The West and Southwest IAF 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 humanitarian crises like the unaccompanied children at the border, local affiliates bring native-born and foreign-born constituents into conversation around the theology and economics of immigration, to educate recent newcomers with financial and know-your-rights tool-kits and to support policies which protect families while defeating those which would unfairly penalize undocumented immigrants for their status. In California, affiliates have 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 Texas organizations have launched civic academies in religious and civic participation. All immigration initiatives are rooted in the faith and democratic teachings of member institutions and seek to connect leaders across race, ethnic and language lines.
RECENT IMMIGRATION STORIES
November 3, 2014
San Rafael Immigrants Prepare for New Drivers License Law
Over 330 Marin Organizing Committee leaders packed a church gymnasium in San Rafael for a workshop on AB60, signed by Governor Brown last year, which grants valid California drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants beginning in 2015.
MOC leaders actively supported the legislation last year, meeting with the author Assembly Member Alejo early in the process and … more here.
October 14, 2014
DAI Lends Muscle to Push for Rest Breaks & Enforcement of Wage Theft Laws
With renewed focus on local and winnable immigration reforms, Dallas Area Interfaith leaders are lending its significant muscle to a push for water breaks for construction workers and enforcement of wage theft laws.
After DAI briefed the Dallas City Council on the need for a rest break ordinance to protect the health of construction workers, the Council took the step of…more here.
October 2, 2014
MACG Packs Assembly to Support Drivers Licenses for Oregon Undocumented
Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good leaders packed an assembly to hear stories from people impacted by Oregon’s driver’s license laws shared their stories and to advocate for Measure 88 on Oregon’s November ballot, which would allow undocumented immigrants to drive after fulfilling all other requirements.
Catholic Archbishop Alexander Sample urged leaders to “get their elevator speech ready”…more here.
September 29, 2014
PCIC Leverages Commitments at ‘Education Accountability’ Assembly
340 PCIC leaders packed the hall of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Tucson for an “Education Accountability” session with 30 member institutions in attendance. Candidates for State Representative, Pima Community College Board, and Arizona Attorney General publicly responded to PCIC concerns around DACA, foreclosures, JobPath workforce development, and overall funding for public education….more here.
September 18, 2014
Austin Interfaith Grills Candidates on Child Poverty, Immigration
300 leaders of Austin Interfaith convened Mayoral and County Judge candidates for a teach-in and accountability session on Austin child poverty (30%), affordability, investments in human development and local immigration reforms. In addition to yes / no responses, candidates were given several minutes to explain how they would work with the organization to address child poverty and inequality. Assembly night highlights included Mayoral candidate consensus on local immigration reforms (municipal identification and withdrawal from Secure Communities) and …more here.
August 13, 2014
AMOS Leaders Challenge Iowa Congressman on Immigration & Unaccompanied Minors
At a town hall meeting held in Ames, Iowa, Congressman Steve King was confronted by AMOS leaders unhappy with his recent votes on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and treatment of unaccompanied minors from Central America.
Shari Reilly appealed to the Catholic faith shared with King when she asked him to take a more “humanitarian approach” to the unaccompanied children arriving from…more here.
August 8, 2014
OTOC Leaders & Clergy Challenge Deportations of Minors
Less than a week after Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) leaders began circulating a statement in support of unaccompanied children at the border, 140 leaders signed on — including Nebraska Episcopal Bishop Scott Barker and NE Lutheran Bishop Brian Maas.
The campaign was precipitated by OTOC immigration action leader Sr. Kathleen Erickson, who had spent 5 weeks on a mission trip to San Pedro Sula in Honduras…more here.
August 7, 2014
Texas IAF Calls on White House to Halt Speedy Deportations
Asserting that anyone under 18 years must have an attorney and should never be subjected to expedited processing, hundreds of bishops and clergy from every major religious denomination in Texas denounced proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Act of 2008 and called on the White House for a better approach to the humanitarian crisis at the border.
In El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth and Dallas, religious leaders preached about the crisis at the border, organized ….more here
July 25, 2014
DAI Leads Charge on Break Ordinance for Construction Workers
Last month, 500 Dallas Area Interfaith leaders unleashed a tidal wave of pent up energy with the public launch of a campaign zeroing in on what Dallas-area residents can do about immigration reform in the Dallas area. Catholic Bishop Douglas Deshotel and dozens of clergy from Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian and Methodist denominations blessed the campaign, kicking off a summer of action to address key pieces of the DAI immigration agenda. Read more here…
July 24, 2014
Austin Interfaith Calls on County to Bring Migrant Children to Travis
Austin Interfaith is calling for an organized, coordinated effort to receive a large number of unaccompanied minors. This, they say, shouldn’t be subject to partisan bickering. For Ofelia Zapata, a strategy team member of the organization, the future of migrant children hits close to home. She sees the face of her own grandchild when she looks at the children. Read more here…
June 29, 2014
DAI Supports the Transfer of 2,000 Children to Dallas
100 DAI leaders gathered to discuss how to support the proposition that Dallas County host 2,000 unaccompanied children from Central America. ”So many are coming without parents because their lives are threatened,” said Rev. Terry McLellan of Faith United Presbyterian. Read more here…
June 18, 2014
500 DAI Leaders Launch Local Immigration Reform Campaign
Hundreds of Dallas Area Interfaith leaders poured into Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church to launch an immigration reform campaign to address local issues dealt with on a daily basis: wage theft, lack of water breaks and horrific apartment conditions. Accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Most Reverend J. Douglas Deshotel of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, DAI clergy urged parishioners and lay leaders to focus their energy on …read more here.
