image-title

CRLN is supporting the Detention Watch Network’s Campaign, #DefundHate, to cut funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. ICE has greatly expanded its detention of immigrants and now detains over 49,000 on a daily basis. Click here to read more about this on Detention Watch Network’s webpage.

Please send your name, address, and email address to shunter-smith@crln.org if you would like us to add your name to a letter that we will take to your Representative and Senators addressing this issue. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-2243121 and ask to be connected to your Representative and Senators. Here is a sample script:

“Hello, my name is [first and last name] and I’m a constituent from [City, State]. I’m calling as a member of CRLN and as part of the Defund Hate campaign. I just saw the news that ICE has been rapidly expanding the number of immigrants they detain on a daily basis, now over 49,000 people. This is an historic high that has resulted in the separation of tens of thousands of families. They have exceeded their Congressionally-authorized detention funding by about 9,000 immigrants per day Congress must put a stop to this–it cannot make concessions to an administration that refuses to negotiate in good faith. In addition, I am asking Representative/Senator X to commit to cuts in funding to ICE and CBP and restrictions on transfer and reprogramming authorities to prevent them from raiding other accounts to fund their expansion.”

Read More
image-title

CRLN Executive Director, Claudia Lucero, was invited to attend the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration conferences as a representative of NGOs present for consultation about immigration matters. She was present at the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Conference on December 10-11 in Marrakech, Morocco.

On December 19,2018, the U.N. General Assembly endorsed the Compact through a vote. 152 nations voted in favor of the resolution to endorse it, while the United States, Israel, Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland voted against it. 12 countries abstained from the vote.

Although not legally binding, the Compact is the outcome of a long negotiation process. The U.N. hopes it will provide a strong platform for international cooperation on migration, drawing on best practices and international law. In order to be effective, countries will need to implement this historic agreement and, hopefully, codify its provisions into their own national laws.

Once again, the U.S. has refused to cooperate with a groundbreaking international agreement that could improve the lives of migrants at its borders.

You can read the whole document by clicking on the link below:

https://www.un.org/pga/72/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2018/07/180713_Agreed-Outcome_Global-Compact-for-Migration.pdf

For statements made by representatives of the various countries in attendance, click on the link below:

https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/ga12113.doc.htm

Read More

Around 100 people gathered in the courtyard of the 4th Presbyterian Church on Tuesday night to sing, pray, and get equipped for action to keep families together by defunding ICE, restoring Temporary Protected Status, and supporting individual detention and deportation cases. As the sky grew darker, ArtWorks projected images on the side of the church building of an immigrant family that was separated in Detroit. We lifted up the more local case of a young woman, whose mother and brothers are seeking asylum and are sponsored by Lake Street Church in Evanston, while she remains detained in Texas and threatened with deportation.

Chris Inserra and singers she gathered led us in energetic group singing, Rev. Vicky Curtiss (4th Presbyterian Church) led us in prayer, Rev. Marilyn Pagan-Banks read inspirational poetry that reminded us of our power. Many leaders of faith communities and organizations –Rabbi Brant Rosen (Congregation Tzedek), Rev. Sara Wohlleb (Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants), Amy Shannon (Alianza Americas), Claudia Lucero (CRLN), Julian Lazalde (National Immigrant Justice Center) spoke eloquently about the cruelties of our immigration enforcement system and the way we mistreat asylum seekers, the need to cut ICE’s budget and to stop the expansion of private for-profit prisons, the need to prevent another round of family separations by finding a way for people whose Temporary Protected Status was revoked to stay in the U.S.

Here are some photos from the event:

 

 

Read More
image-title

In late August and September, CRLN alerted all U.S. Representatives from Illinois about a “Dear Colleague” letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions (initiated by Reps. McGovern, Pocan, DeLauro and Torres) calling on him to reverse his decision declaring domestic violence, gang violence and gender-based violence as invalid grounds for seeking asylum in the U.S. We followed up with more emails and phone calls and succeeded in getting 8 Representatives to sign on: Gutierrez, Schakowsky, Foster, Quigley, Rush, Danny Davis, Schneider and Kelly. If your Representative signed on, please send them an email or make a call thanking them for being part of an effort to protect people seeking asylum. If they did not sign, please contact them and ask why they did not. They cannot say that they did not know about it!  Below is the press release from McGovern’s office, with a link to the full letter:

Full Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives James P. McGovern (MA-02), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Norma Torres (CA-35) led 118 House Democrats – including 16 full committee Ranking Members – in a letter calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision declaring domestic violence, gang violence and gender-based violence as invalid grounds for seeking asylum in the United States. The letter comes just days after the Trump Administration issued proposed regulatory changes that would undermine the long-standing Flores court order by indefinitely holding asylum seekers in family detention.

