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(Photo by George Prentzas on Unsplash)

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a rule that would dramatically expand the collection of biometric data (DNA, iris scan, voice recording, face photo) from immigrants, asylum seekers, international religious workers, survivors of domestic abuse and sex trafficking, and U.S. citizens who sponsor or are in any way associated with an immigration benefit to or application from those listed above. This information would be collected from children as well as adults and stored in government databases indefinitely for unspecified purposes. CRLN is very concerned that it will be used for surveillance purposes.

We have until October 13 to submit written comments objecting to this rule change. You may submit comments on the entirety of this proposed rule package, identified by DHS Docket No. USCIS-2019-0007, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the website instructions for submitting comments. Please write now!

Thanks to CLINIC (Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.) for making us aware of this.

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No ICE Citizens’ Academy Two Sign-On Letters: one to legislators & another to the ICE Field Office Director

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No ICE Citizens’ Academy Two Sign-On Letters: one to legislators & another to the ICE Field Office Director

The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) & The St. Louis Interfaith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) are circulating these organizational sign-on letters directed to local, state and federal authorities to put an immediate stop to the implementation of ICE’s ‘Citizens Academy’ set to start in Chicago on September 15, 2020.

Reach out at JCHernandez@crln.org if you have any questions.
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The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) and the St. Louis Interfaith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) are circulating these organizational sign-on letters directed to local, state and federal authorities to put an immediate stop to the implementation of ICE’s ‘Citizens Academy’ set to start in Chicago on September 15, 2020.

Reach out at JCHernandez@crln.org if you have any questions.
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To:

As you know, at a time when the nation is being forced to grapple with systemic police violence, ICE has invited civilians in Chicago to engage “in scenario-based training and exercises conducted in a safe and positive environment, including, but not limited to defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests.” These actions by ICE are making the current environment even more frightening for immigrants and have raised alarm with local organizations and advocates across the country who see these types of training as potentially encouraging vigilantes to profile and target people in their communities.

The Trump administration’s power relies on the campaign of terror waged against migrants at the border and increased ICE raids at homes, on the street, at courthouses, and in workplaces. The administration has used escalated ICE presence in cities with policies that limit police collaboration with ICE, such as Chicago and New York, to threaten and intimidate these Cities. Of additional concern to the organizations is that ICE ERO is planning to hold this initial Academy in Chicago and include “scenario-based training and exercises” on firearms familiarization when just three years ago ICE agents shot an individual in Chicago during a raid.

We do not need citizens who feel empowered to further intimidate the most vulnerable in our communities. Additionally, we see this plan as an attempt by ICE to blur the public perception of the agency in order to get sympathy and erase the ways the agency has played into categorizing immigrants as dangerous criminals and justifying violent responses. These academies are part of strategies used by law enforcement to normalize violence and spread propaganda under the guise of improving community relations. Law enforcement agencies like ICE can’t improve community relations when they are part of the problem.

We believe that all people have inherent dignity and are deserving of basic human rights, including the freedom to live free from fear. The planned Citizens’ Academy will contribute to hostility towards immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the Chicago area.

We applaud the actions of Congressional representatives who are trying to cut off funding for this program. In recent days, the House Committee on Appropriations, successfully included an amendment to prohibit funding for this program in the Fiscal Year 2021 Homeland Security funding bill. Although these are positive moves in the right direction, the ‘Citizens Academy’ is still set to launch in Chicago this September. If allowed to move forward, the program would dangerously increase fear and discrimination against immigrant communities and lead to increased violence and racial profiling.

We call on the federal, state and local authorities to:

Prevent this academy: Private citizens should not feel empowered to fill in for police, ICE, or other authorities.

We, the undersigned, ask that you respond to our demand.

Letter 2

Letter to Robert Guadian

To: Robert Guadian, Field Office Director
Chicago.Outreach@ice.dhs.gov

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
101 W. Ida B. Wells Drive, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60605

RE: Enforcement and Removal Operations Citizens Academy

Director Guadian:

We, the undersigned, write to you today to express our concerns and ask you to put an immediate stop to the implementation of the agency’s new Enforcement and Removal Operations Citizens Academy (ERO-ECA) in Chicago. As local and national organizations supporting immigrant communities across the region, we are deeply troubled at the agency’s plan to provide scenario-based training “including, but not limited to defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests.” These actions by ICE are making the current environment even more frightening for immigrants, during a time when the nation is being forced to grapple with systemic police violence and racial injustice.

We are outraged by the prospect of ICE holding this training in Chicago and continue our commitment to protecting our undocumented neighbors. We denounce this plan to to recruit vigilantes in our communities. We do not need citizens who feel empowered to further intimidate undocumented people. Historically, Chicago ICE agents have used violence towards the people they target and use deceitful tactics to carry out raids in the area. The agency has also played into categorizing immigrants as dangerous criminals and justifying violent responses.

We believe that all people have inherent dignity and are deserving of basic human rights, including the freedom to live free from fear. The planned ‘ICE-ERO Academy’ will contribute to hostility towards immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We call on you to stop the implementation of the ICE Enforcement Citizen Academy. Private citizens should not feel empowered to fill in for police, ICE, or other authorities. If allowed to move forward, the program would dangerously increase fear and discrimination against immigrant communities and lead to increased violence and racial profiling.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Background

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

 

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

 

How to Participate

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

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

Policy Asks

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

We achieved some key victories.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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We had a very short timeframe–2 days–to get U.S. Representatives from Illinois to sign a letter asking the Department of Homeland Security to end the mis-named Migrant Protection Protocols, which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexican border cities indefinitely until their court cases come up. Now the deadline to sign has been extended until tomorrow, February 7!

Thanks to your calls, 9 Representatives from Illinois have signed on so far: Rush, Kelly, Garcia, Quigley, Danny Davis, Krishnamoorthi, Schakowsky, Foster, and Bustos. Please call and thank them if they are your Representative. Rep. Schneider’s staffer has contacted CRLN to say that they will have an opportunity tonight to put the letter before him, and they expect he will sign. We will keep you posted on his action. If your Representatives are Lipinski, Casten, or Underwood, or any of the Republican Representatives, please call again and emphasize that it is horrific that our country is forcing people who fled danger once to wait in areas without sanitary facilities, access to food and water or proper shelter, and where they are subjected to violence, extortion and kidnapping by organized crime.

When CRLN made calls from our office, many Congressional staff people thanked us for flagging the letter in what was a very busy week full of other nationally televised events: the Iowa Caucuses, the State of the Union Address, and the final day of the Senate impeachment trial.

Now we need to make an effort to get these same Representatives and more to sign onto H.R. 2662, the Asylum Seeker Protection Act, which would defund this cruel “Remain in Mexico” policy. So far, only Garcia, Schakowsky and Schneider have signed. If you are represented by one of these 3, please call and thank them. If not, please call your member of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 2662.

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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.”

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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

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