At the 2019 General Assembly of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore, the outgoing chair of the Committee on Migration (and Catholic Bishop of Austin), Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, concluded his report with "good practices for helping immigrants." Topping the list was the IAF parish identification strategy.
Parish identification emerged as a strategy in Dallas after passage of Texas Senate Bill 4, which allows law enforcement officers to ask residents about their immigration status. With no access to state drivers licenses, undocumented immigrants were concerned that otherwise benign traffic stops could result in deportation. Police departments were worried their officers would not be trusted in immigrant communities. As a way to address both concerns, 1,500 Dallas Area Interfaith leaders and their Bishops negotiated acceptance of parish ID cards with five North Texas police departments.
The parish ID strategy soon spread to Baltimore in collaboration with IAF sister affiliate Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) and, most recently, to the Diocese of Brownsville (along the US-Mexico border) in partnership with Valley Interfaith, Catholic Charities and the police departments of Brownsville, McAllen and Edinburg.
Bishop Vasquez recognized the Catholic (Arch)dioceses of Baltimore, Dallas and Brownsville for "fostering a sense of belonging & security." So far in Dallas, 12,000 identification cards have been issued through DAI member congregations, fortifying family connections to congregations and strengthening parish collections in the process.
Remarks by Bishop Jose S. Vásquez, US Conference of Catholic Bishops General Assembly Remarks
How Parish IDs Can Help Foster Communities of Welcome, Justice for Immigrants [Notes]
How Parish IDs Can Help Foster Communities of Welcome, Justice for Immigrants [Webinar]
At a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) General Assembly reception in Baltimore, Pima County Interfaith (PCI) organizer Ana Chavarin was awarded the Cardinal Joseph Bernadin New Leadership Award. Each year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) honors individuals, like Ana, who "demonstrate leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions."
Having worked with PCI for the past four years, Ana was originally nominated by the Diocese of Tucson’s Office of Human Life & Dignity. Said Sr. Leonette Kochan, the department's former director: “Ana's Catholic faith motivates and inspires her role as a parent, faith community member, and leader in the wide range of social outreach initiatives in which she participates. Her courageous determination and the support of others found expression in her life of service to others, especially in programs that empower the lives of others. As a person who faces economic struggles as a single parent of four children, Ana also leads by example in balancing family life with work, while pursuing a college degree.”
In 2018 she won a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) award for Hispanic Catholic Leaders and was also recognized by the Arizona Daily Star for her community achievements (see links further below).
[In photo, Ana Chavarin prepares Spanish-speaking parish ministers for leadership.]
Once Cheated, Community Leader Now Helps Others Speak with United Voice, Catholic News Service [pdf]
Neto's Tucson: Ana Chavarin is a Single Mom, an Immigrant and a Success, Arizona Daily Star [pdf]
Ana Chavarin knows what it’s like to be cheated and dismissed as an immigrant without legal status in this country.
It happened repeatedly after she and her then-husband and three young children relocated to Tucson, Arizona, in 2003 from the border town of Agua Prieta, Mexico, for work.
Chavarin, now a legal permanent resident, recalled how an employer failed to pay her for all the hours she worked cleaning rooms at one of Tucson’s top-end hotels. The boss threatened to report her to immigration officials if she complained too much.
It happened to her husband in his job, too.
At home, when she asked the landlord to fix a leaky faucet, her request was ignored.
Such situations were frustrating, Chavarin said, because being stifled from addressing injustice was not something to which she was accustomed....
Once Cheated, Community Leader Now Helps Others Speak with United Voice, Catholic News Service [pdf]
Only a few months after Spanish-language leadership development training was held in collaboration with the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, immigrant parents have begun to organize to better advocate for their children in public schools.
An opportunity emerged when Sandra, a member of El Carmen Catholic Church in San Antonio, attempted to join her son at his elementary school for lunch. She was barred from entering the campus due to a district policy that parents present a Texas ID. Sandra does not have -- and cannot obtain -- a Texas ID. When COPS/Metro leaders requested a meeting with the Superintendent to discuss the policy, they were denied.
Soon, 55 COPS/Metro leaders from El Carmen Catholic joined Sandra at the next Southside ISD School Board meeting and stood by her as she directly addressed the board. “I want to be part of his education. I want to be there every step of the way. But the district is not allowing me to do so at this time, and I would like that to change.” COPS/Metro is requesting a change to the policy so that all parents can access their children's schools.
That night, the Board President alerted leaders that the Board would work with COPS/Metro to resolve the issue. Officials from the district also agreed meet with leaders to resolve the issue.
[Photo Credit: Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio]
San Antonio Parents Without Texas IDs Barred from Southside ISD Schools, Texas Public Radio
Southside ISD's ID Policy Has Some Parents Complaining it Leaves Them Out of Kid's Schooling, San Antonio Express-News
In collaboration with Catholic Bishop Daniel Flores, 500 Valley Interfaith leaders packed a hall in Las Milpas to publicly launch a parish ID strategy for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Developed in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and three law enforcement agencies, new parish-issued identification cards will show a photo of the cardholder, name, date of birth, address and how long the cardholder has been a member of their parish.
Bishop Flores emphasized: “The ID means something more than simply its implication that you have an identification...it means something much deeper: ‘I belong to a parish, and so in this community, I am not living in the shadows.’”
On behalf of Catholic Charities, Sr. Norma Pimentel presented a $10,000 check to pay for printers for new ID cards.
Representatives from the police departments of Pharr, McAllen and Edinburg participated in the assembly, pledging to accept these cards as a form of valid identification in the event anyone needs to identify themselves to the police -- whether on a traffic stop or when filing a report.
“Too much of the focus is on the national and state conversation regarding immigration,” said Franciscan Father Tom Luczak, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Edinburg. “This is a local strategy that gives my own parishioners the dignity of being able to identify themselves to a police officer. “This will positively affect them."
[Photo Credit: photo above by Francisco Jimenez, The Monitor; photo at right by Paul Binz, The Valley Catholic]
IDs Give Parishioners Way to Say, 'I Belong,' Regardless of Legal Status, National Catholic Reporter
Diocese, Valley Interfaith Team Up to Offer a New Kind of ID, The Valley Catholic
Valley Interfaith Clarifies Parish ID Strategy, The Monitor
Valley Interfaith to Launch Local Parish ID Strategy, The Monitor [pdf]
Ever since participating in a DAI leadership training two years ago, Lily Rodriguez (photo top right) of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Dallas has been very motivated to bring its teachings to life, actualizing them by helping her community.
The training sought to prepare parish leaders to support the civic development of their parish communities, particularly those from immigrant backgrounds.
That's how the "Sunshine Committee" in which Rodriguez participates, along with 24 other volunteers, came to be. Members of the committee disseminate flyers, make calls, organize, sign up and help in community-oriented activities. The most popular workshops are those focusing on US citizenship and parish IDs -- created and implemented by the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and DAI for more than one year....
Comité Parroquial es Semilla de Cambio Cívico, Revista Católica de Dallas
Over 100 East Austin congregational members and officers packed the house at Holy Cross Catholic for Austin Interfaith's Community Policing Civic Academy. The event was jointly hosted by leaders from Holy Cross, Ebenezer Baptist, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic and Mount Olive Baptist Churches.
In this session, congregational leaders told stories, shared a brief history of community policing and broke out into small groups for conversations rooted in local experience.
In 2015, an effort to carve out a southeast portion of East Baton Rouge to form a new city called St. George failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot.
This year, proponents returned with a similar proposal to breakaway, but under significantly different conditions. Together Baton Rouge leaders point out that figures utilized by proponents of the St. George breakaway effort don't quite add up. In addition to a significant drop in ethnic diversity within newly drawn lines, residents would likely be faced with immediate tax hikes and public safety subsidies to make the finances work.
Civic academies about the upcoming vote have drawn significant crowds, including one session (photo above) at St. Margaret's Episcopal which drew 150 residents and congregational leaders. A teaching on public finance, delivered by local professors, informed small group conversations led by local leaders.
According to Together Baton Rouge,"We heard from a variety of voices and opinions, but the one thing that was clear is there is a strong desire for more honest information about what the true cost of the breakaway would mean, both for those in St. George and the larger EBR Parish." The vote on whether to form a breakaway city is set for October 12th.
Catholic Labor Network Credits IAF Leaders with Establishing Effective Long-Term Job Training Programs
....Quest has "the largest, sustained earnings impacts ever found in a rigorous evaluation of a workforce development program," writes Mark Elliott of Economic Mobility Corporation.
How does Quest succeed? It emerged as a project of two community organizations affiliated with Industrial Areas Foundation. With skillful discipline those organizations, starting in the mid-1970s, formed extensive public relationships, including several with area businesses. in the early 1990s the IAF leaders decided to use their social capital on behalf of the underemployed. Job training should match the actual needs of known employers, the IAF leaders thought. Plus the trainees deserved sustained ancillary service, including financial planning. Quest's employer- driven model of training as been exported to other Texas communities, plus to Tucson and Monroe, LA. Recently, another IAF group, DuPage United, launched a Quest-like job training program.
Taking the Initiative In Job Training, Initiatives in Support of Christians in the World
Albuquerque Interfaith leaders reflected together on the theological foundations underpinning their spring and summer efforts in support of Central American asylum seekers at an event hosted by Monte Vista Christian Church. Seven faith leaders shared what from their faith traditions spurred them into action and challenged participants to continue to engage with those different from themselves.