West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation organizations are actively working at federal, state and local levels so that immigrant families can participate more fully in public life.

In addition to responding to the humanitarian crisis at the border, local affiliates are bringing native- and foreign-born constituents into conversation around the theology (and economics) of immigration, educating recent newcomers with financial and 'Know Your Rights' civic academies, supporting policies which protect families and working to defeat those that would unfairly penalize undocumented immigrants for their status.

In California, affiliates have expanded access to public healthcare for immigrants, changed vehicle impoundment laws in urban municipalities and equipped thousands of individuals with government sanctioned photo-ID cards; In Arizona, organizations secured in-state tuition for DACA students in local community colleges; affiliates in Iowa have led voter education initiatives on the fiscal and economic impacts of immigration; and organizations in Texas have launched parish ID cards that are providing thousands of immigrants with alternative means of proving their identity to the police.

All immigration initiatives are rooted in the faith and democratic teachings of member institutions and seek to connect leaders across racial, ethnic and language lines.

‘Recognizing the Stranger’: Leadership Development for Immigration Reform

'Recognizing the Stranger' is a new multi-year regional approach to immigration, working with local parishes to identify, train, and mentor immigrant leaders to build connections among themselves and with nonimmigrant allies in their parishes and the broader community.  It is a collaborative effort among clergy, leaders, and organizers to develop capacity to tackle tough issues.  With support from CCHD, the strategy has expanded from 7 to19 dioceses across the West and Southwest US.  

According to CCHD Director Ralph McCloud, "Recognizing the Stranger is particularly successful because it captures the connections between what happens at Mass on Sunday morning, how families live their lives throughout the week, and how parishioners interact with members of the broader community. I have been impressed that participants seek true change.  In the process, parishes are strengthened, unified, and revitalized."

Recognizing the Stranger, National Strategic GrantCCHD

Program Trains Leaders to Put Faith into ActionTexas Catholic - Dallas

Immigrant Leaders Being TrainedCatholic Sentinel - Portland [pdf]

Milestones: Catholic Campaign, TMO Offers Leadership Training for Hispanic ParishionersTexas Catholic Herald 


On this International Worker's Day, Coloradans for the Common Good (CCG) leaders, led by members of Centro de los Trabajadores, and labor allies celebrated a major step forward in the protection of immigrant workers. 

At the urging of CCG and labor allies, Denver City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to extend subpoena power to the Denver Auditor in matters of wage investigations. Companies accused of wage theft may no longer simply pay a small fine and move on when accused.  This power means stronger enforcement of Denver's wage protections and more money for the workers who earned it.

This victory was built on hundreds of conversations with immigrant workers who shared painful stories of wage theft and disrespect in the workplace. 

On Thursday April 18th VOICE-OKC hosted a press conference denouncing the passage of HB 4156 and the way it opens the door for targeting members within Latino communities, regardless of their documented status.  Those in opposition include the Most Rev. Paul S Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Fr. Tim Luschen of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, the Rev. Dr. Lori Walke of Mayflower Congregational Church and 20 other pastors across the state.  


About six years ago, AMOS asked families what kept them up at night. Parents said they needed services for children in mental health crises.

“Kids were waiting months to see a therapist. They were not getting what they need from a system designed for adults,” said Crystal Loving, of First Unitarian Church. A child in the midst of a mental health crisis would be handcuffed, put in the backseat of a police car, and enter the juvenile justice system rather than get the mental health care that was needed."

On Saturday April 15th, over 200 people from 41 institutions and 6 deaneries participated in 'Recognizing the Stranger' parish leadership training in collaboration with the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  The session was conducted in English and in Spanish, and included 15 clergy and two bishops.  Spanish speaking leaders expressed a strong desire to organize their parishes.

A major theme developed over the course of the sessions was that the Church is not a parking lot and that Mission is key element of the one's faith.  Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller told participants that the Church needs their leadership because clergy cannot do what lay leaders can.


