader Nelson Arambú brings an Update from the Struggle for LGBT Rights in Honduras
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
7:00 - 9:00 PM
Where: Berger Park Cultural Center (overlooking Lake Michigan)
6205 N. Sheridan, Chicago
(3 blocks east of the "Granville" Red Line el stop)
Info: 773-209-1187 / LGBTliberation@aol.com / www/gayliberation.net
Sponsors: Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action (ALMA), Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN), Gay Liberation Network, Orgullo en Acción, and La Voz de los de Abajo.
What's at Stake: On June 28, 2009, the democratically elected President of Honduras, Mel Zelaya, was illegally overthrown in a by the Honduran military in the middle of the night.
National Organizing Effort Results in Powerful Statement against Political Violence & Impunity in Honduras
At the end of last November, 13 CRLN members - including 3 staff and 3 board members - traveled to Honduras to serve as election observers. Despite widespread evidence of institutional fraud, Juan Orlando Hernandez - popularly known as JOH or Juan Robando - became president on Honduras in January. JOH was among the original coup plotters that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras in 2009. On a more hopeful note, the newly-formed party of the coup resistance movement, LIBRE, won the second-largest number of seats in the Honduran Congress.
In May, Honduras Solidarity Network - HSN (to which CRLN belongs) worked with U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky (to whom CRLN presented a 20th Anniversary human rights award at its 2010 annual membership luncheon with Honduran Jesuit priest Fr. "Melo" Moreno) to initiate a Congressional sign on-letter to Secretary of State Kerry to raise renewed human rights concerns about Honduras. The letter (enclosed) highlighted the murders of indigenous leaders, a land rights activists, and members of the LGBTQ community. It also condemned the physical attack on LIBRE party members within the halls of Congress and their supporters by the new Honduran Military Police, which was created by JOH.
Sunday, October 12th: 3-5PM
Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (303 Dodge Ave. Evanston)
Last week and over the weekend, CNSC leadership attended a community organizing training led by seasoned organizer Imelda Salazar of the Southwestern Organizing Project (SWOP). Of special value and appreciation were Imelda's instruction and direction on the relational concept of one-to-one meetings, an organizing tools meant to help us assess the social justice passions of the peoples we work with in our relentless fight for immigrant justice. The opportunity to practice one-to-ones with one another and to peek into the core of one another's inner driving forces was truly a remarkable gift! As we took the time and effort to learn a little more about one another, our personal backgrounds, and our varying work, it became clear how complex and multivariate, but also complementary and intersecting, our work as individuals and as Immigrant Welcoming Congregations is.
More often than not we become too absorbed in our own individual projects and efforts. We forget about the larger networks and communities of which we are graciously a part of, and we forget to celebrate our collective efforts, victories, and aspirations. For this reason, our gatherings--wherever and whenever they take place--are of a special value and purpose. It is in these space where we come together to praise our work, unity, and ministries, where we acknowledge, for example, the work and effort of IWCs that partake in supporting intefaith ministires, halting family seperations and stopping individual deportation cases, and the remarkable and brave work of IWC congregations taking on projects such as the offering of sanctuary.
On June 10, 2014, long-time CRLN member John Fish died after a full life dedicated to ministry, teaching, mentoring and community organizing. We remember him as someone who organized his own congregation to declare sanctuary and house Guatemalan and Salvadoran fleeing death squads in the 1980's to challenge the US policy of turning them away at the border instead of offering them asylum. He then organized a Southside Chicago network of sanctuary congregations, was one of the founders of the Chicago Metropolitan Sanctuary Alliance and then of the Midwest regional network of congregations offering sanctuary.
John was someone who thought systemically and globally and acted locally. He combined in-depth analysis of social injustices with an ability to inspire others to get involved in dreaming up positive solutions and working to make them real. The students he mentored often cite him as the reason they made major changes in their lives-deciding to live in the city, or working to change US policy on Latin America.
The following is the obituary written by John's family:
In May, five members of University Church visited the rural K'iché Mayan community of Saq Ja', Guatemala. The congregation has had a 15 year partnership with the community since soon after the end of the 36-year civil war. Initiated by Virgilio Vicente, born in Saq Ja' but relocated in Chicago after receiving death threats during the war years, the partnership has helped the congregation understand better the role of the US government in funding and training the Guatemalan army that targeted and destroyed over 600 Mayan villages and brutally massacred children, women and men in the 1980s.
The congregation has also accompanied the people of Saq Ja,' after they returned to their village and began piecing their lives back together, to learn just how much effort it takes for a community to recover from a war. As a sign of our desire to help rebuild what funds from our government had helped to destroy, we raised funds for various projects named and planned by the community, partially through the Pedal for Peace Bike-a-thon (started by the Chicago Metropolitan Sanctuary Alliance and continued by CRLN after the two organizations merged) held every fall in Chicago.
We have witnessed over the years Saq Ja's efforts to rebuild and improve its infrastructure (houses, church, schools, water system, corn grinding mill, latrines) and have been impressed by their dedication to providing their children with education. This is priority number one in Saq Ja'...and the Guatemalan government does little to facilitate the process. The national government provides free education for children through sixth grade, but teachers are poorly paid and, especially in the rural and Mayan areas, funds often arrive late. Teachers end up teaching without pay until the government finally gets around to disbursing funds. Facilities are often not large enough for the numbers of children enrolled, and there is little funding for school materials.
The movement for immigrant rights is visible everywhere: the pressure on Congress to break the gridlock has not let up, while President Obama is increasingly on the defensive for his record-breaking deportations. The Not One More Deportation Campaign has successfully changed the national dialogue through highlighting families caught in a broken system. Massive civil disobedience actions happen weekly across the country, and congregations are once more providing sanctuary to immigrants.
You can be a part of history-in-the-making! Find out more on our conference call:
6pm conference call every second Monday of the month
Dial-in Number: 1-712-432-3011
Conference Code: 658720
Please RSVP at CNSC Monthly Conference Call
Tito Moreno is a valued member of Iglesia Unida UCC in Berwyn, IL. He migrated from El Salvador in 1980 and has been passionately and actively involved in the fight for social and immigrant justice ever since. Below is his reflection on the 2014 May Day march.
Tito Moreno, on the upper left corner, alongside fellow CNSC representatives (left to right) Sidney Hollander, Tina Escobar, Gwen Farry, Carol Cook, and Liz Castillo.
The 2006 immigration walks were one of the most impacting experiences I've ever had. Indeed, so much so that I haven't stopped marching since. Participating in marches gives me great inner pleasure and satisfaction. I especially enjoy the May Day marches because they are an opportunity to commemorate hardworking people everywhere. In the May Day marches, one sees sisters and brothers of many varying races, languages, nationalities, and faiths. Workers and immigrants all are all present--some demanding a living minimum wage, others an end to deportations, but everyone knowing that together "Yes we Can!" Every time that I see such a diverse group of people gather, I'm convinced all our efforts and hopes are not in vain.
I thank God that I have been able to march since 2006. Thanks to God, I've had the energy and health to keep on contributing to the fight for immigrant and social justice. Every march, rally, and gathering is important. Beyond raising group consciousness and unity, they all serve a real purpose in the fight for immigrant justice.