Sharon Hunter-Smith is the Office Manager and Human Rights Coordinator for CRLN, managing office finances and bookkeeping and supervising volunteers and service learning students who write letters in response to human rights alerts.

She graduated from Wittenberg University with a B.A. in Religion, from McCormick Theological Seminary with an M. Div. degree, and from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago with an M.A. in Historical Theology.

A member of University Church (UCC/Disciples of Christ) in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Sharon travels yearly to Guatemala as part of the congregation’s partnership with ACG–a Mayan community organizing and development association—and Saq Ja’, a Mayan community rebuilt after the destruction of the war years.

She has also traveled to Honduras as a human rights observer with La Voz de los de Abajo and to El Salvador with CRLN.

Email Sharon at:

shunter-smith@crln.org

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U.S. organizations

AFL-CIO

Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI)

Alianza Americas

Alliance for Global Justice

American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), Local 3354

American Friends Service Committee

American Jewish World Service

Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition (BALASC)

Benedictine Sisters of Erie

Bernardine Franciscan Sisters OSF

Brooklyn Greens/Green Party

Casa Baltimore/Limay, MD

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

Center on Conscience & War

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL)

CIP Americas Program

Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)

Church Women Umited in New York State

Climate Justice Committee of the Rochester, Minnesota Franciscans

CODEPINK

Colombia Human Rights Committee

Columbian Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, AFSC Colorado Office

Congregation of Notre Dame US Province – Justice and Peace Office

Congregation of St. Joseph Peace and Justice Team, Nazareth, MI

Congregational UCC Global Ministries Team, Ashland, Oregon

Denver Justice and Peace Committee

Dominican Sisters – Grand Rapids, MI

Dominican Sisters of Houston

8

th

Day Center for Justice

Human Rights Observation Honduras

Family Farm Defenders

Fellowship of Reconciliation USA

Friends of Latin America

Friendship Office of the Americas

Friends of the Earth

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Grassroots International

GreenFaith

Greenpeace

Guatemala Human Rights Commission

Guatemala Solidarity Project

Indigenous Environmental Network

Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project

International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – US Committee

International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity for the Peoples

International Labor Rights Forum

Jesuit Conference of  Canada and the United States

JASS (Just Associates)

Just Foreign Policy

Justice Commission Committee of the Sisters of Providence

Justice, Peace and intergrity for Creation Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Indigenous Environmental Network

Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights

Intercommunity Ecological Council of LCWR Region 10

International Action Center

Inter Religious Task Force on Central America, Cleveland, OH

Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America

Latin America Solidarity Committee–Milwaukee

Latin America Task Force of Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice, Michigan

Latin America Working Group LAWG

La Voz de los de Abajo, Chicago

Leadership Team of the Felician Sisters of North America

Leicester Masaya Link Group

MADRE

Mayflower Church Global Justice Advocacy Team, MN

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light

Minnesota National Lawyer’s Guild

National Immigrant Solidarity Network Action LA Coalition

National Lawyers Guild

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala/NISGUA

New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light

Nicaragua Center for Community Action (NICCA)

Occupy Bergen County

Oceano Organics Co-Op

Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity – Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Other Worlds, U.S.

OWS Special Projects Affinity Group

Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples

Pax Christi International

Peace Action of Staten Island

Peace House Ashland, OR

Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane

Pesticide Action Network North America

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

Presbyterian Church USA

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Quixote Center

Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Western American Province

Rights Action, Canada

Rights Action, USA

Rights and Ecology

School Sisters of Notre Dame in Honduras

Sierra Club

Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, TX

Sisters of Charity of New York Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team

Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, Justice and Peace Office

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, Province of USA & Canada

Sisters of the Precious Blood

Sisters of Providence Leadership Team of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN

St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America

SHARE Foundation

SOA Watch

SOA Watch. Boulder CO

SOA Watch, Oakland CA

SOA Watch, San Francisco CA

Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville (SAL)

Task Force on the Americas

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, US Region

Thousand Currents

TONATIERRA

Trade Justice New York Metro

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

US Peace Council

United Steel Workers (USW)

