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CRLN recently recommended that you watch a NISGUA webinar titled “From the U.S. to Central America: Asylum, Deportations, and COVID-19,” featuring five panelists from Central America and the U.S. who are experts on migration and powerful movement leaders. The panelists spoke about the illegal and inhumane Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs), also known as safe third country agreements. They also discussed deportations during the pandemic, which have greatly impacted already under-resourced medical systems in the Global South.

The recording of the webinar, complete with English subtitles, is now available for viewing, if you were unable to see it when the webinar first aired.

Links: 

Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs)

deportations during the pandemic

recording

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CRLN is a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN). Karen Spring is HSN’s representative in Honduras and is an insightful analyst of what is going on in Honduras today. We encourage you to tune into her upcoming podcast series. The first 2 episodes aired yesterday on the 11th anniversary of the 2009 overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales. Read her statement and listen below!

Hi there!

Today is the 11th anniversary of the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras. Like so many, I continue to be inspired by the amazing resistance of Hondurans across the country.

Today, I LAUNCHED the Honduras Now podcast, to remember not just a day that sparked a crisis in Honduras but a day that brought together an amazing and tireless popular movement that despite all odds, continues today.

 

Listen to the first two episodes:

** Episode One: The 2009 coup d’état in Honduras – download HERE
** Episode Two: What the coup means 11 years later – download HERE

If you would prefer to read the episodes (or get the links to Honduran feminist artist Karla Lara’s beautiful music), I will post the show notes at: www.hondurasnow.org

Hasta pronto! Thanks for listening!

Karen Spring
Honduras-based Coordinator, Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN)
Honduras Now Podcast

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CRLN is proud to share this piece on Tackling the Root Causes of Immigration to the US from Honduras written by our own former Staff member, Maria I. Leon Gomez Sonet! Please find the very important, informative article below!

Opinion-–-Tackling-the-Root-Causes-of-Immigration-to-the-US-from-Honduras

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This liturgical guide was put together by Matthew Broeren who was an intern with us during the summer of 2019. Members of CRLN’s Immigrant Welcoming Congregations helped support the effort. The guide is meant to provide a structure for congregations of any faith who wish to hold a special service to call attention to immigrant justice issues. Please feel free to shape it to your group’s needs. Click on the link below

CRLN Devotional Worship Resources

 

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We hope that you will join the Asylum Working Group (AWG) and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) for virtual advocacy days from Tuesday, July 14 – Thursday, July 16 to demand that Congress defund the administration’s harmful anti-asylum policies and restore asylum protections. To join CRLN in participating, please RSVP here by Wednesday, July 1st. Next, contact Claudia Lucero (clucero@crln.org) so that we know who from CRLN will participate.

 

AWG and IIC will schedule virtual legislative visits between 10am ET – 4pm ET on Tuesday, July 14, Wednesday, July 15, and Thursday, July 16th. If you’re unable to join virtual meetings anywhere in those time blocks, please ensure you note that in the RSVP form. You will be given tools to engage in digital advocacy even if you cannot participate in the virtual meetings.

 

We are prioritizing participants from these key states and districts based on their Members of Congress (note that there are two tabs at the top, one for target Representatives and one for target Senators).

 

Background

Asylum processes and asylum protections for people fleeing from violence and persecution are enshrined in international and U.S. law.  Over the past few years, however, our asylum system has been transformed into a complex network of overlapping policies that are, by design, aimed at eviscerating the U.S. asylum system. Today, in contravention to public health experts’ guidance, the administration is wrongfully pointing to COVID-19 to deny our moral and legal obligations to welcome and process asylum seekers.

 

The goal is to educate Members of Congress about the systematic destruction of asylum protections and the impact the administration’s anti-asylum policies have had on asylum seekers, immigrants, and unaccompanied children – for those on both sides of the southern U.S. border.

 

How to Participate

AWG and IIC will hold a virtual training on legislative meetings and schedule group virtual meetings with your Senators and/or Members of Congress as well as conduct digital advocacy. Participants will receive:

  • Training on Virtual Legislative Meetings — date to-be-confirmed (late June/early July)
  • Schedule of Meetings with Your Members of Congress — on July 14th, 15th, or 16th sometime between 10am and 4pm
  • Sample Talking Points and Asks for Your Meeting — You will receive resources to help guide your meetings, and we encourage you also to share your personal stories and experiences
  • AWG and IIC Staff Support — each meeting will include an accompanier to provide support
  • Advocacy and Social Media Toolkit — the toolkit will include a call-in action, sample social media posts and graphics, and additional advocacy resources that you can share

Policy Asks

  1. Defund unlawful anti-asylum policies (such as the asylum bans) and safeguard any USCIS appropriations.
  2. Restore asylum protections and end immigrant detentions and deportations.
  3. Cosponsor pro-asylum legislation, such as the Refugee Protection Act(2936 / H.R.5210) and Asylum Seeker Protection Act (H.R. 2662).

 

To join us, please fill out this formYour responses will help us with scheduling meetings with your Members of Congress during the virtual advocacy days. Feel free to share this invitation widely with your networks!

 

Please feel free to reach out to Aubrey Grant (grant.aubrey@gmail.com) with any questions.

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Protect Colombian Human Rights Defenders During COVID-19

 

Dear Colleague,

 

We invite you to join us in sending a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo on the urgent need to protect Colombia’s human rights defenders and to identify and prosecute those who carry out threats, assaults, disappearances and murder against them.

 

Colombia is the most dangerous country for human rights defenders https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/jan/14/300-human-rights-activists-killed-2019-report. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia described as “staggering” the number of rights defenders murdered in 2019 https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/01/1055272. Those targeted include Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders, environmentalists and land rights activists, local community and social leaders, campesinos and trade unionists, peace communities, women, journalists and human rights advocates.

 

The Duque Administration and Attorney General’s Office have failed to provide the level of protection needed to safeguard the lives of these defenders, prosecute the intellectual authors of these attacks, dismantle the structures that benefit from this violence, or fulfill their obligations under the peace accords to safeguard these individuals and communities and establish a state presence in conflict regions. As a result, violent actors continue to act with impunity.

 

The coronavirus pandemic and Colombia’s quarantine have only increased the vulnerability of these valuable civic leaders: 23 social leaders were killed between March 15 and April 24, the initial period of Colombia’s pandemic lockdown. At the same time, recent media investigations revealed that Colombian Army intelligence units compiled detailed dossiers on the personal lives and activities of at least 130 reporters (including U.S. journalists), human rights defenders, politicians, judges, union leaders, and possible military whistleblowers https://www.hchr.org.co/files/comunicados/2020/press-release-intelligence-May-2020.pdf.

 

To sign onto the letter, or for further information, please contact Cindy Buhl (Rep. McGovern) at cindy.buhl@mail.house.gov or Leslie Zelenko (Rep. Pocan) at leslie.zelenko@mail.house.gov.

 

Sincerely,

 

James P. McGovern

Member of Congress

 

Mark Pocan

Member of Congress

 

————————————–

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

 

As the coronavirus pandemic exposes and magnifies existing problems in each of the countries it ravages, we are particularly concerned that it is affecting the safety of Colombia’s brave human rights defenders and social leaders who are putting their lives on the line to build lasting peace.

 

We write to ask you to urge the Duque Administration to recommit to implementing the historic 2016 peace accords and protecting Colombia’s endangered human rights defenders whose vulnerability has only increased during the COVID-19 quarantine.

 

Colombia is now the most dangerous country in the world for human rights defenders. Over 400 human rights defenders have been murdered since the signing of the peace accords – a loss of committed and valiant civic leaders that Colombia cannot afford. The Colombian government’s slowness in implementing the peace accords, its failure to bring the civilian state into the conflict zones, and its ongoing inability to prevent and prosecute attacks against defenders have allowed this tragedy to go unchecked. This appears to have intensified as illegal armed groups take advantage of the pandemic while the government fails to respond, further increasing the vulnerability of targeted rights defenders and local leaders.

