On Wednesday, May 7th, 2014, immigrant mothers and allies were in Washington, DC to deliver postcards urging President Obama to "use the power of the pen" to stop deportations. This action was coordinated by our ally, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). The group called on the President to use his executive authority to keep immigrant families together; and visited Congress to share their personal stories and urge legislators to move the country toward common-sense immigration policies that allow all families to thrive.
The national debate on immigrants and immigration policy is quickly reaching a boiling point. The central demand by immigrant communities is a very clear one: Stop Deportations. Immigrant mothers from across the country are telling true stories of the pain being inflicted on families across the nation every single day. They hope to inspire the President to use "the power of the pen" to do what is morally right, and set the tone for the kind of legislation which would more clearly address the immigration crisis.
Please call your Rep TODAY and ask that they sign on to the McGovern "Dear Colleague" letter in support of key goals of Colombia's peace negotiations. The letter's deadline Thursday, May 8th!
The brief letter supports and congratulates the members at the negotiating table for making the progress they have thus far but, more importantly, also calls for a ceasefire while the negotiations continue in order to stop the bloodshed in the meantime. A statement like this from US officials sends a powerful message to the main actors in the Colombian conflict: The peace accord is crucial, but NOW is the time for peace in Colombia!
1. Call you're the Congressional hotline (202) 224-3121, tell them your member of Congress (click here if you don't know), then ask to be connected. Once connected, ask for the foreign policy staffer and tell them any variation of the following:
Claudia Paz y Paz can be proud of her accomplishments as Attorney General of Guatemala. Appointed in 2010 by former President Alvaro Colom, she started her term in office at a time when 98% of crimes reported went unsolved and unprosecuted. The backlog of human rights violations cases from the civil war years was also immense. After 3 years, working with other reform-minded individuals in the judicial system and with the International Commission on Impunity in Guatemala, she decreased this impunity rate by a whopping 30% and was one of those involved in bringing the genocide case against former President and General Efrain Rios Montt.
Victims of crime, indigenous peoples, and human rights groups in Guatemala and in the international community cheered her on. For the first time in a long time, it seemed like it might be possible to believe in the rule of law in Guatemala, to believe that the legal insitutions in Guatemala would uphold justice equally for everyone.
Then came the signs that the military, political and economic powers, who benefit from impunity, were not going to allow such progress to continue.
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your U.S. Rep in Congress!
On Monday, April 28, 2014, Rep. Jan Schakowsky began circulating a sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter in the U.S. House of Representatives to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. (See the letter's complete text below)
The letter states that "egregious violations of human rights continue" almost 5 years after the coup. It raises concerns about militarization of the police, and the failure to investigate or prosecute human rights abuses, including in the Aguan Valley. The letter also raises concerns about freedom of speech and associations, and questions whether the November 2013 election was not free and fair.
The letter asks State Department to:
- Pay close attention to these issues and strictly evaluate U.S. support for Honduran security forces, in accordance with conditions placed on the aid in the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
- Fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. assistance to any individual or unit that has committed gross human rights abuses and is not being brought to justice.
The deadline to sign on is Friday, May 9, 2014 at 5:00 PM eastern time. We need your help in securing the signature of your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on this letter. Only members of the House can sign the letter.
Carlos Mejia Orellana, journalist and marketing director of Radio Progreso in Honduras, was murdered in his home on April 11, 2014. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had issued precautionary measures on behalf of Mr. Mejia and over a dozen other Radio Progreso staff members, who all had received death threats over the last five years. However, the Honduran government had failed to implement these measures by providing protection.
Radio Progreso and its research arm, ERIC, work for the promotion of human rights and social justice through information, education reflection, and communication. It played an important role after the coup by educating the public on the actual content of the Honduran constitution and countering false information being broadcast by those who carried out the coup.
Father Ismael Moreno, director of Radio Progreso, believes that Mr. Mejia was murdered for his human rights work. Reporters Without Borders, an international group working for freedom of the press, also counts this as a strong possibility and condemned the killing. They and other international organizations are calling on the government of Honduras to conduct a thorough investigation which does not immediately rule out the possibility that Mr. Mejia was murdered for his human rights work.
To read more about this case and add your voice to the outcry from the international community about this killing, click here for the Amnesty International Urgent Action case description, which includes the names, addresses and fax numbers of Honduran officials to write.
This past April, thousands of demonstrators in more than 50 cities passionately marched and rallied in protest against the Obama’s administration record-high deportation figures.
According to the NYT, “two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.” This May Day join the CNSC and a number of other organizations dedicated to immigrant justice in making a statement against the continued breaking up of families and communities!
This May Day, speak up and let your voice be heard. Tell President Obama that he doesn't have to wait for Congress to use his executive authority to stop the suffering. He can expand the deferred action program he created for immigrant youth and suspend deportations immediately! By doing so, the President would not only put an end to the separation of hard working families but also directly address the circumstances and sets of conditions which are making it harder for workers in Chicago and elsewhere to survive.