April 1, 2014
One LA Finds $11M in County Budget, Demands Immigrant Healthcare
After identifying $11 million in otherwise sunsetting County funds, One LA-IAF leaders demanded that the $11M be used to help cover the remaining undocumented and uninsured in LA County. After the press conference, Rabbi Dara Frimmer asserted that she was “proud to stand with OneLA leaders…because[it is] time to ensure that the image of God, imprinted on the face of every human being, is lifted up.” More here.
February 24, 2014
One LA Spreads Work of DACA Eligibility for Healthcare
“Diane Vanette, a volunteer with OneLA who screens people at Obamacare enrollment events, recently informed a couple with deferred-action status that they were both eligible for Medi-Cal. “He was shocked, she was shocked,” Vanette said. This illustrates the complexities in expanding coverage to the state’s large uninsured Latino population. About 82% of DACA-eligible…” Read more here.
February 12, 2014
PCIC Outsmarts Opposition: Makes County “Immigrant Welcoming”
Even with a Board that included a Supervisor elected by the Tea Party, PCIC leaders leveraged a unanimous vote (5-0) in support of a resolution making Pima an “immigrant welcoming county.” Bud Foster of KOLD-TVreports that half the speakers were against the resolution. However, he notes, “the opponents were not organized like the supporters were. Most of this crowd [w]ere from PCIC.” More here.
November 15, 2013
Sound Alliance Reaches Agreement on ICE Detainer Requests
300 leaders of the Sound Alliance and their allies reached an agreement with King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski to support an ordinance that would change how the County handles ICE “detainer requests”. Under the ordinance, the County will stop honoring these requests except when an individual has been convicted of certain violent or serious crimes. Read more here…
November 15, 2013
Del Rio Council Supports TBO’s Push for Water Conservation
Acting on pressure from leaders of The Border Organization, Del Rio “City council members pledged Tuesday to join The Border Organization in San Antonio Monday to voice opposition to a proposal to export Val Verde County water east to San Antonio via pipeline.
November 4, 2013
TMO Stands with Young Immigrants and for Immigration Reform
Diana, a young member of the National Honor Society and longtime Houston resident, loves her city and loves America. At a press conference organized by TMO, she tearfully related how Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (and The Metropolitan Organization of Houston) brought her out of the shadows and into public life. With her DACA application approved, she has applied for college and is now working after school as a film technician. Read more here…
October 23, 2013
TMO Clergy & Houston Bishops Denounce SAFE Act
Methodist Bishop Janice Riggle and Catholic Cardinal Daniel Dinardo spoke at a TMO press conference supporting comprehensive immigration reform and condemning the “Safe Act” bill. With clergy and representation from every major religious denomination in Houston, leaders called on those who oppose the SAFE Act to communicate their perspective with the Congressional representatives. Bishop Michael Rinehart of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America noted that the SAFE Act contradicts the immigration principles local religious leaders first put forth in 2008. Rev. John Ogletree of First Metropolitan Church and Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel also called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Read more here…
August 29, 2013
AZ Interfaith Engages McCain & Grijalva on CIR
With 150 clergy and laity (including five denominational bishops) Arizona Interfaith leaders dug in for lengthy, frank and bipartisan conversation with Senator John McCain and US Representative Raul Grijalva. In photo, Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas addresses the audience while Senator McCain and Rep. Grijalva look on. [Photo Credit: Linda Victoria]
August 12, 2013
AZ Interfaith Meets with Senator John McCain
With the August recess in full swing, judicatory leaders and key Arizona Interfaith clergy discussed the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform with met with Senator John McCain. Article referencing Arizona Interfaith, McCain and immigration reform.
July 13, 2013
Texas Border Leaders Challenge Police Treatment of Immigrants
After leaders of The Border Organization heard stories about a lack of patrols in their neighborhood and local police “collaboration” with the US Border Patrol, they took matters into their own hands, organizing a meeting with the Del Rio Police Department and voicing their concerns.
