Bay Area IAF organizations have been in local action for years around issues effecting immigrants, and are getting ready for federal immigration reform. Leaders in Marin, Sonoma, Solano, and Napa counties have been organizing immigration workshops and clinics aimed at connecting immigrants with trusted legal support, educating people about immigration reform proposals, and building a constituency of immigrant and non-immigrant leaders to lay the local foundation for a successful pathway to citizenship. Since December, more than 500 people have participated in workshops and clinics focused on youth applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and over 100 native-born allies have taken part in local Immigration Action Team workshops on the history and current implications of US immigration policy.
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.
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.
With the promise of the California DREAM Act still a year away, COPA leaders launched a 2012 campaign to bring financial help to undocumented college students in their community. $150,000 raised from businesses leveraged an additional $150,000 from UC Santa Cruz, allowing COPA and its partners to provide $300,000 in assistance in advance of the law.
As energizing as the West side gathering was, what made it truly remarkable was that it emerged from hundreds of similar stories shared during "house meetings," or small group conversations, organized by Sacred Heart and COPS/Metro during Lent. Parishioners met in the church hall after Masses, knocked on doors around the neighborhood for six straight Saturdays, and hosted neighbors in their homes to understand the pressures on the families and to find people willing to act. Weeks of training, conversations, deliberation and preparation came before the meeting with Chief McManus...."Read more
The event was organized by El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization, a non-partisan group..."Read more
After mass, Sacred Heart Parish sponsored an assembly on immigration to highlight the impact of anti-immigrant laws on families that create fear, vulnerable citizens and concerns of violations of human rights."Read more
by Leah Mundell, Roxana de Niz, Rom Coles, & Gerald Wood; "Interfaith Council Works for Civility," Arizona Daily Sun
by Jeannie Kever, "A Call to Action on Immigration: Local Religious Leaders Hopeful for Reform, Despite Political Climate," Houston ChronicleRead more