 

For example, on March 19, three armed men entered a meeting where farmers were discussing voluntary coca eradication agreements and killed community leader Marco Rivadeneira. He promoted peace and coca substitution efforts in his community, represented his region in the guarantees working group to protect human rights defenders, and was a member of the national human rights network Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidos. Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and poor farming communities like the San José de Apartadó peace community continue to suffer and are even more vulnerable from the unchecked presence of illegal armed actors in their territories.

 

Marco Rivadeneira was one of 23 social leaders killed between March 15 and April 24, during the first weeks of Colombia’s pandemic lockdown. According to the Colombian NGO, Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz – INDEPAZ, in the first three months of 2020, 71 social leaders and defenders were killed in Colombia.

 

To stop this tragedy, we ask you to urge the Duque Administration to:

 

  • Improve protection of human rights defenders and social leaders, starting with effective investigations of attacks and threats against them, identifying those who ordered these crimes and publicly presenting the outcomes of these investigation.

 

  • Develop a road map for protection in consultation with defenders in the guarantees working group, including for pandemic-related challenges such as the need for personal protective equipment.

 

  • Fund and implement collective protection measures with differentiated ethnic and gender approaches in consultation with communities through the National Protection Unit. Collective measures agreed to with Afro-descendant and indigenous communities’ authorities must be guaranteed. The self-protection mechanisms of the San José de Apartadó peace community and similar humanitarian zones should be respected, including the support provided by international accompaniers, even during the pandemic.

 

  • Dismantle the paramilitary successor networks involved in drug trafficking, which fuel much of the violence against human rights defenders and social leaders. The government must honor its commitment to regularly convene the National Commission of Security Guarantees, which was established by the accords to develop and implement plans to dismantle illegal groups and protect communities, social leaders, and ex-combatants.

 

  • Effectively investigate, prosecute, and present results about these paramilitary and criminal networks through the Attorney General’s special investigative unit. We welcome the new agreement between the Colombian Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia to train prosecutors and investigators in aggressively addressing these human rights crimes. It is critical the State end impunity in the murders, disappearances, assaults and threats against human rights defenders, social leaders, land rights and environmental activists, journalists, trade unionists and other defenders.

 

  • Swiftly hold accountable Colombian Army intelligence members, including at the highest ranks, who ordered and carried out mass surveillance on 130 journalists (including U.S. reporters), human rights defenders, political leaders, and military whistleblowers. The U.S. should also ensure that U.S. security and intelligence assistance does not assist, aid or abet such illegal surveillance, now or in the future.

 

  • Vigorously implement the peace accords, including by adequately funding the transitional justice system, fully implementing the Ethnic Chapter, delivering on commitments for protection for ex-combatants and productive projects to reintegrate them into civilian life, and honoring commitments for truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition for victims of the conflict.

 

We urge you, Mr. Secretary, to ensure that all agencies of the United States speak with one clear voice to condemn these ever-escalating murders and to press the Duque Administration to take the necessary steps to identify and prosecute the intellectual authors of these crimes and dismantle the criminal structures that protect them.

 

Finally, we urge you to continue to provide valuable U.S. assistance to Colombia to implement the peace accords, provide humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan refugees and refugee receiving communities, and address the health and food security crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. should also take advantage of opportunities provided by the peace accords to carry out sustainable and lasting eradication of illegal crops by working with communities to replace coca with legal livelihoods and dismantling trafficking networks.

 

Thank you for your attention to these important concerns in this difficult time.

 

 

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How long, O Lord, must I call for help?

But you do not listen!

“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,

but you do not come to save.

Why do you make me look at injustice?

Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?

Destruction and violence are before me;

there is strife, and conflict abounds.

Therefore the law is paralyzed,

and justice never prevails.

The wicked hem in the righteous,

so that justice is perverted.

 

Habakkuk 1: 2-4

 

9 minutes. After 2 minutes without oxygen, the average adult human will lose consciousness, and after 3 to 4 minutes without blood flow, the brain begins to die. After 5 minutes without oxygen, the human brain enters the stage at which damage is likely unrepairable and death is imminent. For 9 long minutes George Floyd lay on the asphalt in Minneapolis with officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck. 9 minutes, some 6 of which George repeated over, and over, and over again, “I can’t breathe”.  9 minutes in which a dozen or so on lookers likewise repeatedly yelled at the police, “Let him up! He cannot breathe!”  9 minutes, during at least 2 of which it was obvious Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, but officer Chauvin’s knee remained on George’s neck regardless.  9 minutes that encapsulated 400 years of oppression.  9 minutes that launched a rebellion, an uprising, that says enough is enough.