Veterans for Peace

Win Without War

WITNESS

Witness for Peace

Witness for Peace Midwest

Witness for Peace Northwest

Witness for Peace Southeast

Witness for Peace Southwest

World March of Women, US Chapter

350 New York City



Honduran organizations

Asociación de Jóvenes en Movimiento (AJEM)

Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia (AJD)

Asociación de Mujeres Intibucanas Renovadas (AMIR)

Asociación Feminista Trans (AFeT)

Asociación FIAN Honduras

Asociación Hermanas Misioneras de San Carlos Borromeo Scalabrinianas

Asociación Intermunicipal de Desarrollo y Vigilancia Social de Honduras (AIDEVISH)

Asociación LGTB Arcoiris de Honduras

Asociación Nacional de Personas viviendo con SIDA (ASONAPVSIDA)

Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI-PARTICIPA)

CARITAS – Diócesis de San Pedro Sula

Centro de Derechos de Mujeres (CDM)

Centro de Desarrollo Humano (CDH)

Centro de Educación y Prevención en Salud, Sexualidad y Sida (CEPRES)

Centro de Estudios de la Mujer Honduras (CEM-H)

Centro de Estudios para la Democracia (CESPAD)

Centro de Investigación y Promoción de Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH)

Centro para la Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Víctimas de la Tortura y sus Familiares (CPTRT)

Coalition Against Impunity

Colectivo Diamantes Limeños LGTB

Colectivo Gemas

Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos de Honduras (COFADEH)

Comité de Familiares de Migrantes Desaparecidos de El Progreso (COFAMIPRO)

Comité por la Libre Expresión C-Libre

Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos de la Zona Nor Occidental

Crisálidas de Villanueva

Coordinación de Instituciones Privadas por las niñas, niños, adolescentes, jóvenes y sus derechos (COIPRODEN)

Equipo de Monitoreo Independiente de Honduras (EMIH)

Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC-SJ)

Feministas Universitarias

Familia Fransciscana de Honduras (JPIC)

Frente Amplio del COPEMH

Foro de Mujeres por la Vida

Foro Nacional para las Migraciones (FONAMIH)

Foro Social de la Deuda Externa y Desarrollo de Honduras (FOSDEH)

Indignados Unidos por Honduras

JASS en Honduras

Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ)

Movimiento Diversidad en Resistencia (MDR)

Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz “Visitación Padilla”

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By Janis Rosheuvel from the United Methodist Women and CRLN leaders Pastor Lilian Amaya and Lissette Castillo, published on CommonDreams:


The crisis of incarceration this nation now faces demands people of faith act with swift and fierce moral authority to transform, not just reform, an irreparably broken system. It demands that all of us—clergy, seminarians, teachers, and people in pews, mosques and temples— provoke a revolution of values that strikes at the heart of mass incarceration. Without exception, we believers are required to realize a just world. This is our call, and we are falling short when it comes to how we treat those in jails, prisons and detention centers.

Thanks to powerful community organizing and mobilization many more people are cognizant of why mass incarceration must end.  Many of us already know the numbers: 2.3 million human beings locked down, as many as 9 million under some form of correctional control, including parole, probation or awaiting their day in court and almost 500,000 people passing through civil immigration detention annually. Growing numbers of us—particularly if we are poor, female, Black, Brown, immigrant, and or have mental health conditions—are facing incarceration or have loved ones who are. We know that the U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation on earth, approximately 700 persons per every 100,000. And we know that the racially biased “War on Drugs” has in the past 40 years incarcerated hundreds of millions of people for largely nonviolent drug offenses, tearing families asunder in the process.

Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary of the Chicago-based Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and a leading voice in the faith community calling for an end to mass incarceration, says that we are in effect “a nation in chains.” If Dr. Carruthers is right, and she is, people of faith are being called to reject the dangerous mythologizes about why so many mainly poor Black and Brown people are incarcerated in the first place. Despite public perceptions, poor people of color are not more likely to use or sell drugs than their white counterparts. So what explains the disproportionate ways we are locked up?