The time to act is now! The actions, marches, and rallies recently carried out are all part of a strategic pressure effort. If Obama’s decision to “review the administration’s deportations policy and suggest ways to make it more humane” is any indication, the hard work is paying off. As we approach Obama’s summer review deadline, let’s keep the pressure going. Walk with us from Haymarket Memorial (175 N. Desplaines St.) at 3 PM t Let’s keep marching because “Two Million is Too Many!”
The march will begin at Haymarket Memorial ( 175 N. Desplaines St.) at 3 PM and conclude at ICE headquarters (101 West Congress Parkway) at 4:30 PM. To walk with and as CNSC representatives, please make sure to RSVP with Sara at SWohlleb@crln.org or Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org and meet us at the corner of North Clinton and West Lake (right off the Green Line Clinton stop) at 2:45 PM
On Good Friday the 8th Day Center for Justice, an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation, hosted their 34th Annual Walk for Justice. Hundreds of people, including IWC partners and CNSC staff, attended the procession designed to highlight the various injustices that plague our city, country, and world.
Among the issues addressed in the Walk for Justice, a modern-day way-of-the-cross, were the topic of immigration and the set of specific difficulties and challenges faced by unaccompanied immigrant children. Children migrate to the United States for a number of reasons: to reunite with family members residing in the United States, to escape poverty, fleeing violence and conflict, etc. In addition to drawing attention to the causes leading to migration, the 8th Day Center for Justice also exposed some of the detention and policy conditions children are subject to once in the United States.
In the last two years, the number of unaccompanied children has nearly tripled. Events like the Good Friday Walk for Justice are crucial as they open our eyes to the injustices occurring around us and push us to action.
To learn about volunteer opportunities regarding unaccompanied minors email Sara at SWohlleb@crln.org. Make sure to also join the CNSC and a number of other organizations this May Day as they collectively push to pressure President Obama to put an end to deportations and the breaking apart of families.
Each year, we appeal to you, our members and friends, to join CRLN. Your membership enables us to organize efforts through the year to advance social justice and peacemaking in Latin America and to work for immigrant justice in the U.S. We ask you now to renew or become a member for 2014 by clicking here.
Some of CRLN's efforts that your contributions have supported and will enable us to continue in 2014:
opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Fast Track legislation. Over 200 people came out to a rally in front of Representative Quigley's office to pressure him to stop supporting Fast Track and the TPP. Since then, although Fast Track legislation has been introduced, it was dead on arrival, as it was wildly unpopular with members of both parties in Congress. Now, while we wait for the legislation to be re-written and re-introduced, we're re-organizing ourselves and getting ready for more educational work and direct actions this summer. The momentum against this NAFTA-style trade bill is mounting. Join us!
On Monday, April 14, CRLN organized visits with top staffers of Illinois' two U.S. Senators, Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk, as part of 2014 Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia (DOPA). Eight CRLN members, each with personal experience in Colombia, presented a framed map of Colombia with "Footprints for a Path to Peace" accompanied by a letter calling for the Senators to offer more visible U.S. support for the peace negotiations now under way to end to the 50-year-long civil war that has generated 100's of 1000s of deaths in Colombia, and over 5 million internally displaced persons.
Over previous weekends, CRLN members and their congregations hosted events, led prayers, and crafted "footprints for peace". In doing so, we reminded each other of Colombia's continuing violent conflict and the power we have as U.S. citizens to lobby our elected officials to convert U.S. military aid into a Peace Fund to support reparations, restitution and reconciliation to the victims of violence who have organized to return to their lands and rebuild their lives.
This week, Jews and Christians remember God's response to the forces of slavery, the forces of domination, and the forces of death. Those forces seem ever present around us as we see laborers bend under the strain of harsh conditions, family separations, and constant fear. We witness mothers and fathers shackled to the bus seats by ankles, waist and wrists while awaiting their deportations. Contrary to the insistence of the public relations team at ICE, we know that the vast majority have never committed a serious crime.
But on a daily basis we witness something even more incredible: God's response. We witness thousands of people mobilized and taking enormous risks to end the suffering, even for the cause of just one single family. We witness brothers and sisters rising before dawn to pray, and staying up to the wee hours creating art for social justice. We witness strangers opening their homes to strangers, the rich and poor marching together, and most importantly the washing away of the fear and separation which have allowed this system to endure far too long.
Thank you for your courage in the face of domination. Thank you for the times you have allowed your fear to be washed away. Thank you for being part of NEW LIFE and liberation which can never be restrained. God's response is alive and active through you. May God bless your journey this week and every week.Sincerely,
Sara and Liz
You can support the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition and the Immigrant Welcoming Congregations by becoming a member of our larger organization, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN).