March 23, 2009

CONLAMIC Leaders Host Familias Unidas for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Orlando

Contact: Rev. Dr. Luis E. Lopez
(407) 902-8021

ORLANDO, FL - The National Coalition Of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC), the largest Latino Christian advocacy organization in the nation, representing more than 20,000 thousand churches in 34 States will co-host the "Families United" (Familias Unidas) event with Congressman Luis Gutierrez, in Orlando FL, on March 28 (Saturday) at 10:00am.

The venue for this event is the Pabellon De La Victoria Church (Iglesia Pabellon de la Victoria) 12355 South John Young Parkway, Orlando.

"Congressman Gutierrez has taken the lead on this issue since 2001 with an understanding that a comprehensive legislative approach to immigration reform is the only solution to such a sensitive issue that polarizes our local communities and provides a social environment for discrimination against immigrants" says the Reverend Miguel Rivera, Chairman of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders.

"In central Florida and throughout the state our churches are being affected because members of our congregations prefer to stay home rather than risk the possibility of being arrested and separated from their families while driving without a driver's permit as a result of the 287-G immigration enforcement action by local Sheriff's Departments," says Rev. Dr. Luis Lopez, CONLAMIC Regional Vice-President and a Volunteer Chaplain with the Orange County Sheriff Department.

"To honor Congressman Gutierrez' visit to central Florida, the Hispanic Evangelical Pastor's Association is co-hosting the event and together we will reassure church members that undocumented immigrants have rights under the Constitution of the United States; and as faith leaders, we will stand by Biblical principles that call us to be benevolent with the foreigners and show mercy. We respect the laws of our Country and demand that Members of Congress fix the broken immigration system that tears families apart and violates human rights,' said Rev. Santiago Panzardi, President of the Hispanic Evangelical Pastors Association of Central Florida.

"We are coming to Orlando with the understanding that pastors and members of our churches are truly concerned due to rising anti-immigration sentiment in the Central Florida despite the benefit brought to Florida's business community by hard working labor of thousands of undocumented immigrants. These workers help the local economy as well as our nation," concluded Rev. Miguel Rivera.

March 12, 2009

Letter to President Obama On Comprehesive Immigration Reform and the 287-G Program

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for your hard work and strong leadership these first days of your administration. On behalf of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC), I write this letter urging you to initiate legislative action on the 287-G program that was established by law since 1986.

As you know, Congressman Gutierrez has led the Familias Unidas (Families United) tour in collaboration with CONALMIC and other faith based organizations. These events have helped to create a critical momentum on the need for a moral, fair, immediate and comprehensive legislative approach to immigration reform and importantly, have given a voice to the voiceless in America who have needed to be heard.

Our leaders collectively appreciate the commitment and support of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus, which works to ensure faith advocates that we are on the right track with this issue and mustn’t give up.

I am pleased to learn that your administration is reviewing the current policies and practices of immigration enforcement. We are certain that enforcement legislation and regulations were never intended to be used by local law enforcement as a tool to allow for racial profiling, punishing law abiding residents and those who are hard working, law-abiding, and pose no threat to our nation’s safety.

Today, thousands of signatures delivered to the Department of Justice provide the necessary justification to hasten an investigation on the unconstitutional practices of Sheriff Joe Arpio from Maricopa County, Arizona.

We urge you to begin work on a legislative approach that will restate the law and bring a better understanding of the 287-G program, its procedures and implementation.

We have provided testimonies gathered by our Pastors in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Texas where hundreds of law enforcement agents have been empowered to act as immigration law enforcers. This testimony is offered as evidence of the violations of civil and human rights suffered by many immigrants.

CONLAMIC Pastors are less hopeful that we will achieve a bipartisan legislative approach that will open the doors of legalization to millions of undocumented hard working immigrants. We can only try our best to advocate for our community and educate the members of Congress in their local districts of a need for a compassionate solution. We understand that our nation’s laws must be enforced; however, we urge a change in the method of that enforcement.

You may be assured that our pastors will continue advocacy efforts in local districts and in Washington DC.

I assure you that you are in our prayers as you consider this important matter and always.