Welcome to the CRLN website

Welcome to the homepage of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN).  The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) stands in solidarity with those oppressed by poverty, violence and exclusion in this hemisphere working together for the respect of human dignity and empowerment of all peoples.  An interfaith network of individuals and communities, CRLN equips and mobilizes religious leaders, communities and individuals to advance peace, justice and human rights in our hemisphere.

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Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Chicago: How You Can Help

Your support is needed for unaccompanied migrant children in Chicago.  Here's what you can do:

1. Call your Congressional Representatives and ask for their support to maintain protections under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).  This crucial law, signed by President Bush, provides protections for the most vulnerable among us.

2. Take up a collection of supplies for the children.  To find out more, contact swohlleb@crln.org.

3.  Become a volunteer.  Many hands make light work.  Contact swohlleb@crln.org for more information.

4. Make a financial contribution in support of the pastoral care program.  Click here to donate 

CRLN has recently taken a leading role in designing and launching a pastoral care program for some of the children apprehended at the border and held temporarily in Chicago.  For 25 years we have taken action supporting human rights in Latin America.  

From our longstanding experience, we know that this crisis has very deep roots.  Most of the children arriving are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, countries greatly affected by US policy toward militarization, the Drug War, free trade agreements and more.  Scroll down on our web site front page for ways you can be part of a long-term solution by supporting human rights in the area.

Tell Congress: Don't Roll Back Protections for Unaccompanied Children at the Border



Demand 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.  


Unaccompanied Minors at the Border: Immigration 'Games' & the Roots of the Root Causes

Photo credit: LaPrensa-SanDiego.orgPhoto credit: LaPrensa-SanDiego.orgI remember the first time that I heard someone describe immigration reform as a "political soccer game." I was amused then. Now I'm just horrified by how fitting that metaphor has proven to be. 


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.

Resistance: 5 years! Y la Resistencia: Adelante!

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.

LGBT Honduran Leader to Speak in Chicago on July 2nd

LGBT Hondurans Say: Enough!

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. 

Honduras Solidarity Organizers push 100+ Members of Congress to Stand for Human Rights in Honduras

National Organizing Effort Results in Powerful Statement against Political Violence & Impunity in Honduras

Photo courtesy of HondruasSolidarity.orgPhoto courtesy of HondruasSolidarity.orgAt 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.

Join Us for the 2014 IWC Interfaith Gathering!

Want to:

SUPPORT upcoming immigrant rights legislation
GET INVOLVED with volunteer ministries 
LEARN how to fight a deportation 
HEAR from active congregations, youth in faith formation, elected officials, and more! 

Join Us for the 2014 IWC Interfaith Gathering! 

Sunday, October 12th: 3-5PM

Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (303 Dodge Ave. Evanston)


Last week and over the weekend, CNSC leadership attended a community organizing training led by seasoned organizer Imelda Salazar of the Southwestern Organizing Project (SWOP). Of special value and appreciation were Imelda's instruction and direction on the relational concept of one-to-one meetings, an organizing tools meant to help us assess the social justice passions of the peoples we work with in our relentless fight for immigrant justice. The opportunity to practice one-to-ones with one another and to peek into the core of one another's inner driving forces was truly a remarkable gift! As we took the time and effort to learn a little more about one another, our personal backgrounds, and our varying work, it became clear how complex and multivariate, but also complementary and intersecting, our work as individuals and as Immigrant Welcoming Congregations is.

More often than not we become too absorbed in our own individual projects and efforts. We forget about the larger networks and communities of which we are graciously a part of, and we forget to celebrate our collective efforts, victories, and aspirations. For this reason, our gatherings--wherever and whenever they take place--are of a special value and purpose. It is in these space where we come together to praise our work, unity, and ministries, where we acknowledge, for example, the work and effort of IWCs that partake in supporting intefaith ministires, halting family seperations and stopping individual deportation cases,  and the remarkable and brave work of IWC congregations taking on projects such as the offering of sanctuary.

CRLN remembers John Fish, Sanctuary Movement organizer

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:

Reflections on the 2014 Guatemala Partnership delegation

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.