To begin with, we are seeing the devastating results of the “tough on crime” rhetoric of the past four decades. Public policies like “stop-and-frisk,” “broken windows” promote over policing of minor offenses, which are the gateway to incarceration. Even as we write this piece, the nation is watching the unfolding of yet another case in which a young Black woman, Sandra Bland of Chicago, who ends up arrested, assaulted and dead in a jail cell after being stopped by a policeman in Texas for changing lanes without signaling while driving home from a job interview. “Zero tolerance” policing, the mass detention and deportation of millions of immigrants and a congressional bed quota mandate that requires immigrant detention centers to hold 34,000 people in the system each night, have all created a pipeline that forces targeted communities into a system not about rehabilitation, reconciliation and restitution, but about the social control of Black and Brown bodies. Indeed, the same companies that profit from the criminalization and mass incarceration of Black and Brown people, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, are reaping record profits at the expense of these chronically dehumanized and marginalized communities. In 2014 alone, these two corporations made nearly $470 million in revenue.

The historic and pervasive criminalization of communities of color in the United States is a key building block of the current system of mass incarceration.  As author and scholar Michelle Alexander deftly lays out in her seminal work The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, mass incarceration is largely about continuing to ensure the nation has a permanent, subservient and disenfranchised underclass whose very bodies and movement are caged and controlled. As Alexander has said, “Once you are labeled a felon you’re trapped for the rest of your life and subject to many of the old forms of discrimination in job applications, rental agreements, loan applications, school applications…Those labeled felons are even denied the right to vote.” And for immigrants, the reality of interacting with the criminal justice system often means entering a treacherous path toward, criminal incarceration, immigration detention, eventual deportation and a permanent bar to rejoining family in the United States.

Faith communities have been doing good work to resist mass incarceration: sponsoring conferences, reading, writing, visiting those in prison and more. Still more is required of us. We must LISTEN to those most impacted by the current crisis—people in jails, prisons, immigrant detention centers and their families. We must hear their stories without judgement or false moralizing. And we must listen to the solutions they have developed to resist and upend these oppressive systems. They must lead us. We must also continue to EDUCATE our communities and leaders about the current realities of the system. But it is not enough to raise consciousness we must also use our moral voice to regularly interrupt the ongoing harm that unjust socio-economic and political systems cause. And we must ACT/RESIST in ways that undermine business as usual. Street protests? Policy reform? Anti-racism workshops? Mobilizing alongside impacted communities? Transformation will not happen unless our actions engage these and many more forms of resistance. This is our call.

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Please share this message from our friends at Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD).

“No me quiero morir aquí” – Wilmer, 6/17/17

#ReleaseWilmer

Wilmer y Celene han estado luchando por su liberación desde que Wilmer fue detenido violentamente en Marzo. Wilmer esta parcialmente paralizado y los guardias adentro del centro de detención lo han estado lastimando a propósito. Recientemente se callo y su salud se a puesto en peor condición. Por favor ayúdanos demandar su liberación.

Please call and leave this message:

Script: Hello, I am calling to ask Director Ricardo Wong for the immediate release of Wilmer Catalan Ramirez, A#(098 500 300). Wilmer is in a life-threatening situation at McHenry County detention facility, and must be released to get the medical attention he needs. There have been too many deaths in ICE custody this year

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For over two years, the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) has been one of the organizations that coordinates a pastoral care program for unaccompanied children arriving at our borders in search of safety and refuge. Many of the children that we meet are undoubtedly among the most vulnerable children on the planet, escaping unimaginable violence and poverty. Just as we have committed to stand by them and to fight for the protection of their basic rights, today we express our full support and solidarity with the community leaders at Dyett who have been on hunger strike for more than two weeks now to save Dyett High School, Bronzeville’s last publicly-operated, open-enrollment, school from closing.

In Latin America, violence takes many shapes; sometimes violence manifests itself through violent crimes and actions that are carried out with near impunity, often by government officials themselves. Sometimes it can take on subtler forms: deprivation of economic opportunity, quality education, healthcare coverage, and of other factors which are so essential to the ability of individuals to lead dignified human lives. We interpret the closing of public schools, primarily in Black and Brown communities throughout Chicago, in the same way that we understand schemes of privatization and dispossession in Latin America: as an act of violence against communities of color.

As immigrants, the sons and daughters of immigrants, volunteers with the unaccompanied children, and people of faith committed to immigrant justice and justice in Latin America, we are humbled by the valiant actions of the Dyett 12 whose fast is reminiscent of the causes of justice described in the Bible.


