2010 Domestic U.S. Workshops

The Domestic Track will focus on immigration reform, refugee resettlement, and the experiences of immigrants and refugees living in the United States.  All workshops will provide information on the realities faced by immigrants, recommendations on policy solutions, and opportunities for people of faith to advocate for reform in D.C. and back in their communities.

 

Immigration Reform: Why We Need It and How to Get It

(Co-sponsored with Latin America Track)

Our communities need immigration reform now more than ever, but understanding how the different pieces of the U.S. immigration system fit together and how they need to be reformed can be difficult. This workshop will break down the policy goals and politics of immigration reform – including earned legal status for the undocumented, family unity, visa reform, worker’s rights, and enforcement efforts, as an introduction to the other workshops on the domestic track, which will dive into these issues more in depth. We will examine past immigration bills and current ones to determine what is best for immigrant communities, and will practice messaging support for immigration reform and how we can work together to advocate successfully for it. March 2010 is a critical moment and a policy window for immigration reform, so we must take this opportunity to enact immigration reform before the election cycles prevent it from being considered.

Speakers:

  • Jen Smyers, Associate for Immigration and Refugee Policy, Church World Service
  • Chris West, Community Organizer, Catholic Relief Services, Constituency Relations Support Unit

 

Broken Families: Consequences of a Broken Immigration System

Every day, immigrant families and children in the United States are negatively affected by the current broken immigration system. Even though our immigration system makes family unity a priority, family members must often wait years or even decades to reunite due to lengthy backlogs. In addition, the expansion and intensification of immigration enforcement, including detention and deportation, cause separation, fear, and trauma to families. Come and learn about how the U.S. immigration system impacts families and what you can do to help reunite families that have been unnecessarily torn or kept apart.

Speakers:

  • Sonal J. Mehta Verma, attorney, Duane Morris LLP
  • Emily Butera, Program Officer, Detention and Asylum Program, Women’s Refugee Commission
  • Kerri Sherlock Talbot, Chief Counsel, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

 

The Need for Detention Reform

Each year hundreds of thousands of men, women, and families with children are detained under immigration laws. Many are denied basic human rights and 107 people have died while in federal custody since October 2003. Last year the government used almost $2 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars to detain over 340,000 immigrants in a patchwork of privately run jails, federal facilities and county cells. Join the detention workshop to hear an overview of the immigration detention system and how you can become an advocate for reform. Participants will hear from a national advocate about the Obama administration’s efforts to begin to reform the detention system, an asylum-seeker who was released from government custody, a pastor who coordinates detention visitation programs, and from a community organizer about proven successful strategies to build awareness and effect change and from each other. Come learn the state of play and share creative and successful strategies that work for you!

Speakers: 

  • Rev. David Fraccaro, Interfaith Youth Corps; Alix Nguefack, Detention Project Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Right Program
  • Leslie E. Vélez, Legal Director, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)


Growing Injustice: Immigration and Public Education

Between 1995 and 2005 the percentage of English Language Learners in U.S. public schools grew by 57 percent, a trend that affects all kinds of communities—rural, suburban and urban. What do our laws and important court decisions say about access to opportunity for English language learners in public schools? How and why have public attitudes and public policy regarding bilingual education shifted radically over the past 40 years? How can immigration reform and passage of the DREAM Act improve the lives of undocumented students in the US? In the church will we be leaders advocating for well funded public schools that equip all children, honor their cultures, and celebrate diversity? We’ll consider these questions and learn how we can make a difference.

Speakers: 

  • Jan Resseger, (lay) Minister for Public Education and Witness, United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries
  • Hilda Crespo, Vice President for Public Policy and Federal Relations, ASPIRA Association

 

Welcoming Refugees to the U.S. in Difficult Economic Times

Resettlement can be a vital and truly life-saving option for victims of human trafficking, conflict and persecution, giving them a chance to begin a new life. Every year the United States welcomes thousands of refugees to our country from Iraq, Burma, Darfur, and other countries. Historically, refugees have quickly and successfully integrated into our communities. However, a combination of years of inadequate funding and the current economic crisis is making life increasingly difficult for refugees. Increasing numbers of refugees are living in poverty and facing homelessness, but this does not need to be the case. Learn about this amazing life-saving program, the challenges it faces, and how you can help provide a better life for refugees in the U.S.

Speakers: 

  • Anastasia Brown, Director of Refugee Programs for the Department of Migration and Refugee Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Shelly Callahan, Senior Director for Programs and Services, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Utica, NY
  • Mr. Saw Josiah, refugee from Burma; Rev. Rothangliani (Rothang) Chhangte, ordained American Baptist leader

 

Workers Rights for All

Because undocumented workers are a highly vulnerable population, they are frequently victims of wage theft and other abusive practices. Through a panel presentation, the Workers’ Rights for All workshop will provide a first person account of these abusive practices: a faith-based response to this ongoing exploitation of workers; an historical perspective of worker rights with a portrayal of the extent of current abusive practices; a description of the legislative responses required; and a detailed call-to-action on what participants can do both here in DC and at home. We will provide handouts with additional information, websites, and contact persons.

Speakers: 

  • Colin Rajah, Program Director, International Migrant Rights and Global Justice Program, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Manuel Aliaga, Director, Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Hispanic Pastoral Affairs; Ana Avendaño, Associate General Counsel and Director, Immigrant Worker Program, AFL-CIO
  • Edith Rasell, Minister for Economic Justice, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ

 

Humanitarian Crisis on the Border: How to Build Sensible & Humane Policies
(Co-sponsored with the Latin America Track)

The deaths of more than 5,000 migrants in a little over a decade along the U.S.-Mexico border demonstrates the need for increased recognition of their perilous journey. Community leaders in border states have come together to create guidelines for more humane border policies that take into account the needs of border communities as well as the lives and well being of migrants. This workshop will bring to light migrants’ stories through testimonies. We will discuss strategies for action from humanitarian groups who are responding to the dangers facing migrants, and outline a positive vision of what a sensible and humane policy at our U.S.-Mexico border should look like.

Speakers: 

  • Mark Adams, mission co-worker, Frontera de Cristo
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Director of Customer Relations, Café Justo
  • Pedro Rios, Director, US/Mexico Border Program, American Friends Service Committee

 

New Sanctuary Movement – Faith Communities Taking Direct Action to Help Immigrants
Join the NYC New Sanctuary Movement for a behind the scenes look at taking it to the streets: direct action on behalf of immigrants. Faith based advocates and the immigrant families with whom they are partnering will share their recent experience on behalf of Jean Montrevil, Haitian immigrant detainee and others. Meet Jean and other immigrants fighting detention and deportation. Learn how to use civil disobedience, fasting, street theater, coalition building, engaging the press and educating public officials to support immigrants in danger of deportation. Find out how to take your faith- based campaign nationwide with internet technology: on-line petitions, YouTube, Face Book and Twitter. Discuss what works and what to avoid. Find out how you can start a branch of the National New Sanctuary Movement in your community. Utilize the resources of Standing on the Side of Love to energize and maximize your efforts. Need more assistance when you get home? Sign up for our mentoring program. Be a part of the solution. Learn how you can make a difference by partnering with immigrant families who are struggling to keep their families together.

Speakers: 

  • Donna Schaper, Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church
  • Jean Montrevil, Sanctuary Family and Organizer, New York New Sanctuary Coalition
  • Fatoumata, Sanctuary Family, New York New Sanctuary Coalition
  • Ravi Ragbir, Community Organizer, New York New Sanctuary Coalition
  • Laurie Anderson, Coordinator for the National New Sanctuary Movement
  • Bill Quigley, Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights; Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights


Photo Credit: Marc DelMonico (c) 2005. Used with permission. Click to contact photographer

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