August 14, 2006

CONLAMIC Increases the Pressure on Riverside: Leaders of Faith to Rally

Riverside, NJ –On Sunday, August 20th at 2pm, over 180 Latino religious leaders and their congregation members from a tri-state area will unite in a prayer vigil on the City Hall steps of 1 Scott Street in Riverside Township, New Jersey. In this unprecedented event, Evangelical and Catholic leaders will unite from the states of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for the first time in the history of this small township. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) has united forces with leaders of faith for the purpose of providing a consistence presence and of increasing pressure on Riverside city officials. “We have the moral right and responsibility to respond to the injustices that are occurring as a result of this anti-immigrant ordinance,” said Reverend Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC.

Riverside Township city officials know that the people are coming and they are nervous to say the least.

During the prayer vigil the Rev. Rivera and other leaders will bring a strong message to the political leaders of Riverside Township in hopes that they will re-consider this ordinance and its negative impact on the local economy and its residents. Leaders of faith predicted that the anti-immigrant ordinance would quickly divide the community, hurt local business and property owners and increase discrimination. Rev. Rivera, President of CONLAMIC, the nation’s largest Latino Christian advocacy organization, and other leaders have made visits to local residents and held continuous meetings in Burlington County to learn more about the impact made by the passing of this ordinance. “When local immigrants see us arrive, they approach us with fear and sadness because their family members have left Riverside out of fear that ‘la migra’ (border patrol) will detain them. Residents have informed us of their loss of jobs, loss of clients in their small businesses, and of many who have left their apartments due to the hostility against them,” said Rev. Rivera.

“The community throughout this tri-state area has reached out to us in support of our efforts to advocate for immigrants, small business and property owners in Riverside,” said Rev. Rivera. The New Jersey Conference of Catholic Bishops has pledged their support. Father Angelo, the Brazilian Priest from Riverside will attend the prayer vigil as will members of Philadelphia and South New Jersey Catholic parishes. Other supporters include the Riverside Coalition of Landlords and Business Owners, Burlington County Clergy Association, Riverside Coalition of Landlords and Business Owners, and Servicio’s Latino’s of Burlington County.

In recent conversation with the Riverside Chief of Police, the Rev. Miguel Rivera said, “The Chief of Police was very cordial in our conversation, giving us a permit that will close Scott Street for the purpose of the prayer vigil. The Chief also expressed concern because he has heard of the strength and size of rallies organized by CONLAMIC,” said Rev. Rivera. “It’s likely that these officials never dreamed that the Latino community from a tri-state area would join against this absurd and provocative ordinance, called the Immigrant Relief Act.” The city has even offered all of the municipal parking spaces at the Municipal Building and local firehouse to accommodate the vehicles of the prayer vigil participants and helps them to avoid a ‘march’ through the streets of Riverside. “If City Officials don’t respond, they can be assured that voice will continue to gather strength and the pressure on them will increase to dramatic proportions,” said Rev. Rivera. "This is not a local effort; it's an effort that impacts many American towns that are facing the same problem as a result of the lack of a comprehensive solution to immigration reform by our nation's leaders in Congress."

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