“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”

Isaiah 58:6

We applaud the Dyett 12 and stand by their decision to resist injustice, to take–as so many immigrants have been forced to do–their children’s future into their own hands, even if and when this means risking perilous journeys, enduring hunger, and risking one’s health. We are confident that they will prove victorious in their quest and also call on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others to put into action the proposal for a Global Leadership and Green Technology High School that the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School helped develop, reminding the Mayor that “

if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Isaiah 58:10

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In December of 2016, Wellington Ave. UCC welcomed through sponsorship two asylum seeking families in their request for asylum in the United States.  One of the families includes Maria, her sister Anna, and Maria’s daughter Elena. They are requesting protection from the U.S. government because they have been targeted by a powerful, criminal organization in Guatemala after they stood up to the organization by reporting their activities to the police.
Although Maria, Anna, and Elena all requested asylum together at the Mexico-U.S. border in December,

immigration officers cruelly separated the family

.  Maria and Elena were allowed to come into the United States and now reside in Chicago with the support of Wellington Ave. UCC and their pro bono attorneys.  However, Anna – who is only 20 years old –has been held in immigration custody in the Eloy Detention Center and has not seen her sister or niece since December. This separation has caused Maria and Anna much stress and anxiety and also makes it more difficult for them to obtain asylum in the United States because their cases will proceed separately.
An immigration judge is expected to allow Anna to be released on bond soon, but the bond amount is likely to be too high for Anna and Maria to pay.

The bond could be between $10,000-$20,000 and must be paid in full.

If she is able to pay her bond, Anna will be able to reunite with Maria and Elena here in Chicago and they will be able to seek asylum together as a family.

NOTE: If bond is not set, or once it is paid, your donation will be used to support the families’ expenses

, which are over $1200 per month for living costs including food, transportation, medical, dental, education, and support of Anna in detention.

If you prefer to make a tax-exempt donation

, you can send a check to Wellington Ave UCC with “IJTF Bond Fund” in the memo line. Send to: Wellington Ave UCC, 615 W Wellington, Chicago IL 60657
* Note: Names have been changed for safety reasons.
—————————-
En diciembre 2016, la iglesia Wellington Ave. United Church of Christ dio la bienvenida a dos familias buscando asilo en los EEUU. La familia incluye Maria, su hermana Anna, y su hija Elena. Las dos familias están pidiendo protección del gobierno de los EEUU porque fueron intimidados por parte de una organización criminal y poderosa de Guatemala después de resistir la organización y reportar sus actividades a la policía.
Maria, Anna y Elena pidieron asilo juntas en la frontera México-EEUU en diciembre. Desafortunadamente, los oficiales de inmigración las separaron en un actocruel. Inmigración le dio permiso a Maria y Elena de llegar a los EEUU. Ellas ya viven en Chicago, apoyadas por Wellington Ave. UCC y abogados pro bono. Sin embargo, Anna – que tiene solo 20 años – sigue detenida en Eloy Detention Center. Ella no ha podido ver a su hermana ni a su sobrina desde diciembre. Esto ha puesto a Maria y a Elena muy estresadas y ansiosas y se les ha hecho mucho más difícil lograr asilo en los EEUU, porque sus casos no pueden ser procesados juntos.
Anticipamos que muy pronto un juez de inmigración liberare a Anna con una fianza. Pero anticipamos que la fianza será demasiada cara para Anna y Maria. La fianza podría ser dentro de $10,000-$20,000 y se tiene que pagar en su total. Alpagar, Anna podra reunirse con Maria y Elena aquí en Chicago y podrán pedir asilo juntas como una familia.
NOTA: Si no se pone una fianza o una vez que se pague la fianza, los fondos restantes seran utilizados para los gastos diarios de la familia que son más de $1200 cada mes por comida, transporte, atencion medica y dental, educacion y para apoyar a Anna adentro del centro de detencion.

Si prefieren hacer una donacion exento de impuestos

, se pueden mandar un cheque a Wellington Ave UCC con “IJTF Bond Fund” en la linea “memo”. Manden a: Wellington Ave UCC, 615 W Wellington, Chicago IL 60657
*Para seguridad, hemos cambiado los nombres.
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