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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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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:

 

 

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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.

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