October 31, 2007

Oklahoma Judge Dismisses CONLAMIC Request for Injunction Against HB-1804

Tulsa, Oklahoma – Today, Federal District Court Judge Payne dismissed the request for an injunction made by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund) to stop the implementation of HB -1804, the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, the most damaging anti-immigrant legislation in the United States.

“We are saddened that Judge Payne does not sense the urgency we feel to stop the implementation of HB-1804. Nevertheless, we respect Judge Payne’s decision,” said Reverend Miguel Rivera, President of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC).

“Judge Payne has not dismissed the lawsuit. It’s active and will be addressed in court next Thursday as we respond to the courts request for more evidence of HB-1804’s unconstitutionality,” said William Sanchez, President of CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund.

“Our hope is to have a full trial on the merits of our case, which will flesh out the issue of the unconstitutionality of HB-1804,” said Mr. Sanchez.

“This ruling is certain to have serious and negative implications for Oklahoma’s immigrant community – as we have already seen by increase of hostility, division in communities, and racial profiling by local law enforcement,” added Rev. Rivera.

HB-1804 is the most severe and frivolous anti-immigrant state law to be put into place in the nation. Oklahoma is certain to see the departure of immigrants from its state as people move to more tolerant communities.

“We predict that in the longer term, Oklahoma’s economy and growth will suffer as a result of this law. There are no facts to back up Rep. Terrill’s claims that undocumented immigrants are a burden on the state, instead, there is much to show that immigrants both legal and undocumented contribute a great deal in tax and revenue,” said Rev. Rivera.

HB-1804 was brought forward by State Representative Randy Terrill last year along with his claims that ‘economic hardship and lawlessness by undocumented people’ but was unable to provide data to back up his claims.

This battle is without merit because of the fact that undocumented Immigrants in Oklahoma use less than 1% of public services – 99.31% of public services are used by legal residents only (Oklahoma Department of Labor 2006).

It’s common knowledge that immigrants move to communities to obtain jobs not taxpayer subsidy. Terrill has been misinforming Oklahoma’s citizens.

As HB-1804 goes into affect tonight at midnight, our state leaders will be tracking racial profiling reports and will continue to work with plaintiffs who are unjustly harmed by the implementation of HB-1804.

October 24, 2007

CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund Amends its Legal Claim Against Oklahoma's HB-1804

Hispanic Ministers won't give ground on injustices affecting Oklahoma's Immigrant Families

Washington, DC- Today, attorneys for the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders Legal Defense Fund are expected to file an amended grievance against the Governor and the State Attorney General of Oklahoma, regarding legislation HB-1804. A lawsuit filed last week was dismissed by Federal District Court Judge Payne due to lack of standing on grounds that there is a need to further prove cognizable injury suffered as a result of the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act. The CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund intends to prove otherwise.

"Today, we reaffirm our commitment to our members in Oklahoma who are experiencing the effects of the discriminatory anti-immigrant sentiment that has resulted from this state law. The signing of HB 1804 has incited rhetoric in the state that looks much like open season against Latinos,” said Rev. Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC.

“Members of Oklahoma’s Latino churches have been forced to leave their apartments and families have been rendered homeless because of their undocumented status. Small and mid sized business owners who are also members of our churches are losing revenue,” said Rev. Rivera.

“HB 1804 has created an atmosphere of fear, tension, and most serious of all, a forced exile of thousands of Latinos from the State of Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s citizens are subject to polarization and animosity as this anti-immigrant sentiment continues to rise in every neighborhood. HB 1804 even prior to being implemented has energized and motivated government employees and police officers around the state to take action and denounce the presence of undocumented immigrants,” says Rev. Miguel Rivera.

"Its important to note that after we reviewed the opinion of Judge Payne, we concluded that this decision is a temporary order of dismissal that will provide us with time to amend the complaint and that it is not a rejection of our claim regarding the lack constitutional standing of HB-1804,” stated William Sanchez, lead Attorney for the CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund.

"We will not retreat from our moral duty to bring the truth to the American people and seek a remedy through the courts on this frivolous and un-American law that has discriminatory undertones carelessly brought forward by policymakers who tragically seek to utilize this sensitive issue for political gain,” said also the Rev. Rivera.

