As members, we commit to the following:

  • To build networks of love and protection.
  • To make an impact on US policy toward Latin America and on immigration policy through education and advocacy.
  • To accompany our partners in Latin America who are leading the fight for human rights. We work with organizations of indigenous, African-descended, LGBTQ, women and others who are marginalized or threatened in their countries and are seeking social justice.
  • To build interfaith power for immigrant justice and act against unjust detention and deportations.
  • To participate in expanding sanctuary and meet other people and organizations resisting the criminalization of communities of color.

Membership Benefits Individual Congregational / Organizational
CRLN event tickets Advance notice and

10% discount on tickets

Advance notice, 10% discount on tickets  + 1 free ticket
Training Discounts on trainings Limited free spots in CRLN trainings plus a customized training for your congregation or organization
Input into annual programming Input at annual member meeting Input at annual member meeting
E-Digest, action alerts, issue updates & webinars Monthly E-Digest, action alerts, issue updates and invitations to webinars

 

Monthly E-Digest, action alerts, issue updates, invitations to webinars and promotion of your events related to campaigns
Other resources New member packet, interfaith toolkits and signage available for download

 

New member packet, interfaith toolkits and signage available for download as well as access to the CRLN resource library

 

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(Photo: CRLN staff and OCAD members at CRLN Luncheon, Celeste far right) Reflection by Celeste Larkin, CRLN Public Policy Coordinator, Aug 2012 – Dec 2016: The past four and a half years at CRLN have given me a profound and humbling time of learning, fighting, and advocating alongside a beautiful community that envisions a world where human rights are valued over profit—and, for this, I’m deeply grateful. I’ll be leaving CRLN by the end of this month and will take with me that vision and all that I’ve learned from CRLN staff, board, members, and—most importantly—undocumented people and organizers in Latin America who are fighting for their rights, their lives, and their lands.

As many people can imagine, working at CRLN is more than just having a job. CRLN gives people the chance to take risks and interrupt state violence in the service of transnational solidarity and migrants’ rights. I’ve been able to participate in international delegations wherein committed people from my town learn from and build relationships with organizers in other countries. I’ve helped coordinate speaker tours so that Latin American leaders come to Chicago to share their struggles and connect with people entrenched in parallel struggle here in the U.S. I’ve been able to work with CRLN members to hold our elected officials accountable and speak truth to power, making demands that support CRLN’s vision for world where imperialism & roots of forced migration can be named, checked, and—in the long haul—abolished.

In taking those risks and trusting each other, I’ve been blessed to build a community at this organization and I’m hopeful for the future of this work. That sense of hope is directly inspired by the efforts, principles, and labor of people leading these struggles from the front lines of Latin America and the undocumented community. I feel hopeful because of the base here in Illinois that has made CRLN what it is and that commits to the work ahead when the risks feel great and the country barrels forward toward heightened nationalism. I’m deeply grateful for the work of all of you reading this statement, and I hope you all know that, as we continue learning how to do this work better under ever-changing conditions, I’m thankful that you’re in this world and adding your grain of sand to the mountains being built throughout the hemisphere.

If you have questions about foreign policy and need to be in touch with CRLN staff, please contact Sharon Hunter-Smith at shunter-smith@crln.org and if you would like to be in touch about trade policy, please contact Claudia Lucero at clucero@crln.org. You can also call our office for any reason at 773-293-2964.

Celeste, La Coordinadora de Política Pública, Deja su Posición con Gratitud y Determinación

Escrito por Celeste Larkin, Coordinadora de Política Pública de CRLN, Aug de 2012 – Dic de 2016: Los últimos cuatro años y medio en CRLN me han dado una experiencia profunda y un sentido de humildad mientras aprendía, luchaba, y abogaba al lado de una bella comunidad que imagina un mundo donde los derechos humanos tienen más valor que el beneficio privado—y, por eso, estoy profundamente agradecida. Estaré dejando mi posición en CRLN al final de este mes y tomaré conmigo esta visión y todo lo que aprendí del equipo de CRLN, de nuestra junta directiva, de nuestrxs miembrxs, y—lo más importante—de la personas indocumentadas y organizadores de América Latina luchando por sus derechos, sus vidas y sus tierras.