 

CRLN mourns the murder of George Floyd and shares the righteous indignation of the millions who have had enough of the killing of people of color at the hands of law enforcement.  In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, protest signs remind us that “Racism is a pandemic, too.” CRLN stands in solidarity with the thousands who have decided to take to the streets to peacefully demonstrate their anger and demand justice over the last eleven days and counting.  This is an uprising against racial oppression that will not be silenced with simple platitudes or even the necessary and essential convictions of the four police officers responsible for Floyds death – that is only a start.  This is a movement that seeks to uproot the entire structure of systemic racism in this nation and beyond, and CRLN commits to playing our part in its dismantling.

 

Here in Chicago, we are painfully aware of the long, deep history of racial oppression and racialized police brutality.  It’s here in Chicago, which represented the “promised land” for so many African-Americans fleeing oppression in the Jim Crow South, that these refugees were met with housing segregation, job discrimination, urban ghettos and the bloody 1919 race riots.  This is the city that in 1966 handed MLK Jr. his first defeat with a hail of bricks and bottles in Marquette Park, that in ‘68 saw Mayor Daley order his police force to “shoot to kill” those “rioting” after MLK’s death, and whose police murdered Black Panthers Mark Clark and Fred Hampton in ‘69.  Even after the Civil Rights era’s so called “urban renewal,” white flight, redlining, inferior and underfunded public housing perpetuated that same old segregation.  A police force with the likes of Commander Jon Burge, torturing hundreds of innocent Black suspects, enforced and preserved the system.  Even the conviction of extreme examples like Burge, after decades of struggle, could not prevent the police murders of Rekia Boyd, Laquan McDonald, and Pedro Rios Jr. This historic and continuing pandemic of violence against people of color, along with our concerns over the criminalization of our immigrant youth, are the reasons why CRLN has worked in coalition with groups to eliminate Chicago’s gang database and other policies that criminalize communities of color.

 

The scenes of state violence against peaceful protesters we have all witnessed across the nation in the past two weeks are also all too familiar to us.  In our 30 years of solidarity work with the people of Latin America, we have seen the same forces of state repression used against those seeking justice, often, once again, to maintain a system of institutionalized racism, whether it be against African descended communities in Colombia, indigenous communities in Guatemala, or Garifuna communities in Honduras.  For decades U.S. imperialism has promoted, trained, and funded the militaries and later the police forces that have been responsible for the widespread violations of human rights against these communities across Latin America.  Violence was justified in the name of fighting “Communism”, later in the name of fighting the War on Drugs and against terrorism, regardless of the fact that the amount of drugs coming across our southern border never decreased and no terrorists were ever found crossing that border. Whatever the reasons given, U.S. trained and funded “security” forces only provided security for some—the elite groups who could share the wealth gained from U.S. economic policies that exploited Latin American labor and resources, the politicians who voted for U.S. positions in international forums or agreed to help keep people from migrating to the U.S. by force—never for communities of color.

 

In recent years, that violence has come home to roost as domestic police forces have been militarized, purchasing the equipment and adopting the tactics the U.S. military pioneered abroad.  Because of the pandemic of racism, the police have targeted black and brown people disproportionately. The outcome is unsurprisingly similar. But just like the uprisings this past year in Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, the repressive forces of the state cannot silence the righteous calls for justice.  CRLN stands in solidarity with those demanding justice here and across the Americas.