October 15, 2007

CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund Files Suit Against Oklahoma Law

Tulsa, OK - Today, Rev. Miguel Rivera and his state legal team held a press conference before the Federal Court building in Tulsa to announce the formal filing of the lawsuit against House Bill 1804. The lawsuit names Governor Brad Henry and Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson as defendants. The legal battle begins as a result of failure by local officials to bring a workable solution that will stop this division among the community of Tulsa.

"Our experience in other states is often that community talks result in action that will help us all to avoid legal battles. But when that fails, as it has in Tulsa, CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund is called in to fight for justice through the court system," said Rev. Rivera, President of CONLAMIC.

"The law is on our side. We will resolve this eventually. In the meantime, immigrant members of the community should remain in their homes and not give up," said William Sanchez, President of CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund.

Already, an estimated 25,000 people have left in fear of HB 1804's effects. CONLAMIC has received many reports of racial profiling by Tulsa law enforcement, which has caused fear in the community.

The law, which takes effect November 1st, requires law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of people.

Rohit Sharma, local counsel for CONLAMIC said they plan to file for an injunction Tuesday, preventing HB 1804 from taking effect.

"Justice will prevail as it has in our other cases. We will continue the effort to seek justice for innocent people. Immigrants in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma give a great deal to this state through their hard work and economic contributions. I know God has blessed most Oklahomans with the heart to appreciate this. Unfortunately we must at times seek justice, not with the heart but through the legal system," said Rev. Rivera.

October 13, 2007

CONLAMIC Reponds to Call From Clergy In Irving Texas

Hispanic Ministers Take Action Against Anti-Immigrant Activity

Irving, Texas - Hispanic evangelical ministers from Irving, Texas made a formal petition to the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders for help in organizing a concerted and aggressive effort against the anti-immigrant sentiment, mass deportations, and other activity that is hurting members of their congregations. In swift response, Rev. Miguel Rivera was on his cell phone with his legal team as he boarded a plane to Dallas yesterday.

"Our leaders tell me that many of our people are being hurt over the activity of local public officials in Irving. The community is divided and racial discrimination is growing as a result of this activity," said Rev. Rivera, President of CONLAMIC.

In a conference call with his legal team in Texas, William Sanchez, President of the CONLAMIC Legal Defense Fund analysed the Irving situation and his team discussed the possibility of launching a fight through the courts.

"We are carefully reviewing the Irving situation. If the constitution has been violated - we will seek justice through the court system," stated William Sanchez.

Today, Hispanic ministers will have a series of meetings with CONLAMIC leaders. The Spanish Christian radio waves have been urging members of churches to unite their voice and gather for a prayer vigil today at City Hall to begin what promises to be a strong effort on behalf of the Latino evangelical church.

This year, CONLAMIC has led similar efforts to fight anti-immigrant initiatives in New Jersey, Oklahoma, Virginia and Georgia, bringing national attention to the issue along the way. Successful efforts to curve anti-immigrant activity has given CONLAMIC the reputation of being a 'watchdog' against the violation of civil rights. This is significant, as the Hispanic evangelical church has been historically known for being silent, even in cases of injustice.

"With God's help, we will ensure that civil rights are not violated in Irving, Texas and as we evaluate the situation on behalf of local CONLAMIC members, we will take the appropriate action to ensure justice prevails," said Rev. Miguel Rivera.

October 09, 2007

CONLAMIC Prepares to File Legal Action Against the State of Oklahoma

Purpose is to Defeat the Law HB-1804

Washington DC--The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders/ CONLAMIC, the largest Latino evangelical pastors advocacy coalition in the Country, representing over 16,000 thousand Latino Christian churches in 33 States, will file a lawsuit in Federal Court against the State of Oklahoma regarding legislation known as HB-1804, the most anti-immigrant measure in the United States.

"We are filing such action to stop the ethnic cleansing tactics that have being occurring mostly in the Tulsa County area and are affecting the Latino community. These are happening, coincidentally, as the Tulsa County residents are in the brink of a referendum on October 9 to approve a $282 million Arkansas River development. This development promise to provide millions of dollars in the form of rebates from which many low-income Latinos would directly benefit from if passed" says the Rev. Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC.