Como muchxs pueden imaginar, trabajar en CRLN significa más que simplemente tener un trabajo. CRLN da a las personas la oportunidad de tomar riesgos e interrumpir la violencia del estado en el servicio de la solidaridad transnacional y los derechos de lxs migrantes. Yo he podido participar en delegaciones internacionales en las cuales gente de mi ciudad aprende de y construye relaciones con organizadores de otros países. He ayudado a coordinar giras de líderes Latinoamericanxs visitando Chicago para que compartan sus luchas y conecten con personas  involucradas en las luchas paralelas en los EE.UU. He podido trabajar con lxs miembrxs de CRLN para hacer a lxs oficiales públicxs responsables de sus decisiones y para que digan la verdad al poder. Al mismo tiempo, exigiendo que apoyen nuestra visión para un mundo donde el imperialismo y las raíces de migración forzada puedan ser nombradas, combatidas, y—en el largo plazo—abolidas.

Al tomar estos riesgos y confiar uno en el otrx , he sido bendecida al construir una comunidad en esta organización y tengo mucha esperanza para el futuro de este trabajo. Este sentido de esperanza está directamente inspirado por los esfuerzos, principios, y trabajo de las personas en las líneas del frente de estas luchas, desde América Latina hasta la comunidad indocumentada. También siento esperanza por la base aquí en Illinois que ha hecho CRLN lo que es y que se compromete a trabajar aun cuando los riesgos parecen demasiado grandes y el país avanza hacia un nacionalismo intensificado. Estoy profundamente agradecida por todo el trabajo que ustedes leyendo este mensaje han hecho y espero que sepan que, mientras seguimos aprendiendo cómo hacer mejor este trabajo bajo condiciones que siempre cambian, doy gracias que ustedes estén en este mundo añadiendo su granito de arena a las montañas de trabajo construidas por todo el hemisferio.

Si tiene preguntas sobre el trabajo de la política extranjera, póngase en contacto con Sharon Hunter-Smith a shunter-smith@crln.org y si tiene preguntas sobre nuestro trabajo en el asunto de los tratados de libre comercio, póngase en contacto con Claudia Lucero a clucero@crln.org. También pueden llamar a nuestra oficina para cualquier otra razón al numero 773-293-2964.

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Its All About People!

CRLN is a grassroots organization, working for justice and peace for the poor majorities in Latin America, and depends upon its members and a network of volunteers. Some of the ways volunteers assist CRLN include:

  • helping at CRLN events
  • assembling monthly mailings to CRLN members
  • writing human rights advocacy letters to officials in Latin America and the U.S.
  • organizing educational events and speakers in your congregation or in other organizations
  • hosting visitors from Latin America

Your special talents and interests may be of help in new endeavors – let us know what you can do and we’ll find a way to use your abilities!

Get Involved



You can answer God’s call to walk with the oppressed by getting involved at CRLN in many ways.

If you’re not already a member,

follow this link to learn about becoming one today

.

To learn more about how you can effectively advocate with your elected representatives,

follow this link

.

Change your life by participating in a CRLN delegation.

Learn more by following this link

.

Tell Me More

For more information, to volunteer in the office, or help in other ways, contact Sharon Hunter-Smith at

shunter-smith@crln.org

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CRLN is a community and a network.  We partner and collaborate
with organizations locally in Chicago and Illinois, as well as in other parts
of the U.S. and in Latin America.


Human
Rights


8th Day Center


American Friends Service
Committee


Catholic Relief
Services


Christian
Peacemaking Teams


Church World Service


Ecumenical
Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA)


Fellowship of Reconciliation


InterReligious Task Force on Central
America (Cleveland)


SOA Watch


US
Labor  Education in the Americas Project (US LEAP)


Witness
for Peace


Fair Trade


Chicago Fair Trade



Global
Exchange


Citizens Trade Campaign


TransFair
USA


Public Citizen/Global Trade Watch

Denominational Partners


Pre


sbytery of Chicago


Northern Illinois Conference of United Methodist Church


Illinois Conference of United Church of Christ


Office of Immigrant Affairs of Archdiocese of Chicago


Unitarian Universalist



Immigrant Rights


Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights


Immigrant Youth Justice League


Interfaith Immigration Coalition


Coalición de Derechos
Humanos (Arizona)


Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago


Jewish Council on Urban Affairs


National
Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC)




No More Deaths (Arizona)


Boston New Sanctuary Movement


Oregon New Sanctuary Movement



New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia


New York New Sanctuary Movement


Voces de la Fronta – Milwaukee New Sanctuary Movement


Policy, Advocacy and Research


Center for International Policy


Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance


Latin America
Working Group (LAWG)


North American Congress on
Latin America (NACLA)


United States Office on Colombia


Washington
Office On Latin America (WOLA)


Educational Partners (Local Chicago Partners)


Lutheran Volunteer Corps in
Chicago


Latin American Partners

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Among CRLN’s most vital partners are denominations, synods, judicatories and other representations of the institutional church.  The CRLN Advisory Board includes many of the leaders of these organizations.  Advisory Board members assist CRLN with denominational statements regarding Latin America, building relationships within denominations, congregations and communities, and in advocacy with legislators.


The Rev.Dr. Larry L. Greenfield


Interim Conference Minister

American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago

American Baptist Churches USA


BishopHee-Soo Jung, Ph.D.


Bishop

Northern Illinois Conference

United Methodist Church


Bishop John Manz
Archdiocese of Chicago
Catholic Church


BishopWayne N. Miller


Bishop

Metropolitan Chicago Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The Rev.Michael McConnell

Regional Director

Great Lakes Regional Office

American Friends Service Committee


The Rev.Dr. Robert C. Reynolds


Executive Presbyter

Presbytery of Chicago

Presbyterian Church (USA)


The Rev.Dr. Daniel Rodriguez Diaz


Professor Emeritus of Church History

McCormick Theological Seminary


The Rev.Paul Rutgers

Director

Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago


RabbiHerman E. Schaalman


Past President

Chicago Board of Rabbis

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Criterion for Adding a New Program Area to CRLN Work

CRLN works at the intersection of U.S. foreign policy, denominational public policy statements, and the call of human rights and religious communities in Latin America struggling with the hemisphere’s poor majorities seeking economic and social justice.

CRLN staff in consultation with the Coordinating Council, has added programming areas when:

  • U.S. policy is actively harmful to a particular country or group of countries;
  • Human rights and religious leaders in Latin America have challenged these harmful policies and called upon their counterparts in North America as well as U.S. government leaders to change them;
  • Religious denominations have made written statements challenging such unjust policies, especially when ecumenical consensus among various religious denominations has emerged.
  • A strong national policy organization exists taking leadership on the issue to resource CRLN;
  • A local issue specific solidarity group exists in Chicago to resource and partner with CRLN;
  • The Coordinating Council is largely committed to help develop the program area.
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by Alexandra Buck

Here in Menomonee Falls, it’s holiday season again: pumpkin pies, snowy days, and Christmas lights. But I can’t see any of this the way I used to, before I traveled to Colombia for two weeks in August. I went with a group from the Chicago Presbytery and the Chicago Religious Leadership Network. We met with church leaders who defend the human rights of people displaced by the armed conflict.

One especially difficult afternoon our delegation visited Afro-Colombian women heads of households who had been forcibly displaced from their villages around Colombia. Many of their husbands had been murdered, disappeared, or recruited by either paramilitaries or guerrillas, two groups in the armed conflict.

Felicidad, whose name means happiness, recounted the years before when she was forced to leave her village by an armed group and, with a small child holding her hand and pregnant with another, found shelter in the slums outside Bogota. Rosa told us about her three children whom she cannot afford to send to school and about the threats she has received to leave the corner of a warehouse she currently calls home. Juana shared the pain of having her 5 year-old son’s arm severed when hit by a truck in the road while she was searching for work to feed her family.

None of the women in the room receive sufficient reparation for their displacement to sustain their families. Worst of all, in many cases their status of displacement has been denied, thereby excluding them from compensation promised under government law.

After Juana spoke, we had snacks and conversation in fellowship, despite language differences and extreme divergences in our lived experiences.

Now, our delegation is fundraising money for a Day Care Center for these women’s children. The least we can do, after they shared their hurt lives and the little they have, is share some of our great wealth to fulfill one aspect of their need. With a Day Care center, the children will be secure, fed, and educated so that their mothers can work to support the family.

Experiencing the incredible faith of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and all of its partners gave me a deeper sense of faith than I have ever had. I am convinced that being faithful to our God means taking risks that challenge our comfortable involvement in political and economic systems that oppress our sisters and brothers all around the world. Following Christ means demanding that the ignored are heard, that the vulnerable are cared for, and that our selfish, worldly desires are de-prioritized in seeking a more equitable distribution of power and wealth. This is not politics; this is faith.

I feel urgently that it is time we as a Christian community stand up like our Colombian sisters and brothers to work for a more just, peaceful world as we are meant to do through the example of Jesus Christ. Jesus fought against the powers that oppressed. He challenged empires and governments. To call ourselves Christians in his name, we need to do the same. And Colombia is a perfect place to begin.

If you feel called to be in solidarity with our Colombian sisters and brothers, consider being an

Accompanier

. This is a program of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.  PCUSA is also in solidarity through policy and advocacy efforts, such as the

General Assembly Resolution 11-18

.

Instead of Christmas presents this year, I have asked my family and friends to donate the money they would have spent on my gifts to the Day Care project. I have all I need; others should receive from the abundance of this world.  We are still raising funds, so if you can contribute, please contact me as soon as possible.

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Your members of Congress owe their seat in Congress to votes from your district and state.  Money matters far more than it should in American politics, and it may often seem that members don’t listen.  But members of Congress

do

pay attention to their constituents, and

you

can have an impact.  Congressional offices count the letters they receive ON various issues, and

your action to send letter can have a direct effect on votes and actions

Most foreign policy issues aren’t front and center for members of Congress.  On a back-burner issue, even a small number of letters can make a BIG difference.

If you belong to a non-governmental, religious, grassroots or community organization, you can build a personal connection between your organization and your congressional offices on a set of issues that can significantly advance your cause.

Making effective phone calls to the Washington office of your members of Congress

  1. Ask to speak with the staff person responsible for the issue. On foreign policy issues, this will often be the foreign policy aide.

    If you know the appropriate staff person’s name who deals with your issue, so much the better.

    Give your name and tell the receptionist that you are a constituent (you will be more likely to get through to the aide).
  2. Introduce yourself very briefly to the staffer, explaining that you are a constituent and, if you belong to a local organization concerned about this issue, add that connection.
  3. Be specific about what you want the member to do.  Don’t just complain about an issue; say you want the member to vote for or sponsor a specific bill or amendment, or take a particular action, like sign a congressional “dear colleague” letter.
  4. Ask what the member’s position is on the issue.  If the staff person doesn’t know or won’t say what the member’s position is, ask what they, the staff person, will be recommending to the member.

    Ask them to learn what the member’s position is on the issue, and to get back to you with that information.

    Thank them for their time.
  • Recognize that congressional staffers are often very pressed for time. Make your message

    short and direct

    .

  • Be prepared to get voicemail.

    Prepare a brief one or two sentence summary of what you want to leave on voicemail. Do give your name and contact information. You may want to ask them to call you back. If it’s right before a vote, leaving your “plug” for the vote without asking for a call back may be sufficient.

Scheduling a meeting with your congressional office in D.C. or in your district

1. To make a meeting with your member of Congress or one of their staff, follow the same directions as above; but rather than telling them what you would like them to do over the phone, simply tell them which issue you would like to discuss in person, and ask them when they and/or the member would be available for a meeting to discuss your issue.
2. A very effective tactic is to organize a group meeting of constituents who can speak from a variety of backgrounds (academic, religious, business…) and ask for a meeting with the member himself/herself.
3. In order to schedule a meeting with the member, it is likely that you will be asked to fax a formal meeting request letter to the member’s scheduler. This is normal procedure.

Tips on congressional visits

1.

Introduce yourself and your local community links

(groups associated with, member of a board, etc). Say what you want to talk about, which issue and piece of legislation.
2.

Find something to thank them for.

If they’ve voted right in the past, make sure to mention that (it is a good idea to know your member’s voting record on the issue before you go into the meeting).

3.

Get the member or aide to talk.

Ask what the member’s position is on the legislation and why. Do they support specific amendments? How will they vote? This will give you a framework to shape your dialogue and address their issues.
4. Often you might be talking about an amendment that the member doesn’t know well.

Be prepared to explain the amendment

briefly and ask if she/he wants more information.
5.

Ask for something more and something specific

. Open with a specific request. If the member is already on your side, ask for something more. If the member is good on the issue, show her/him a list of needed representatives or senators. Ask which ones she/he knows well enough to ask to support getting favorable action on the amendment.
6.

Stay on message.

Don’t be put off by smokescreens or long-winded answers. Bring her/him back to the point. Keep control of the visit.
7.

Speak from your experience.

If you are meeting with your member’s office on Cuba and have traveled to Cuba or have heard a Cuban speak, share your story. You do not need to be an expert. Bring as many facts about which you feel comfortable to the table, but give stories from your experiences if possible. Don’t stray from the real facts, however!
8.

Present supporting documents

, such as relevant local editorials, denominational church statements, etc. Underline or highlight the most relevant portions of the document and reference the information as you hand it to the aide or member.
9.

Close the deal.

Get a commitment on your specific request. If you got a “yes,” then you are done. If not, ask what the member would need in order to do what you want. Then follow up on those concerns.

10.

Continue to build the relationship.

Relationships go through ups and downs, but they continue. Send a thank-you note. Keep in contact with the staffer as you receive new information or as votes approach. After the vote, give your member feedback-either thank her/him, or express your concerns if she/he voted against the amendment you were supporting.



Do’s

  • Do learn members’ committee assignments and where their specialties lie.
  • Do identify the aide(s) that handle the issues and build a relationship with them.
  • Do present the need for what you’re asking the member to do. Use reliable information.
  • Do relate situations in their home state or district to legislation.
  • Do, in the case of voting records, ask why the member voted the way she/he did.
  • Do show openness to knowledge of the counterarguments.
  • Do admit what you don’t know. Offer to find out and send information back to the office.
  • Do spend time even when the member has a position against yours. You can lessen the intensity of her/his opposition, or you might even change her/his position.



Don’ts

  • Don’t overload a congressional lobby visit with too many issues. One visit for one or two topics.
  • Don’t confront, threaten, pressure, beg or speak with a moralistic tone.
  • Don’t be argumentative; speak with calmness and commitment so as not to put the staff or member on the defensive.
  • Don’t use easy ideological arguments.
  • Don’t overstate the case. Members and staff are very busy.
  • Don’t expect members to be specialists; their schedule and workload make them generalists.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Don’t leave the visit without leaving a position or fact sheet in the office.
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CRLN’s Immigration Program invites congregations and faith communities to journey together to become Immigrant Welcoming Congregations. Through prayer, reflection, education, relationship building and action we will welcome immigrants and collectively work to bring that welcoming spirit to the whole community.

The Journey to Become an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation


1. Exploring our Faith:

Start with your faith.  Have an opening session with a group from your congregation to learn about what your faith says about welcoming immigrants and how to talk about immigration issues.


2. Education to Open our Hearts and Minds

Host an educational event in your congregation to expand your understanding of immigration issues and demystify common misconceptions about immigrants and immigration policies.


3. Relationships of Transformation

Create spaces to get to know people directly affected by current

immigration policies and begin to build relationships grounded in love and respect.


4. Prayerful Action

Through prayer and religious practice, find ways to be present with our immigrant sisters and brothers.


5. Affirming Our Commitment

Have a service that blesses and affirms your congregation’s commitment to being an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation” that engages the larger congregation, celebrates leaders who will help carry the ministry forward, and commit to be a part of the wider interfaith movement working for immigrant justice.

Living Out Our Commitment to being an”Immigrant Welcoming Congregation”


1. Emergency Response

Deportation leads to broken families, children without parents, and families without breadwinners. As people of faith, we have a duty to respond and support the immigrant community in concrete ways.


2. Public Action

When and where we see cases of injustice we will use our collective voice to actively take a public, moral stand for immigrant justice and human rights.


3. Continued Education and Relationships for Transformation

We know that learning is a continuous process and that living out our faith is never complete and we will continue to explore our faith, learn about current immigration issues and build relationships with our immigrant sisters and brothers.


Visit our

Facebook Page

for current news and action opportunities



Click here to return to the Immigration Program’s main web page

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