by Claudia Lucero & Juan Carlos Hernández

The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.  –Leviticus 19:34

Other than calling for justice for those at the bottom of society, there is perhaps no social issue addressed more in scripture, especially the Old Testament, than the admonishment to “welcome the stranger” and to treat the foreigner the same as the citizens of your nation.  It is of little surprise that this is a central theme given the long years of sojourning through the desert experienced by the Jews.  As a result, the three Abrahamic faith traditions place a high emphasis on the just treatment of the migrant.  Other faith traditions have similar principles.  How appalling is it then that people who claim to be people of faith are the very ones at the heart of persecuting the stranger?  That stark and shameful reality reached an apex with the recent callous shipping of migrants from Texas to locations across the United States, often to places that were, at least initially, not prepared for such a political stunt and who could offer limited resources for the newcomers.  Yet that act of fear and hate was met with acts of love in the places where these migrants arrived.  Chicago was one of these places and CRLN was at the forefront of efforts to welcome the stranger. 

New arrivals sent from Texas to Chicago arrive at the welcome center after resting for the night in a local shelter. Municipal and state authorities teamed up with nonprofit groups to welcome these immigrants to Chicago.

The economic and political conditions in Central America in particular, and throughout the Americas, continue to be the generator of millions of refugees and displaced persons.  Certainly, there have been positive developments in the past year.  The triumph of democracy in Honduras, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil is to be celebrated.  But so much of the Americas, especially our closest neighbors in Central America face abominable levels of poverty and repression at the hands of governments who are increasingly in the mainstream of reactionary right-wing populism, a global political movement.

The current governments of Guatemala and El Salvador are perfect examples of this.  Alejandro Giammattei, president of Guatemala, and the country’s former head jailer ironically spent time in one of the jails he managed, as he was complicit in an inmate massacre.  Is it any surprise that his answer to Guatemala’s deep social problems is more violence? This has led to the undermining of the nation’s limited democratic mechanisms like the courts, and increased budgets for the police and the military, support the U.S. is all too happy to encourage and aid. 

In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele is known primarily for two things: gambling on the nation’s economy by embracing cryptocurrency, and a law-and-order crackdown that quite literally has put every young male in the country in danger of death or jail.  Thousands of Salvadorans languish in prisons that can only be described as hell on earth. 

Nonprofit groups set up a processing center for new arrivals to begin the intake process. Immigrants were able to receive health support and begin a legal evaluation process at the center.

Large political questions must always be viewed from the ground up, from the perspective of people who must live with the consequences of policies made by people in government. That was again made clear this past year. The people of Venezuela have suffered from the current economic conditions in their country made worse by the sanctions imposed by the United States. The sanctions have decimated their economy. And so, like their brothers and sisters in Central America, Venezuelans have been forced to migrate. They have walked to other countries throughout the hemisphere, including the United States, to where they hoped to find new opportunities. Since last year, thousands have crossed into the country. Certain politicians have made them into political pawns hoping to stir up anti-immigrant feelings, and certainly, they have. However, these actions have also stirred us into action, love, and solidarity!

CRLN has been one of the key organizations in advocating for the best wrap-around services for these newcomers. CRLN staff and members were at the welcome center when the first group of migrants was processed on September 2nd. We yelled, “Welcome!” and shook their hands as they took their first steps toward settling into their new home, Chicago. We listened to their stories and experiences. We connected with them and helped them see that we would stand with them in solidarity.

A group of newly arrived immigrants begins the intake process in Chicago. Immigrants were able to receive care and begin processing their cases at the city’s welcome center.

CRLN was present for four reasons: 1) our long history of advocacy work. 2) a staff who have firsthand knowledge of the difficulty of migration and 3) our Sanctuary Working Group, which has been accompanying immigrants and asylum seekers for the past two and a half years. And number four is YOU, our supporters, members, and our network. You make our work possible! Be assured that we will continue to accompany and advocate for and with our immigrant brothers and sisters. Since 2020, we have accompanied more than 100 people from Africa and Latin America.

With our congregational partners, we have helped people to gain a foothold in our country and create a stable life. Because this need is constant, we are hoping to expand our hospitality work in the new year by renting a property and hiring new staff to help us better accompany people in that space. It is an exciting development for CRLN and one we hope you will support by donating online at or by downloading the donation form and sending it with your check to our office.

Please join us in making manifest our faith by “welcoming the stranger”.


Claudia Lucero, Executive Director

Juan Carlos Hernández, Immigration Program Coordinator

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Christina Perez (she/ella), PhD, is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Director of Study of Women & Gender and Latinx/Latin American Studies programs, and the author of Caring for Them from Birth to Death: The Practice of Community-Based Cuban Medicine (2008). She has a long history of activism and solidarity against racism and homophobia in the United States, and for economic and social justice in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Cuba, El Salvador, and Venezuela. For over twenty years, Perez has worked with FLACSO-CUBA (Latin American School of Social Sciences) and the University of Havana. She develops academic programs to Cuba for undergraduate students through Dominican University and educational solidarity tours in Cuba for the general public at Sol y Luna Educational Travels & Tours. 

Christina Perez (she/ella), PhD, es Profesor Titular de Sociología, Directora del Programa de los Estudios de Mujeres y Género y Directora del Programa de los Estudios Latinx/Latinoamericanos. Es autora del libro, Cuidar desde el nacimiento hasta la muerte: la práctica de la medicina cubana basada en la comunitaria (2008). Dr. Perez tiene un largo historial en la militancia y solidaridad con movimientos contra el racismo y la homofobia en los Estados Unidos, así como en la justicia económica y social en América Latina y el Caribe. Ha desarrollado proyectos académicos y solidarias en Cuba, El Salvador y Venezuela. Pérez ha trabajado y colaborado durante más de veinte años con FLACSO-CUBA (Escuela Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales) de la Universidad de la Habana. También ha desarrollado programas académicos en Cuba para estudiantes universitarios de la Universidad Dominicana, así como giras solidarias educativas en Cuba para el público en general a través de Sol y Luna Educational Travels & Tours. 

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Margot Worfolk has committed her life to working for peace with justice for all God’s children, especially those who are left out and pushed out by unjust political and economic systems. She first became active with CRLN in 2000 by participating in a delegation to El Salvador, marking the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Monseñor Oscar Romero. There, she fell in love with the courageous Salvadoran people and their struggle for justice, and she also fell in love with Joe Houston. On a later delegation, Margot and Joe were married on a beach in El Salvador! Together Margot and Joe continued to support the work of CRLN by participating in delegations to El Salvador and Cuba, the annual vigils calling for the closing of the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas, and public policy delegations to Washington DC. On one of the DC delegations, Margot met with Republican Congresswoman Judy Biggert, who became convinced to co-sponsor legislation calling for the de-funding of the SOA.  Margot was an active board member of CRLN for many years. She represented CRLN at literature tables at events, called members, and invited tables of friends to CRLN events. Staff frequently sought out Margot for her ability to support staff transition planning.  Margot had many leadership roles on the CRLN Board of Directors, including serving as Chair during the search process for CRLN’s next director. Under her wise and thoughtful leadership, CRLN became stronger and more effective in its mission to promote sustainable economies, just relationships, and human dignity. 

Margot Worfolk ha dedicado su vida a trabajar por la paz con base en la justicia para todos los hijos de Dios, especialmente para aquellos que son excluidos o expulsados ​​por sistemas políticos y económicos injustos. Se unió a CRLN en el 2000 para participar en una delegación a El Salvador, durante el vigesimo aniversario del asesinato del Monseñor Oscar Romero. Allí se enamoró del valiente pueblo salvadoreño y su lucha por la justicia, y también se enamoró de Joe Houston. ¡En una delegación posterior, Margot y Joe se casaron en una playa de El Salvador! Juntos, Margot y Joe continuaron apoyando el trabajo de CRLN al participar en delegaciones a El Salvador y Cuba, las vigilias anuales por el cierre de la Escuela de las Américas del Ejército de los EE. UU. y delegaciones de incidencia en Washington D.C. En una de las delegaciones a la capital, Margot se reunió con la congresista republicana Judy Biggert, a quien se convenció de copatrocinar una medida que buscaba desfinanciar la Escuela de las Américas. Margot fue miembro de la junta directiva de CRLN durante muchos años. Representó a CRLN en mesas informativas en eventos, llamó a miembros e invitó a sus amigos a eventos de CRLN. A menudo, el personal buscaba a Margot por su capacidad para apoyar la planificación de la transición del personal. Margot tuvo muchos roles de liderazgo en la Junta Directiva de CRLN, de la cual fue presidente durante el proceso de búsqueda de la actual directora de CRLN. Bajo su liderazgo sabio y reflexivo, CRLN se fortaleció para ser mas eficaz en su misión de promover economías sostenibles, relaciones justas y la dignidad humana.  

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Dan Dale is a lifelong fighter for justice and peace in our world. As one of the founders of the Sanctuary Movement in Chicago during the 1980s, he helped to inspire members of local congregations to open their sacred spaces – buildings, communities, homes, and hearts – to those fleeing persecution and danger from El Salvador and Guatemala. At the same time, the movement pressured the U.S. government to cease its support for repressive regimes in Latin America and to abide by the international law that calls upon all nations to provide safety for those fleeing government violence. In the late 1980s, Dan and his wife, Nancy Jones, and their two daughters, Jenny and Lucy, put their commitment into action by serving as United Church of Christ mission volunteers in El Salvador. In the midst of that violent conflict, they courageously stood with people struggling for justice and shared their stories with those of us who remained in the U.S. to carry on the struggle. While there, in 1988-89, Dan and his family were threatened with deportation by the Salvadoran government for their work with the Lutheran Church of El Salvador. In response to this threat, the newly formed CRLN sprang into action and convinced then Senator Alan Dixon (D-IL) to initiate a Senate sign-on letter, urging the Salvadoran government to respect the work of U.S. church workers. This action influenced the Salvadoran government to cease its threat against Dan and his family. Soon afterward, CRLN honored Sen. Dixon and Salvadoran Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez at our first luncheon. Dan’s commitment to faith-based social justice has continued to this day through his service as a campus minister at UIC; his participation in numerous delegations to Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, and Honduras; his attendance at the annual vigils calling for the closing of the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas; his faithful advocacy to change harmful U.S. policies in Latin America and his leadership on the Board of Directors of CRLN. Dan is a joyful warrior, living out his faith that God desires peace with justice for all creation and that we are called to work for that goal with all our hearts. Dan not only talks the talk, he walks the walk! 

A lo largo de su vida, Dan Dale ha luchado por la justicia y la paz. Como uno de los fundadores del Movimiento Santuario en Chicago durante los años 80 del siglo pasado. Sus esfuerzos fueron clave para que congregaciones locales abriran sus espacios (edificios, hogares y corazones) a quienes huían de la persecución y el peligro que experimentaban en El Salvador y Guatemala. Al mismo tiempo, este movimiento presionó al gobierno de Estados Unidos a frenar su apoyo a los regímenes represivos en América Latina y así cumplir con el derecho internacional, el cual llama a todas las naciones a brindar seguridad a quienes huyen de la violencia del estado. A fines de los años 80, Dan y su esposa, Nancy Jones junto con sus hijas, Jenny y Lucy, pusieron en práctica su compromiso por la justicia cuando trabajaron como voluntarios misioneros de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en El Salvador. En medio de ese conflicto,  y con mucha valentía apoyaron a las personas que luchan por la justicia. Después compartieron esos hechos con nosotros que permanecimos en los Estados Unidos, para así continuar con la lucha. Mientras estuvo en El Salvador, de 1988 a 1989, Dan y su familia fueron amenazados con la deportación por el gobierno salvadoreño por su trabajo con la Iglesia Luterana de El Salvador. En respuesta a esta amenaza, CRLN, recién formado, entró en acción y convenció al entonces Senador Alan Dixon (D-IL) de iniciar una petición para el Senado, instando al gobierno salvadoreño a respetar el trabajo de los misioneros de la iglesia de Estados Unidos. Con esta acción el gobierno salvadoreño cesó su amenaza contra la familia. Poco después, CRLN honró al Senador Dixon y al obispo luterano salvadoreño Medardo Gómez en nuestro primer evento. El compromiso de Dan para luchar la justicia social con una base en la fe ha continuado desde entonces y a través de su servicio como ministro en la Universidad de Illinois, Campus Chicago; su participación en numerosas delegaciones a Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba y Honduras; su asistencia a las vigilias anuales por el cierre de la Escuela de las Américas del ejército de Estados Unidos;  su fiel defensa por cambiar las políticas nocivas de  Estados Unidos en América Latina y su liderazgo en la Junta Directiva de CRLN. Dan es un guerrero alegre que vive una fe con una visión de Dios que desea la paz y la justicia para toda la creación, a lo cual estamos llamados a construir en este mundo con todo nuestro esfuerzo. ¡Dan predica con su ejemplo!

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Ramón Marino is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and visual artist from Mexico City who has lived in Chicago for more than thirty years. In 1996 he recorded Tierra y Libertad, a CD of Trova and Nueva Canción with works by several Latin American composers. In 2002, he began hosting Guitar Fridays, which started at La Decima Musa and continued at Galería Citlalin. Ramon has performed at various events focused on the struggle for social justice, such as the March Against the War (March 2007, Chicago Daley Center), recitals, and concerts. In 2002, Ramón began working at the Center for Career Access and Success at Northeastern Illinois University, where he teaches how to integrate art into the curriculum of teachers, parents, and students from various public schools in Chicago, Cicero, and Berwyn. In 2017, Ramón painted the mural Birds of Illinois as part of the Caracol Project in the Burnham Wildlife Corridor at Lake Michigan.  The mural features birds from Illinois as well as glyphs of birds borrowed from Aztec, Maya, and other ancient Mexican cultures.

Ramón Marino es un cantautor, guitarrista y artista oriundo de la Ciudad de México. Vive en Chicago desde hace más de treinta años. En 1996 grabó Tierra y libertad, un disco de Trova y Nueva Canción con obras de varios compositores latinoamericanos. En el 2002, inició Guitar Fridays, que comenzó en La Décima Musa y continuó en la Galería Citlalin. Ramón se ha presentado en varios eventos en la lucha por la justicia social, como la Marcha contra la Guerra (marzo de 2007, Chicago Daley Center), entre otros recitales y conciertos. En el 2002, Ramón comenzó a trabajar en el Center for Career Access and Success de la Universidad Northeastern Illinois, donde capacita a docentes sobre la integración del arte en los planes de estudio de padres y estudiantes de varias escuelas públicas de Chicago, Cicero y Berwyn. En el 2017, Ramón pintó el mural Aves de Illinois como parte del Proyecto Caracol en la Zona de Fauna Silvestre Burnham en el lago Michigan. El mural presenta aves de Illinois, así como glifos de aves tomadas de las culturas azteca y maya entre otras culturas antiguas de México.

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Reverend Izett Samá Hernández describes herself as a pastor, theologian, researcher, writer, and nurse. After completing a nursing degree, she went on to graduate from the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas Cuba. For her thesis project, she wrote an analysis of the participation of Black people in the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba. She now serves as the pastor at the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in the town of Los Palos, is a leader in the Presbytery of Havana, and is active in many ecumenical organizations.  In addition to her church, Hernández has worked for many years with the Centro Memorial Martin Luther King (CMLK) in Havana, Cuba, and in February of 2022 was elected as its Executive Coordinator. The CMLK is an ecumenical organization that strives for social justice with an emancipatory Christian inspiration. “We work from the popular education methodology, and all the people involved change their lives when they know the possibility of participating in the transformation of the community,” said Reverend Samá Hernández. “For example, the women’s group learns different occupations, and they have economic autonomy in their homes.

La Reverenda Izett Samá Hernández se describe como pastora, teóloga, investigadora, escritora y enfermera. Después de hacer una licenciatura en enfermería, estudió en Seminario Evangélico de Teología en Matanzas, Cuba. Para su tesis, hizo un análisis sobre la participación de las personas negras en la Iglesia Presbiteriana Reformada en Cuba. Ahora trabaja como pastora en la Iglesia Presbiteriana Reformada en el pueblo de Los Palos, es líder en el Presbiterio de La Habana y participa en organizaciones ecuménicas. Además del trabajo pastoral y religioso, Hernández ha trabajado durante muchos años con el Centro Memorial Martin Luther King (CMLK) en La Habana, Cuba, y en febrero de 2022 fue elegida su Coordinadora Ejecutiva. La CMLK es una organización ecuménica que lucha por la justicia social basada en el espíritu cristiano emancipatorio.

<<Trabajamos con base en los métodos de la educación popular, y los participantes cambian cuando conocen la posibilidad de transformar la comunidad>>, dijo la reverenda Hernández. <<Por ejemplo, el grupo de mujeres se capacita para diferentes oficios y así logran   una autonomía económica en sus hogares>>.

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by Jhonathan F. Gómez / July 5, 2022

I trust that you, like me and many around the world, are still celebrating and feeling the hope of the people’s victory in the recent presidential elections of Colombia. Just as we saw the hope of new beginnings in Chile and Honduras, this victory was only made possible by the unstoppable and ongoing work of social movements, particularly the resistance of Indigenous communities. In this moment of hope and celebration, we must also acknowledge that much has been sacrificed to get here. My optimism for this new chapter in Colombia’s history comes from people like Francia Marquez, the new vice-president. She is the first Afro-Colombian woman to hold that title and is a remarkable environmentalist and human rights defender. As she stated, “My task is to guarantee the rights of these excluded and marginalized territories, to guarantee rights for Afro-descendant and Indigenous populations.” Those words, backed by decades of work in defense of human rights, give me hope, and joy and fill me with energy.

On June 19, we reaffirmed our solidarity with the people of Colombia by leading a rally outside the Colombian Consulate. We gathered hours before the polls closed for the run-off to the presidential elections. This was an emergency action that we coordinated with Colombian election observers. We were happy that our sister organizations were present and signed a statement which we delivered to the staff at the Consulate. The statement was signed by eight Chicago organizations and demanded transparency, justice, and peaceful elections. The document was also a way to remind all of us that the United States has committed $453 million in defense aid to Colombia for 2022. A figure that we take seriously because this is the direct opposite of how aid should be spent. Defense aid is military aid, and the military does not support peace, democracy, or justice.

I’ll end with a poem by Colombian poet Gonzalo Arango.

Gonzalo Arango

Una mano
más una mano
no son dos manos

Son manos unidas
Une tu mano
a nuestras manos
para que el mundo
no esté en pocas manos
sino en todas las manos

Gonzalo Arango                                                                   
One hand
plus one hand
does not make two hands

They are hands together
join your hand
to our hands
so the world
is not in a few hands
but in all our hands

In permanent solidarity and resistance,

Jhonathan F. Gómez

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SAVE THE DATE! For CRLN’s 35th Annual Pedal for Peace: Bike/Run/Walk in Your Barrio.

The 2022 Celebration will take place on Saturday September 17. More details to come.

For the last 35 years people and organizations in Chicago have come together to fundraise in support of various projects in Latin America. This year we continue this unique tradition that connects us to the work for human rights and immigrant rights by partnering with Centro Romero, Center for Immigrant Progress, Chicago- Cinquera Sister Cities, Chicago-Guatemala Partnership and Concern America. Together we are supporting projects in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Immigrant Rights work in Illinois.  

This year we will continue to fundraise for six exceptional projects. Participants will request donations from friends and family to sponsor them. The donations are accepted electronically or by personal check sent by mail. And just like years before, there are many ways to participate.

* You choose the day for your activity
* You can Bike/Run/Walk alone or with family/friends
* Your activity can be on a path, a neighborhood streets, in a park, or on an exercise bike
* You can ask a friend or family member to donate to the projects in honor of your activity
* And send us many photo of yourself biking/running/walking

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Jhonathan F. Gómez at

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