In late June, President Obama announced that if Congress wouldn't take steps to address the current immigration crisis and alleviate the suffering of thousands of families and individuals he would.
Activists around the nation tuned in to his press conference, following his exact words very closely and attentively. Just minutes after speaking on Congress' inability or unwillingness to pass comprehensive immigration reform Obama declared, "If Congress cannot do their job, we can do ours."
In the last two weeks and in the next couple of weeks leading up until the end of the summer, you can expect regional and national mobilizations and actions to make sure Obama does just that: deliver on his promises.
As we struggle to balance our busy lives and varying commitments and responsibilities, why now more than ever is it crucial to remain engaged in these efforts?
Why did Sr. Gwen Farry, Bishop Eliezer Pascua, and Rev. Dan Dale take time to pray and speak at an immigration prayer vigil, just outside of Obama's House? Why did sisters from the 8th Day Center for Justice spend their Friday night on a bus with 150 other Chicagoans en route to DC, spend an entire Saturday marching in the DC heat-from the National Mall to the Freedom Plaza and unto the White House---, and then immediately board another bus for the a 14 hour drive back to Chicago? Why did more than 100 religious and immigration activists take on the decision to participate in a civil disobedience outside the White House knowing they would wind up getting arrested?
B. Loewe, a longtime spokesperson for the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) who was present at the DC march, commented, "The conversation has moved from, can [Obama] act, to will he and what should he do?"
The voices of those who have most at stake, undocumented individuals and their families, have been clear in their demands. This is Obama's opportunity to be bold and brave; he has the power to and should take on the broadest and most generous executive action possible.
Obama knows that the "job" has to get done and that sooner or later he's going to have to do something. What that something looks like, quality and quantitatively-wise, nevertheless, will be completely contingent upon the pressure which the administration feels itself to be under; i.e. it will be contingent upon the energy and efforts of folks like you and me.
If we want quality results, immigrant activist and community organizations are going to have to do a couple of things: 1) be united in our messaging and asks, 2) show that we're invested and attentive to all and any developments, 3) continue applying pressure and 4) REPEAT.
Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and tell your friends and family to also do so. Let President Obama know that you've been keeping tabs on the developments here inChicago and in DC, attending marches and rallies, making calls to your representatives and Congressional leaders in support of individuals undergoing deportation proceedings and, among other things, supporting clean and humanitarian policies for unaccompanied minors. Let him know that you're keeping him to his promise, and ask him to take on bold administrative relief now!
Your Congressional Representatives need to hear from you during the August Recess
Ask that Congress REJECT Rollbacks to the
Trafficking Victims Protection Act
Proposals to "deport children more quickly" would return unaccompanied children to exploitation, trafficking and unsafe situations
As the U.S. government responds to the humanitarian crisis faced by unaccompanied children and families fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, both President Obama and some Members of Congress are proposing changes to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. The TVPRA passed both chambers of Congress by unanimous consent and was signed into law by President Bush to address our international obligations of not returning vulnerable migrants to danger and to reduce the likelihood that the U.S. would deport children back into the hands of traffickers and others who would exploit them.
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.
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