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Immigrant Rights

Immigration Reform: Let’s Make It Happen

Latina mother holding childESTHER’s immigration task force has been calling for several years for immigration policy that is consistent with our faith values, keeps families together, provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrants already here, and expands legal avenues for workers to enter the U.S. Now that an immigration reform bill has been introduced in the Senate, it’s time to get behind the effort to pass it and then to implement it in a humane way. Humane immigration reform has many enemies, and this is no time for us to be complacent.

Click here to fill out a postcard to be sent to your member of Congress.

Read More (below) to learn how you can help.

Walk in Their Shoes--Latino Simulation Passes First Test

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FootprintsThe first trial run of ESTHER’s Latino Simulation, held on May 22, was a great success, with about 50 people participating. The goal of the simulation is to foster community awareness about the challenges Latinos face in our community. What was learned in this first trial run will help in fine-tuning the simulation before its public release later in the summer. If your group would like to schedule a simulation, contact Penny at penny.robinson@esther-foxvalley.org.

Walk in Our Shoes: Latino Simulation Coming this Fall

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footprintsThe Fox Valley’s 20,000 Latinos live among us, but we do not really know them. As our ancestors did, they have come to make a better life for themselves and their children. But their efforts are complicated by a restrictive and politicized immigration system. ESTHER’s up-coming Latino Simulation will give participants a chance to deepen their understanding of the problems that our Latino neighbors face: finding jobs and transportation, obtaining health care, keeping their documentation up-to-date or living without it, and trying to understand a strange language and culture.

 

Dream for All: What your faith says about immigration

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We have been hearing a lot about immigration on the news lately.  Come to this event and hear more about what your faith tradition says about immigration and how we are to respond to immigrants in our communities. Voices of Hope, sharing real life stories of immigrants in the Fox Valley will also present.

Date: Thursday, April 18th

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: First English Lutheran Church (326 North St, Appleton)

Click here to download the flyer.

Changes Coming for Immigrants

Hispanic faces on US mapPresident Obama has pledged to work for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the results of the last elections have convinced most Republicans that some reform is needed. Even so, the outcome is far from assured.

The administration has implemented some of the proposals of the Dream Act and has recently announced a policy change that will allow undocumented immigrants who are married to citizens to avoid having to return to their home countries to apply for visas as spouses of citizens.   

Locally, to provide more information in the Fox Valley about immigrants’ experiences, ESTHER has been tapped to finish developing and test a Latino Simulation (similar in concept to a poverty simulation). The potential value of such a resource grew out of investigations by ThedaCare's Community Health Action Team (CHAT), which held an Immigration Plunge during the fall of 2011. CHAT then developed the concept of the simulation and sponsored its initial development. Nan Gutierrez has been named project leader and will be working with ESTHER’s Immigration Task Force to complete the project in the next few months.

Watch our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/esther.foxvalleyand this website for updates on immigration reform.

Immigration event helps students

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Clients at deferred action eventESTHER sponsored sessions on “Deferred Action Assistance” to help young immigrants with applications as part of an executive order by the federal administration.

The free one-on-one help was available at St. Therese Parish in Appleton on Saturday, Sept. 15, and at St. Mary Parish, Omro, on Sunday, Sept. 16.

Information packets [English] [Español] are available on the ESTHER web site and more than 300 copies of forms and instructions were made available.

ESTHER Helps 100 More Immigrants to Learn Their Rights

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Nearly 100 people attended an ESTHER-sponsored “Know Your Rights" training session on July 1 at St. Mary’s Church in Omro. Certified immigration lawyers were on hand to educate the immigrant population about their basic human rights. Concerns about transportation and law enforcement were raised by the participants.

It also was a time of celebration in the wake of President Obama’s recent executive order to allow temporary residency to people who came here before age 16. They can apply for work permits and not worry about deportation.

This event brings the total number of people that ESTHER has trained this year in their basic rights to over 250.

Voices of Hope Forces Us to Take a Stand

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Sometimes a work of art presents a moral question so starkly that we cannot avoid confronting it, and  ESTHER’s “Voices of Hope: Life Stories of Latinos” is such a work. It throws the moral and legal issues associated with immigration into high relief, and it forces us to take a stand. This reader’s theater presentation directed by Kris Clouthier is based on interviews from Peter Geniesse’s book Illegal: NAFTA Refugees Forced to Flee.

“Voices of Hope” tells the stories of several Latino immigrants. Among them are two young women who are high school seniors in Appleton, Wisconsin. Both of the women are good students. Both are leaders in their graduating classes. Both hope to attend the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, but one will be able pay in-state tuition and receive scholarship help, while the other must pay out-of-state tuition and is ineligible for scholarships.  One is able to get a driver’s license that enables her to drive to Oshkosh. The other is not.  They are different because one of them was born here of an undocumented mother who was pregnant when she arrived, while the other was brought here as an infant.  Thus, one is a legal citizen, while the other is an illegal alien because her parents came here after she was born.  Is this just?

“Voices of Hope” skewers us on the point of this question.  From one point of view, we can say that this is a country of laws and the law must take precedence.  The student who is here illegally cannot claim the rights of a legal resident of Wisconsin.  If this causes her pain, that is unfortunate, but her parents should have thought of that before they brought her here.

On the other hand, we also believe that the law should be just.  The girl who is here illegally has the same human rights as anyone else, and we should not punish her for a crime she did not commit merely because her status – which she did not choose – is illegal.  We can go further. We can say that the girl’s parents came here to work in response to our economy’s clear demand for workers.  Through the parents’ work, the economy grew, and we all benefited. How can we accept such benefits from a system that causes this girl’s suffering?  Do we not have a responsibility to change the system to alleviate the suffering?

“Voices of Hope” brings these questions alive for us and forces us to take a stand.

The final performance of "Voices of Hope" will take place on Tuesday April 24, 2012 at 7 PM at the Appleton Public Library.

Building Bridges MURAL PROJECT!

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Building Bridges:

A Mural Project

 

Click Here for Flyer

If you could paint just one message to your community, what would it say?

We are inviting high school and college students to participate in a mural project that will work to build bridges between immigrant and non-immigrant youth. There will be two relationship building gatherings for students to get to know each other (lunch included). Students will meet to design the mural in September and will paint the mural design in September through October. Students can paint as their schedule allows. This will be a large traveling mural, all painting will be done indoors.

LOCATION: Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 740 East College Avenue, Appleton. Bridging Gatherings and painting will be done at this location. (See Mural Timeline)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Stephanie Gyldenvand, (920) 216-0891, esther.foxvalley@gmail.com. There is no cost to participate. Adult advisors will be present for all meetings and painting sessions.

Mural Timeline:

August 6th – 10:00-1:00, Bridging Gathering I

August 20th – 10:00-1:00, Bridging Gathering II

September & October – Plan design, and paint mural

November – Unveiling event and display of mural at community events

This mural project is sponsored by LUNA, a youth group that works to strengthen leadership skills, build positive relationships, and addresses issues that impact Latino youth. LUNA is a project of ESTHER, an interfaith nonprofit that works to impact issues of poverty and injustice in the greater Fox Valley area.

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