June 19, 2013
Central Texas Religious Leaders Call for Immigration Reform
In a prayer service and press conference organized by Austin Interfaith, Central Texas Bishops and clergy from six religious denominations “pressed Tuesday for reforms centered on keeping families together and allowing unauthorized immigrants to earn legal residency with a path to citizenship….[stating] such principles are key to what they called just and humane immigration reforms.”
Central Texas Religious Leaders: Immigration Change Must be Just, Humane, Austin American Statesman [Printable version]
May 31, 2013
Superintendent Agrees to Expand RGV Adult Education Efforts
“On Thursday evening, King spoke to over 100 adults who are either participating in the Valley Interfaith GED program or waiting to do so. The house meeting was held at St. John the Baptist’s in San Juan. Speaking in Spanish, King praised those participating in the GED program and spoke about his vision for scaling up what Valley Interfaith has started….
….asked if the GED en Español program could be scaled up to match the obvious demand, King had no doubts. ’I have no doubt at all. We will find a way to do it.’”
[Photo Credit: Rio Grande Guardian]
King Plans to Scale Up Valley Interfaith Efforts, Rio Grande Guardian
April 24, 2013
TMO Press Conference Responds to Immigration Bill
“[Gabriela] Nieto spoke Tuesday during a news conference called by The Metropolitan Organizationat which Houston faith and business leaders responded to a new plan for comprehensive immigration reform. The legislation, unveiled last week by a bipartisan group of senators, is the first major overhaul of U.S. immigration policy since 1986.
Speakers including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel said the highest priority should be creating a process for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship.”
[Photo: Business leader Stan Marek, flanked by Catholic Bishop DiNardo and UMC Bishop Janice Riggle Hui. Photo Credit: Olivia Tallet, La Voz]
Faith, Business Leaders Encouraged by Immigration Bill, Houston Chronicle
Clergy Urge Support for Immigration Reform, Jewish Herald Voice
April 11, 2013
Valley Interfaith Brings Spanish GED Prep to Hidalgo County
In civic academies on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Valley Interfaith leaders learned that there were almost no Spanish GED classes or testing sites in the County of Hidalgo and a lack of classes to prepare. This led some to travel hours to Brownsville – the only available site in the Rio Grande Valley.
Leaders worked with the McAllen Independent School System and St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church to expand Spanish language GED preparation classes, and with South Texas College to begin Spanish GED testing in Hidalgo County. Today, more than 60 students are enrolled. [Photo Credit: Steve Taylor, Rio Grande Guardian]
Valley Interfaith Plans to Expand GED En Espanol Program, Rio Grande Guardian
March 8, 2013
Arizona Bishops & Clergy Strategize on Immigration Reform
75 bishops and clergy from Lutheran, Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist faiths strategized on the future of immigration reform at an ecumenical gathering organized by the Arizona Interfaith Network.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas, of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson told the group that “today is a day to develop…strategies” and challenged clergy, asking “what can we do to mobilize our congregations?” Episcopal Bishop Kirk Smith asserted that “the current system is broken, cruel and an affront to God and man.”
[Photo Credit: Nicole Krug, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona]
Interfaith Immigration Gathering Held, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona
February 27, 2013
PCIC Wins In-State Tuition for DACA Students in Pima County
150 PCIC leaders, DREAMers and their parents filled the Board Room at Pima Community College and cheered when the Board of Governors voted 4-1 in favor of in-state tuition discounts for DACA students. Currently, hundreds of undocumented local students pay five times the in-state rate and are not eligible for financial aid.
PCIC leader Melanie Nelson spoke of the six Deferred Action Civic Academies held at her church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, last fall. “These students have lawful status now, but they can’t afford the high tuition. Before DACA we had several attempted suicides in our parish. Now they need an pathway to an education and a future,” she said. Before the vote, Jimmy Ojeda, a homeowner and parent, from St. John’s, and Monica Leon, a U of A graduate, from Casa Maria Catholic Worker shared their own immigration stories. The group’s goal is now to get the University of Arizona system to follow Pima’s lead.
January 29, 2013
Nebraska Leaders Improve Police & ICE Treatment of Immigrants
After leaders of OTOC’s Immigration Action Team challenged Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer to ensure that immigrants stopped by OPD officers receive fair treatment, OPD issued an official bulletin to all officers informing them that the matricula consular could be accepted as valid identification. (The matricula consular is an identification card issued by consulates verifying the place of residence for foreign nationals.) Photo shows leaders in early encounter with Chief Schmaderer.
OTOC leaders also met with the head of Douglas County Corrections and the regional director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about ways to reduce the number of immigrants with small children being detained in Douglas County jails while they await deportation hearings. ICE has now implemented a new release program which allows up to 100 persons who would otherwise be detained to return home to their families while they await their hearings.
See more extensive Media Coverage here.