September 29, 2007

CONLAMIC 8th Annual Legislative Update

Washington, DC – This week the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) held their 8th annual Legislative Conference this week, which proved to be its most successful and impactful gathering in its history.

“This meeting was the most effective of all the previous ones that we have held,” declared Rev. Manuel Jordan, Secretary of CONLAMIC and President of United for Churches Empowerment in Camden, New Jersey, an affiliated with CONLAMIC.

The 8th annual CONLAMIC Legislative Conference included the participation of Congressmen Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who are currently the only champions of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress through legislation called the STRIVE Act. They have remained true to their word as they fight both political parties to achieve a workable solution that is effective and protects the human dignity of immigrants in this nation.

"Before winning the past elections, the Democratic Party promised to bring change to Washington. Hispanic voters showed their support at the polls expecting us to bring a solution to what has affected millions of undocumented people as a result of our broken and obsolete immigration system,” said Congressman Gutierrez.

"My Republican colleagues know that the right thing they must do is to recognize the family values. My experience growing up on a farm in Arizona with Hispanic migrant workers who came to cultivate the land of my parents, who would return to their families and native country at the end of the season confirms to me that this is the right course of action to pursue, one that will provide these workers the opportunity for legalization and to establish themselves in this country. It should be a source of pride for us that they would want to be an integral part of our great nation,” declared Congressman Flake.

CONLAMIC leaders' visit to Washington, DC began with a historic conference sponsored by the White House Faith & Community Initiatives and the U. S. Department of Education who recognized our valuable support of No Child Left Behind.

“The federal government needs our leadership to ensure that the implementation and distribution of Faith Initiative resources are utilized by those who demonstrate integrity,” said Rev. Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC as he spoke to more than 1,200 Hispanic, and African American faith leaders who attended the conference at the Hilton Washington.

One of the most important outcomes of this event was the presence of members of 4 new CONLAMIC state chapters, adding to the growth of the Latino Evangelical Movement in the United States. Leaders representing Hispanic pastors associations in Kansas City, KS, Laredo, TX, Sacramento, CA and Cleveland, OH encouraged us to continue the effort to build CONLAMIC as a force for change across the nation.

The states of Oklahoma and Georgia were each represented by delegations of influential ministers that recently experienced the victorious Justice of God in local battles against laws that affect the Latino Christian church as members have suffer through the implementation of local laws that increase the number of arrests and deportations.

“Since CONLAMIC arrived in Oklahoma, there is great hope. Our congregations have faith that we will see victory through the courts against the anti-immigration law 1804 that has divided our community,” affirmed Dr. Victor Otra, Oklahoma State CONLAMIC Coordinator.

“Thousands of our church members recently rallied in Atlanta in objection to the 529 law in Georgia that criminalizes our undocumented brothers and sisters and severely impacts the economic situation of our families. CONLAMIC has taken steps to unite the Latino Evangelical Church, Christian radio stations and Hispanic ministers,” said Rev. Antonio Mansogo, President of the Georgia State Hispanic Pastors Association and Georgia CONLAMIC Coordinator.

“Now we have the daunting task of continuing to raise funds through our workforce committees, special events, and through church offerings from the members of our congregations to assist us in growing this movement,” said Rev. Mansogo.

In the upcoming weeks CONLAMIC will announce the creation of a new initiative to establish charter schools and private Christian Schools. One hundred CONLAMIC affiliated churches will start new schools . These schools will be K-8th grade that will serve thousands of children from our communities. The core curriculum will offer children a high quality education and core values and character building

As always, we request your prayers united in faith, believing that God has called us in this critical hour for this nation, to lift His name and strengthen the unity of the body of Christ and to heal our communities.

September 16, 2007

Latino Church Groups Lead Rally

Protesters criticize Georgia law, pray for federal solution

By S.A. REIDThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 09/17/07

Hundreds of Christian Latinos took to the streets of downtown Atlanta on Sunday in prayer and protest against a new Georgia law they say criminalizes undocumented immigrants.
Amid chants and song, they also demanded comprehensive federal immigration reform during their rally and march from the U.S. Court of Appeals to the state Capitol.

Holding Bibles, demonstrators chant 'viva Jesus, viva Jesus' at the state Capitol on Sunday. 'We need true immigration reform,' a spokesman said.

The protesters — many legal residents and most toting Bibles and young children — came from across Georgia to send what they hope will be a powerful, spirit-filled message that a change must come at the federal level and not through states and local governments, whose politicians they say are using the immigration issue for political gain.

By doing so, states and municipalities usurp the federal government's constitutional authority to shape the nation's immigration policy, critics said.

The Washington-based National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Church Leaders and the Association of Latino Pastors of Georgia, its local affiliate, led the prayer rally.
The evangelical advocacy organization represents more than 20,000 churches in 33 states, according to the Rev. Miguel Rivera, coalition president and founder.

Similar protests have been held across the country amid the national debate on comprehensive immigration reform.