"The racial profiling abuses and roadblock actions by the Tulsa County Sheriff Dept in conjunction with the Tulsa Police Dept, are undeniable evidence that there are special interest groups that are putting substantial pressure on the Tulsa County Latinos to intimidate them and to prompt them to abandon their homes and businesses in the area", continues the Rev. Rivera.

Latino evangelical churches are losing membership, Latino businesses are being negatively affected; many are selling their real estate properties below the market value just to avoid having a member of their extended family, that is undocumented, from being arrested and deported.

CONLAMIC is urging the Federal Dept of Justice to open an investigation regarding the racial profiling issues and the ethnic cleansing tactics in the County of Tulsa and the possible correlation it bears to the Arkansas River Development project.

October 03, 2007

Evangélicos demandarán al estado de Georgia

Por Mario Guevara
Atlanta Latino Newspaper

09/20/2007

La Iglesia Evangélica hispana de Georgia, con el soporte de la Coalición Nacional Latina de Ministros Cristianos (CONLAMIC), con sede en Washington D.C., anunció esta semana que entablará una demanda contra el Estado, por “atropellar la dignidad de sus fieles”.

El reverendo Miguel Rivera, presidente de CONLAMIC, asociación compuesta por más de 15 mil iglesias cristianas y con representación en 33 estados de EE. UU., informó que comenzarán este mes un proceso para demandar ante el máximo circuito judicial, la ley estatal 529, porque a su criterio es inconstitucional ya que promueve que los departamentos de policía y alguaciles hagan arrestos basados en el perfil racial.

“El mensaje que queremos darle a los legisladores de Georgia es que los pastores ya no estamos dispuestos a permitir que con sus leyes frívolas e innecesarias sigan atropellando la dignidad de nuestros miembros. La ley 529 por ejemplo, fue formulada por intereses políticos, únicamente para ganar puntos, y esa deshonestidad debe ser desenmascarada públicamente”, expresó Rivera.

El religioso reveló que están creando una base de datos que reflejará los casos que pastores y líderes de sus congregaciones afiliadas les hayan reportado, sobre incidentes que involucren a sus miembros.

“Leyes como la 529 reviven la retórica racista, manipulan la conciencia de los estadounidenses en Georgia, para que vean a nuestros hermanos como invasores, que han venido para robarles el empleo, cuando eso es una falacia, esa mano de obra ha llegado porque hay trabajos que sencillamente ellos (los estadounidenses) no quieren hacer.

Creemos que la corte fallará a favor porque que un policía pare a alguien solo porque sospecha que es indocumentado, es una acción ilegal e inconstitucional”, añadió.

CONLAMIC, es la única entidad religiosa que tiene presencia en el ámbito político federal. Promueve los asuntos de justicia social, así como las opciones educativas.

MASIVA PROTESTA

El domingo pasado, unos 172 templos locales, decidieron cancelar sus servicios para participar en la protesta. Unos 8 mil creyentes -según los organizadores-, con sus Biblias en mano y entonando cánticos de alabanza a Dios, se plantaron por varias horas en las gradas del Capitolio Estatal, para orar y pedir a los políticos locales que “cesen sus ataques racistas” contra la gente honrada que lo único que desea es trabajar para darles un mejor mañana a sus hijos.

El pastor Antonio Mansogo, del Ministerio Pentecostal Central de Doraville, calificó la actividad como histórica, porque es la primera vez que la Iglesia Evangélica toma el liderazgo de confrontar los “abusos” que se están llevando a cabo en Georgia y que afectan a sus congregaciones.

“No esperábamos tantos participantes, llegó gente de Athens y Gainesville, Union City y otras ciudades. La convocatoria que hicimos fue de oración y para rechazar las leyes racistas que se están aplicando, y que tienen a nuestra gente bajo un clima de depresión e insomnio”, indicó el pastor.

Según Mansogo, con la ley 529 la policía está tomando el papel de agencia federal y eso pone en aprietos a miles de inmigrantes indocumentados, por lo que no pueden quedarse de brazos cruzados.

“El silencio es una traición, la iglesia no debe seguir permitiendo que se atropelle a sus feligreses solo por no tener documentos de este país. No es justo además que el dinero de los impuestos se desperdicie ejecutando a una ley racista y discriminatoria”, concluyó Mansogo.