The June 11th decision by Attorney General Sessions prevents victims of violence in some of the world’s most dangerous countries from seeking safety in the United States, and could condemn thousands of asylum-seekers to deportation, putting their lives in grave danger.

“We are deeply alarmed and outraged over a series of actions taken by you, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security that undermine or curtail the ability of migrants lawfully requesting asylum in the United States to present their claims,” the members wrote in their letter. “Taken together, these decisions, policies and practices have violated and shredded decades of precedent of U.S. law, careful jurisprudence within the immigration court system, and compliance with U.S. obligations under international law as a signatory to the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of the of the 1951 Refugee Convention.”

“The Trump Administration’s decision to block victims of domestic violence from seeking asylum here in the United States is unbelievably coldhearted and cruel” said Congressman McGovern. “Families in countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are being told that if they don’t relinquish their sons to gang life or their daughters to sexual slavery, they will be killed. If I were put in that situation, I would move heaven and earth to get my kids to safety. For us to turn a blind eye and deny asylum to these victim of gang and gender-based violence is just plain wrong.”

“Refusing asylum to people fleeing gang, domestic and gender-related violence goes against what we stand for as a country and the Trump Administration has ruthlessly turned its back on victims of abuse and violence. We have a legal and moral obligation to provide refuge for these victims, not treat them as criminals. Denying asylum doesn’t separate us from the terror and violence in other countries; it aligns us with the perpetrators. For many of these individuals, seeking asylum is a matter of life and death, and the Trump Administration must immediately reverse course and allow these cases to move forward,” said Congressman Pocan.

“The Trump Administration’s attack on asylum seekers is cruel and un-American. These restrictions are shamefully designed to discourage people who face legitimate danger from seeking sanctuary and security in our country,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “This nation must remain a haven for those who seek to escape violence and persecution. Asylum seekers flee imminent danger to get our help, and for many, this is a matter of life and death. Turning our back and ignoring the suffering of women, children, and families is disgraceful.”

“I am disgusted by this administration’s cruelty toward women and children who come here seeking safety, and I am proud to join my colleagues in calling on Attorney General Sessions to reverse course,” said Congresswoman Torres. “Many of the families coming from Central America are fleeing persecution and death threats from violent street gangs. We have a moral obligation to allow these asylum seekers to tell their stories, and to allow immigration judges to decide each case on its merits.”

According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, as well as the annual Small Arms Survey, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have some of the highest homicide rates not just in the Americas, but in the world, exceeding even most countries at war.

“The breadth of violence by dangerous non-state actors and domestic abusers reflects deeply-rooted social prejudice and persecution, as well as institutional cultures of impunity within law enforcement and the judiciary. To cavalierly dismiss them as mere lapses in effective policing only reinforces the bias that these lives have no value and may be abused and murdered without consequence,” the members wrote. “These violent non-state actors are kin to the violence perpetrated against civilians by ISIS or the Lord’s Resistance Army, and their victims should not be demeaned as criminals because they flee such daily terror, arrive at our borders and request asylum.”

The members also called on the Attorney General to:

• Direct law enforcement and border authorities to stop impeding access by asylum seekers to U.S. ports of entry;
• Stop prosecuting the misdemeanor of improper entry by asylum seekers who enter the U.S. between ports of entry and who voluntarily surrender to U.S. authorities; and
• Direct USCIS to recall its July 12th guidance that incorrectly instructs asylum officers to deny domestic violence and gang-related violence claims as a matter of course, rather on a case-by-case review.

Joining Representatives McGovern, Pocan, DeLauro and Torres on the letter were Representatives: 

Jerrold Nadler, Nita M. Lowey, Adam Smith , Eliot L. Engel, Adam B. Schiff, John A. Yarmuth, Richard E. Neal, Frank Pallone, Jr., Nydia M. Velázquez, Raúl M. Grijalva, Peter A. DeFazio, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Mark Takano, Joseph Crowley, John Lewis, Luis V. Gutiérrez, José E. Serrano, Lucille Roybal-Allard , Karen Bass, David E. Price, Jan Schakowsky, Judy Chu, Sander M. Levin, Linda T. Sánchez, Pramila Jayapal, Keith Ellison, Filemon Vela, Vicente Gonzalez, Gene Green, Al Green, Marc A. Veasey, Lloyd Doggett, Beto O’Rourke, Ruben Gallego, Ben Ray Luján, Dina Titus, Ruben J. Kihuen, Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Jackie Speier, Salud O. Carbajal, Anna G. Eshoo, Doris O. Matsui, Ted W. Lieu, Jared Huffman, Alan S. Lowenthal, Jimmy Panetta, J. Luis Correa, Grace F. Napolitano, Mike Thompson, Juan Vargas, Julia Brownley, Ro Khanna, Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, David N. Cicilline, Yvette D. Clarke, André Carson, Adriano Espaillat, Kathleen M. Rice, Alcee L. Hastings, Steve Cohen, Peter Welch, Donald S. Beyer, Jr., Bill Foster, Michael E. Capuano, Chellie Pingree, Mike Quigley, Gwen Moore, Hakeem S. Jeffries, Betty McCollum, Carolyn B. Maloney, Gregory W. Meeks, Marcy Kaptur, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Val B. Demings, Elijah E. Cummings, Albio Sires, Colleen Hanabusa, Bobby L. Rush, Jamie Raskin, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Debbie Dingell, Sean Patrick Maloney, Frederica S. Wilson, Wm. Lacy Clay, Earl Blumenauer, Danny K. Davis, Bradley S. Schneider, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Seth Moulton, Daniel T. Kildee, William R. Keating, Katherine M. Clark, Niki Tsongas, Rick Larsen, Ted Deutch, Tulsi Gabbard, Suzanne Bonamici, Darren Soto, A. Donald McEachin, Robin L. Kelly, Brenda L. Lawrence, Grace Meng, Brendan F. Boyle, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Anthony G. Brown, Thomas R. Suozzi, Denny Heck.

Read More
image-title

American Promise Act of 2017 (H.R. 4253) – House of Representatives

SECURE Act (S.2144) – Senate

 

Action: Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask to be connected to the office of your U.S. Representative, and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 4253, or thank them if they have already signed on. Representatives Kelly, Gutierrez, Quigley, Davis and Schakowsky of Illinois have already signed on.  Repeat the calls to the offices of your Senators. In Illinois, Senator Duckworth has signed on, but Senator Durbin has not. 

 

Background: Until the recent past, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for renewable periods of 6 to 18 months to immigrant applicants from countries in which civil unrest, violence, epidemic or natural disasters made it unsafe for them to return to their countries. In return, immigrants could get registration documents and authorization to work. Up through January 1, 2017, there were people from 13 countries eligible for TPS.

Under the Trump Administration, DHS is conducting a country by country review to assess whether or not to extend TPS. So far, DHS has ruled that TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Sudan will have to leave the U.S., despite continuing violence or lack of recovery from natural disasters in their countries of origin. TPS will continue for Syrians who came to the U.S. before August 2016, but those who came after that date cannot apply for TPS, despite the continuation of the war.

 

Bill summary: H.R. 4253 would change the status of eligible immigrants from 13 countries with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to a status of LPR, lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Immigrants would be eligible to apply if they were granted or were eligible for TPS status, or granted DED, on or before October 1, 2017. Immigrants must apply for this status change within 3 years of the bill’s date of enactment. After 5 years of LPR status, immigrants could apply to become U.S. citizens.

 

Status: Currently, it has 116 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, is in the House Judiciary Committee, and has been referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. In the Senate, it has 22 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Below are some talking points you can use:

  1. TPS holders have been in the U.S. for a long time and are well integrated into U.S. communities: Most TPS recipients have been in the U.S. for at least 15 years and many over a couple of decades. They have married U.S. citizens and/or have U.S. citizen children who were born here. It makes sense to naturalize TPS holders rather than deport them and separate them from their families and communities.
  2. TPS holders contribute a great deal to the U.S. economy. In addition, 88.5% of TPS holders are in the labor force, higher than the national average. They have jobs that are essential to the economic health of the U.S.Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS recipients alone are projected to contribute an estimated $164 billion to America’s GDP over the next decade, according to the American Immigration Council. The AFSC cites the $6.9 billion they contribute to Social security and Medicare. They pay income taxes. Their work is integral to large industries such as construction, home health care, and hospitality.
Read More
image-title

Contact SHunter-Smith@crln.org by June 20th to sign on! See copy of letter to Senator Durbin below. An identical letter will be sent to Senator Duckworth. 

 

June 21, 2018

Senator Richard J. Durbin
John C. Kluczynski Federal Building
230 S. Dearborn St., #3892
Chicago, IL 60604

Dear Senator Durbin,

We write to you as leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations and Organizations in the Greater Chicago area to ask that you personally contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to request a stay of deportation and release on order of supervision for Yesica Jovel (A-208276158). Her family, who have a pending case for asylum, is sponsored by Lake Street Church in Evanston. Yesica’s situation concerns us greatly for the following reasons:

1) First and foremost, as people of faith, we are grounded in our religious practices of welcoming the immigrant and the stranger. Our scriptures enjoin us to have the same laws governing immigrants that we have governing ourselves, to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves, to treat others as fellow children of the one God. We find ourselves living in a time and a place when immigration policy and enforcement practices are most egregiously counter to these tenets of our faith.

2) In Yesica’s case, we are alarmed that although her entire family had been threatened with death by MS-13 in El Salvador after gang members killed Yesica’s father, only Yesica’s mother and two brothers were allowed to come to Evanston to apply for asylum, while Yesica was separated from her family at the border and
coerced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to agree to deportation. This strikes us as an unfair application of the law as it pertains to asylum seekers; ICE took advantage of Yesica’s youth and inexperience to frighten her into agreeing to deportation, which is at the root of all that happened next. Our faith, in contrast, calls us to be particularly attentive to and protective of the most vulnerable among us.

3) In El Salvador, she went to live with relatives and was sexually abused by an uncle. She moved in with other relatives, but he kept hunting her down. MS-13 also learned that she was back in El Salvador and began persecuting her again. Finally, in desperation for her life, she fled again to the U.S., hoping to be reunited with her family. She was detained after crossing the border in Texas and has remained in detention for two years, despite the best efforts of Lake Street Church members and her lawyer to have her released. We believe she had no choice but to leave her
country given the threats against her life; given the trauma she experienced, she needs the comfort and care of her family to heal. Nevertheless, ICE and the courts in Texas, so far, have only focused on the fact that she crossed the border twice, instead
of questioning ICE’s separation of the family. Her lawyer is still appealing that ruling.

4)As a survivor of sexual assault, persecution, torture and the murder of her father, and as a lesbian,Yesica is a member of several protected social groups under international asylum law. We believe that Attorney General Sessions’ announcement last week removing membership in several of these social group categories as valid considerations for asylum puts the U.S. at odds with international law, with U.S. asylum case law since the 1990’s, and certainly goes against our religious mandate to care for the welfare of all God’s children. We hope that you and others in the Senate will challenge Attorney General Sessions’ new ruling on who qualifies for asylum.

 

We strongly support Lake Street Church’s efforts to advocate for a stay of deportation and release from detention for Yesica Jovel. We appeal to you to use the power of your office to personally contact ICE officials on behalf of her release so that the suffering of this young woman can end.

Sincerely,

Read More
image-title

11 CRLN staff, board and members will travel to DC April 20-23 for Ecumenical Advocacy Days and advocate for legislation that would improve the lives of immigrants. You can help us by giving your permission by Tuesday, April 17 to sign your name onto letters we will deliver to members of Congress or call your Representatives to support the following:

 

At a very high level, the federal budget for FY18 provides big increases in funding for both ICE and CBP. It provides $14.018 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $1.831 billion more than last year. It also provides $7.076 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), $641 million more than last year. $370 million of this increase is for “Custody Operations”, the account that funds immigrant detention.

 

ICE has a lot of discretion over how those extra $370 million will be used. This means there’s little to guarantee that number of people held in immigrant detention won’t increase. Given this, and given that we’ve been raising concerns since last fall that ICE would use claims of increased per diem costs to get more money to fund expansion, we remain gravely concerned about the risk of large scale expansion despite the negotiated ADP numbers.

 

Although the appropriator added new language requiring ICE to submit weekly reports about the number of people it is holding in detention, we will be asking members of Congress to aggressively intervene if/when ICE begins using its funding to expand detention.

 

If your Representative or Senator voted against the bill (for the right reasons, of course), we will make sure to thank them. If they voted for the bill, especially if they had previously joined a DefundHate letter or otherwise expressed support for cutting funds, we hope to hold them accountable for their vote. We ask that members of Congress continue to push publicly for significant funding cuts to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in the federal budget for FY19.

 

Resources:

Op-Ed – ‘We need a federal budget that values families, not one that destroys them’

Video Series – ICE lies, hides, and retaliates

Op-Ed – ‘These federal program incentivize policing. Why did Congress fund them?’

Read More