 

Unfortunately, we are also witnessing in our community another intended consequence of this racist state violence, the breeding of a divide and conquer strategy in which members of our own communities turn on one another and enact and reproduce the violence the state inflicts upon them against those who should be their natural allies.  The pandemic of racism can be internalized.  In Latinx communities in Chicago, Pilsen and especially La Villita over the past week, we have witnessed Latinx gangs claiming to “defend” their barrios by enacting violence against black youth in the neighborhood.  This is obviously deeply disturbing and unacceptable, and CRLN supports the call put out by a coalition of Latinx organizations calling for black and brown unity and a halt to such violence https://bit.ly/LatinxAgainstAntiBlackAttacks

 

Let 9 minutes be the start of a dismantling of white supremacy once and for all.  We must end the pandemic of racism, wherever it exists. Evidence that we are on the right path is certainly there with city after city–New York, Los Angeles, though sadly so far not Chicago–committing to significant “defunding” of their police forces and redirecting of those resources into areas that have faced regular funding cuts like community mental health, youth services and affordable housing.  Cities like Minneapolis are taking things a step further and looking at rethinking policing altogether.  CRLN supports Black Lives Matter’s position statement #Defund the Police, and we ask our members to sign on to their petition which can be found at https://blacklivesmatter.com/defundthepolice  We also support the Black Lives Matter Chicago demands that you can find at https://www.blacklivesmatterchicago.com/10-demands-of-blmchi    Let 9 minutes of suffering and death lead to a resurrection of our understanding of justice and conflict resolution that results in peace and life instead of more death and suffering.  CRLN will play our part in that resurrection.

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Prophetic Action is extremely difficult under the dividing circumstances the nation is facing. However, CRLN remains aware of the hard work to be done in educating our network and sharing resources towards unifying. Here a few highlights of the recent efforts we have made in our Immigration Program:

CRLN Sanctuary Working Group:  After joining an organizational sign-on letter calling on ICE and CBP to release people from immigrant detention to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in crowded and unsanitary detention centers, CRLN formed a Working Group to plan for temporary sanctuary spaces for those released.

While ICE has released very few people, some with preexisting health conditions, usually after legal battles, representatives to CRLN’s Organizing Committee from University Church, Wellington Avenue UCC, Su Casa Catholic Worker, Viatorian House of Hospitality, Bethany House of Hospitality, Congregation Tzedek, and the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants have been working to support those who may be released. We are accepting donations to support these efforts.

 ICIRR Everybody In Organizing Platform: As members of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights we helped organize around the rights of immigrants in the current crisis.  With allies from around the state, we helped form the Everybody In Platform.  The aim of this campaign has four main components:

  1. Health Access for All regardless of immigration status. We want to make sure that the communities with the most need receive the care they deserve with no fear.
  2. Economic Security for All regardless of immigration status. We want to ensure that all people in Illinois receive support from safety net programs.
  3. #FreeThemAll is a push to have all people in detention and incarceration released for their safety. About 70% of people in detention are predicted to catch COVID-19.
  4. Stop all ICE and local police collaboration, make renewal of DACA and TPS grants automatic, and end over-policing in our communities.

We achieved some key victories.

  • The largest appropriation to the Immigrant Service Line item in the line’s history at $30 million, with $20 million going to direct cash assistance that many grass roots, immigrant led organizations will oversee. 
  • Nearly $400 million in rental assistance funding accessible to the most vulnerable renters regardless of immigration status
  • An additional $30 million (at least) in other immigrant service supports in response to the pandemic.
  • An expansion of access to state health insurance to undocumented older adults, aged 65 and over.

Paid Emergency Sick Leave Ordinance: As states mandated many businesses to close, people without papers were the most deeply affected. No federal monies will be given to these individuals or their families. We are all in this together, but we are not all affected in the same way.

We are coordinating our coalition efforts with Arise Chicago, the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Raise the Floor Alliance and AFIRE Chicago, on a Chicago ordinance that would require business owners to grant paid sick leave to ALL of their employees during an emergency if they need to quarantine for 14 days or take care of a family member with COVID-19, with the possibility of this being renewed for an additional 14 days for a total of 28 days. This ordinance would be retroactive.

Here is more information: https://www.arisechicago.org/epl

Chicago Emergency Paid Leave Ordinance – Arise ChicagoChicago Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. Protect All Chicago Working Families. The City of Chicago must act now to ensure all working people and their families can immediately care for their physical and financial health.. All working people in Chicago must be able to take a paid CDC-recommended 14-day quarantine if sick, care for a family member with COVID-19.www.arisechicago.org

 

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