From downtown Omaha to the shadow of Scotts Bluff National Monument,... the chronic lack of in-state workers to fill jobs...brought an unusual pair of groups to North Platte Dec. 1 as they build a coalition of agricultural, business, health care, education, labor and community leaders from one end of the state to the other.

It sprang from months of talks between the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Omaha Together One Community, a 30-year-old, faith-based advocacy group that had mainly focused on social justice issues in its home city.

They say it’s time for Nebraska to aggressively recruit internationally to grow its workforce — in other words, welcome immigrants....

Over 300 leaders, clergy, religious, and bishops from 20 organizations gathered last week in San Antonio to celebrate five years of Recognizing the Stranger, a West/Southwest IAF training, leadership formation, and parish organizing strategy. 

The Convocation was highlighted by a video message from Pope Francis, who offered his “closeness and support” to the IAF network and its work to organize with immigrants and with those at the margins to encourage “participation of the Christian in public life.”  

Delivered to the West/Southwest IAF 'Recognizing the Stranger' Convocation in San Antonio, February 28 - March 1

Over 300 leaders, clergy, religious, and bishops from 20 organizations gathered last week in San Antonio to celebrate five years of Recognizing the Stranger, a West/Southwest IAF training, leadership formation, and parish organizing strategy. 

The Convocation was highlighted by a video message from Pope Francis, who offered his “closeness and support” to the IAF network and its work to organize with immigrants and with those at the margins to encourage “participation of the Christian in public life.”  

[Photo Credit: Steve Taylor, Rio Grande Guardian]


"Our immigration system is outdated, and Congress has been unable to update it in decades. As a result, Governor Abbott and his enablers in the Texas Legislature are coming up with ever more questionable ways to spend billions of Texas taxes to militarize border enforcement and criminalize migrants who are fleeing political, religious and criminal violence and persecution in countries across the world. Frustration over our broken immigration system is allowing the Governor and Texas Legislature to adopt inappropriate and self-defeating strategies like SB 4 and SB 3.

SB 4 will make it a state crime for anyone to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry. Under the current immigration law, only 1450 people each day can legally cross the US-Mexico border at ports of entry and seek asylum. Many thousands more, fearing the violence and cartels on the Mexico side of the border, choose to cross between ports of entry and immediately turn themselves into border patrol officers and seek asylum. If state and local officers interact before they turn themselves into border patrol, they are liable under SB 4."

Valley Interfaith: We decry Gov. Abbott’s Signing of New Anti-Immigrant State LawsRio Grande Guardian [pdf]


Voters in Arizona have the opportunity with Proposition 308 to overturn a law that prevents Dreamers access to in-state tuition at Arizona universities. Rabbi John A. Linder, a clergy leader with Valley Interfaith Project makes the case for in-state tuition for Arizona Dreamers.


Prop. 308 would finally let Dreamers — hard-working undocumented young people brought to Arizona from other countries as infants or children through no choice of their own — pay the same in-state tuition rates at Arizona public colleges and universities as their high school peers.

Right now, some 2,000 Dreamers have to pay up to three times as much as their peers. That’s not smart and it’s not right..…

Again, these are OUR kids — Arizona kids. It’s simply not fair that they’ve gone to school all their lives alongside other Arizona kids, under the illusion of fairness, only to find that they’re shut out of an affordable higher education merely because they came here undocumented as children. They had no say in the matter! And yet despite that shaky footing, they’ve proven to be among our state’s finest scholars — and hardest workers.

[Photo courtesy of Rabbi John Linder]

Building on a strategy initiated by Dallas Area Interfaith, parish leaders at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church issued parish identification cards to parishioners.  The document allows immigrant parishioners to identify themselves to authorities, including law enforcement and county health officials, and was developed in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and local law police departments.  Revista Catolica captured the most recent parish ID event on film.    

Parish IDs Issued at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church with the Support of DAIRevista Cátolica [video in Spanish]

Con Credencial en Mano, Feligreses Obtienen Seguridad Para Navegar Trato con Agencias Locales, Texas Catholic [pdf]

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