"We're sending a message that we need true immigration reform that addresses the plight of 12 million and their children," said lawyer William Sanchez, a coalition lawyer. "What's happened in Georgia is just a reflection of the lack of action by the federal government."

The groups plan to submit paperwork during next few months challenging the constitutionality of restrictive, state-imposed laws that have surfaced in places such as Missouri, Oklahoma, Virginia and Georgia.

Georgia's SB 529 raises the bar on identification requirements in employment, public benefits and pay to contractors. It also prohibits in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and requires jailers to check the legal status of those charged with DUI or a felony and notify federal authorities of suspected illegal immigrants.

Critics say Georgia's law and others like it make Latinos targets of racial profiling and other acts of discrimination.

"We're hoping to stop 529. The law criminalizes every undocumented immigrant," said Antonio Mansogo, association president affiliated with Doraville's Central Pentecostal Ministry. "What you can see is that these people are not criminals. Everybody is holding a Bible, reflecting that they have the same faith and values as the American people."

Living in the United States without proper documentation, Sanchez said, violates civil laws, but not criminal ones.

Rivera, coalition president and founder, described Georgia's new law frivolous and insulting to Latinos who, he said, pay taxes like everyone else.

Latino pastors and their members, he added, are fed up. Added Rivera: "We cannot tolerate these types of laws."

Nearly half the estimated 700,000 Hispanics in Georgia are undocumented, experts say.

September 12, 2007

Atlanta Prayer Vigil to Bring Together Thousands of Georgia Hispanics

Atlanta, GA- The Washington, DC-based, National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) representing more than 16,000 evangelical Hispanic churches throughout the United States has once again coordinated what is promises to be an enormous gathering of members from the Latino Christian community on Sunday, September 16 at 2:00 p.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Rev. Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC will give the opening prayer in an event that expects thousands of evangelical and catholic members from throughout the state of Georgia. Christians from diverse denominations will gather in prayer as they raise their voice against Georgia Security/Immigration Compliance Act 529.

“SB 529 joins the list of the most frivolous policies that have passed in the United States. This is part of a strategy from certain extremists that have taken political advantage of developing sensationalistic policy that results in persecution of immigrants,” said Rev. Miguel Rivera.

The Georgia Association of Hispanic Evangelical Churches has reported that 35% of its Pentecostal members have left their churches and the state of Georgia.

“The intentions of Georgia’s SB 529 much like Oklahoma’s Taxpayer Protection Act 1804 are identical. They provoke panic in Hispanic communities and create fear of arrest and family separation-fear that is greatest among parents with under aged children. The a fear of losing their homes and being deported have caused thousands of undocumented immigrants to move to cities that are more tolerant or they have returned to their home countries,” said William Sanchez, President of CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund, who will present legal action in Federal Court in the following weeks.

“The fact that Congress has failed to bring a workable solution to the immigration situation is unacceptable. They have the power and authority to pass a federal law that will guarantee the right to life to a comatose woman but cannot come to an agreement on a comprehensive immigration policy that will keep families together and protects the dignity of millions on undocumented immigrants who live and work in the U.S. Most of these immigrants are conservative Hispanics who work daily to strengthen the American economy. This is a moral issue that has motivated the Latino Evangelical Church to step forward in a united force to speak to the issue and advocate for their members before legislators and to put an end to the crisis that is dividing communities,” said Rev. Rivera.

“The Latino Evangelical congregations have decided to close their church services on Sunday to participate in this prayer vigil and we are confident that the presence of thousands of good Christians, excellent citizens of Georgia, will obligate the Governor and our policy makers to reconsider this incredible error in judgment,” declared Dr. Antonio Mansogo, Georgia Coordinator for CONLAMIC.

CONLAMIC saw a victory in the Township of Riverside New Jersey recently after the local mayor and city council voted to eliminate an anti-immigrant ordinance that was brought forth a year ago. CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund battled the constitutionality of the law that resulted in a recent victory. The organization has turned its attention to similar legislation that has been proposed in the states of Oklahoma and Georgia.

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Rev. Rivera to Address Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Washington, DC - Tuesday, October 2, 2007, 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m., at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. Rev. Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC will participate as a panelist at the Public Policy Conference’s Closing Plenary of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). The event is part of a series of special programs and activities held annually to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month.

As a panelist, Rev. Rivera will participate in a discussion titled, “Achieving Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Where Do We Go From Here?” that will feature prominent Hispanic Members of Congress who will also highlight this year’s theme, “Hispanic America: A Legacy of Honor.” This discussion promises to be enlightening and informative for all conference participants.

For the last 25 years, the CHCI Public Policy Conference has served as one of the most vital forums for Hispanics across the United States to come together, discuss, and learn about bestpractices to help formulate public policy. The Conference seeks to increase awareness and activism in all areas of policy-making and provides a networking opportunity for Hispanics to express their concerns on issues affecting their lives and communities.